Monday, May 10, 2010

Vanessa's Backyard

Exactly a year ago on our 3rd mangroves planting at Kuala Melaka, Langkawi; I noticed a small dense area of mangroves over 1km away. I was curious about it yet didn't bother to get there to check it out.

This picture was taken from where we were at Kuala Melaka.

After zooming in to the maximum

Recently, Vanessa, a Mat Salleh (expatriate) living in Langkawi for 3 years and also a member of Malaysian Nature Society (Langkawi chapter) read my blog and decided to share her story of that area which happens to be her backyard too.

Vanessa captured some moments through her video of the mangroves planting.

According to Vanessa, that was the third year of planting after the tsunami. After viewing that video, I was stunned by the hard work those local boys did and they went through such condition as compared to ours... child's play...

I decided to drop by Vanessa's backyard to check out the planting site at Kuala Teriang.
ooooohh.... What I saw like trigs from afar were like tee pees 
Each saplings were tied to each of the legs of the trig. Looks like those times when people were to be sacrificed and each of them were tied onto the poles left to die. The only question  I have is do the planters return to untie the ropes otherwise the saplings will be constricted of their growth.

Next to the site with the tee pees, there is another site with some young Rhizophoras sp. and there was a barricade built. From my observation, that looked like some sort of barricade or wave breaker to me. We are unsure of when it was built or if the purpose of it there was to protect the mangroves seedlings.

View of the wave breaker or barricade at close up

Next to the tee pees area is a barren area where now it has been planted with new seedlings. According to Vanessa, another group came and planted more seedlings between 6th and 7th May 2010. 
This group used another technique as compared to the previous group that used the tee pees technique.
Each seedling is stuck into the mud with a thin bamboo stick next to it. I have no idea what is the bamboo stick is for. It is not even tied to the seedling. The picture here is showing the seedling of Rhizophora Apiculata species

At a glance, the number of seedlings were estimated to be thousands. The seedlings with bamboo sticks were planted far out towards the sea. My only concern is when the peak season of the Western wind arrives, the swells will be very strong bringing in large volume of mud and debris knocking the seedlings away. Oh well... we shall see... 

Another patch of mangroves at the end of the planting of the new seedlings

Vanessa took me to the other side at the end of new seedlings where there is another patch of mangroves. As we walked towards there, I was distracted by a colony of fiddler crabs. I was awed by the huge number of these fiddler crabs scattering very quickly crossing our path in a large group.

These fiddler crabs indeed do look like soldiers in the battle field
Fiddler crabs "sword fighting"

This patch of mangroves here looked very healthy.  These trees are growing very well. Don't know why. Vanessa said that another group planted these. 

Here is Vanessa looking at the Rhizophora genus  

In this patch, I spotted a species of mangroves that I am not familiar with. 

The height of this tree is about an average Avicennia genus

Pinkish colour at the end of each stem 

The pneumatophores of this unknown tree. I suspect it could be Avicennia genus but which species? Can any mangroves expert help id this? I will have to wait for it to fruit then.

Another interesting fact about this Kuala Teriang mudflat. According to Vanessa, the locals there told her that once upon a time this mudflat area was a white sandy beach. I met another local while having a drink at Warung Pais later that evening and he told me the same. This mudflat was  just like Pantai Cenang decades ago. Kids used to play and swim in what it is a mudflat now. 

This is how Pantai Cenang, Langkawi looks like. Image taken from

So, what happened then? What made a beautiful sandy beach become a massive muddy beach? Some locals believe that the loss of the sandy beach was a result of the bridge cum wave breaker built on the south west coast of Langkawi (opposite the airport). 

That bridge cum wave breaker, which is now a white elephant, may have created a change in the movement of current that eventually brought in tonnes of mud into Kuala Melaka and Kuala Teriang. Or could it be the tsunami...??

In summary, seems like Vanessa's backyard is an experimental site. Different groups with different techniques of planting. The best part of it is that these groups have funding to do such extensive planting and the locals were paid to do the job. And looks like a fun site for me to "play". 

Vanessa, I shall return. And next time, I will accept your offer for a cup of coffee. Many thanks for showing me around yesterday even though you had a twisted foot. Hope it is getting better. 



  1. weeee... 1 question. what lens are you using for the zoom? hehe

    This post is very spirit lifting! :-) we have hope

  2. Wow those really are great photos. Thank you for teaching me about Mangroves, because I had no idea.
    One of those recent mangrove guys gave me a HUGE crab that he had found tangles up in that netting. I thanked him...but later went to set it free. Unfortunately I am not so smart and got the you-know-what pinched out of me! Very painful.
    I look forward to our next chat and coffee for sure.:)

  3. Hi Raoul;
    My small compact and humble Canon PS2 camera did the wonderful job. That pic was digital zoomed and that is why it is grainy.

    I don't own a DSLR - yet. Too expensive bah.

    Hi Vanessa;
    HUGE crab!! Aiiikkkss... that crab was lucky that you are not a chinese or japanese.


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