Sunday, June 27, 2010

Waves + Surfs = Southwest Monsoon

7th June 2010  - our 8th planting on Kuala Melaka site. We selected this date in conjunction with  the World Environment Day which was on 5th June 2010. On this day, I got the opportunity to witness the large surfs coming into the shore. I had only heard about such surfs from the locals and yet to see the real thing because on those days that I came, the surfs were not as big as on this day.
Picture contributed by Mandy

This morning I was checking the tide level for our 9th planting via  our Malaysian Meteorological Department official portal when I stumbled upon their list of earthquakes.  A little bit shocking after looking at the statistics.

From the website of our  Malaysian Meteorological Department, just for the month of June 2010 itself, there were seven earthquakes occurred between 850-1066km Northwest of Langkawi  in the areas of Nicobar Islands and Andaman Islands regions. Only one earthquake  occurred in the Northern Sumatera, 497km Southwest of Langkawi.

After running through the list of earthquakes from January-June 2010, the month of June 2010 has the highest frequency of occurrences and ...pssst.... the distance is getting closer. From the distance of about 2000km to about 1000km or less away from Langkawi.

Staring at the surfs, I had mixed feelings of admiration and fear. Huge mighty surfs are indeed a beautiful sight and yet scary. I couldn't imagine how the surfs and swells look like when the tsunami hit this area on the Boxing day of 2004. I recall being a volunteer helping to clean up the mess in Kuala Teriang school area. And then my mind started to wonder. What if another tsunami comes, will this mudflat have sufficient mangroves to create a strong protection belt? Will these mangroves have the chance to reach its maturity stage before the next tsunami comes?
Bamboo sticks bent by the hitting force of the surfs and debris 
I have to tell myself to stop wondering. That will not help. Let's get back to work. And also on this day, I had a new planter with me...

Mandy in her own world

Meet Mandy, the blog owner of  Not Just Odonata. If you want to know about odonata (dragonflies and damselflies) in Langkawi, go check out her blog.

On this site, I was looking at the increasing amount of trash trapped by those bamboo sticks. 

Drifted coconuts landed on the mudflat were everywhere. They looked like bowling balls about to hit the targets. The targets were the mangroves seedlings. 

The tide was going out and level at the time of our arrival on this day was about 1.90meter. It was a nice windy sunny morning. A couple of White Bellied Sea Eagles were flying low and skiing with the wind.  Some waders flew in to feed. The frequent visitor,  Little Heron (Butorides striatus) and another not so frequent visitor, Pacific Reef Egret (Egretta sacra) dark morph were spotted at the edge of the mudflat.

And of course, the fiddler crabs (Uca spp.) were present. 

Mandy started to mumble about a fish and I was searching everywhere on the ground for that something she was pointing at. Shortly, my nose caught the stench. Thankfully, the stench was not as awful as the unidentified  suspected cetacean carcass found on Pebble Beach. The carcass Mandy was pointing turned out to be a porcupine fish. 

With just the two of us, we managed to plant about 60-70 seedlings.

Mandy collected some seedlings while she was kayaking in Kilim. Thanks, Mandy for your help.

All done for the day in less than 2 hours and it was time for a drink of Sirap Selasih ("tadpoles eggs-like" in icy cold red blood syrup) at Warung Pais while enjoying the surrounding wildlife.
Pacific Reef Egret aiming for a fish

A Blue Spotted Mudskipper (Boleophthalmus boddarti) leaping in joy or could be trying to attract a female 

And then it landed...

View of the estuary of Kuala Melaka from Warung Pais


  1. In the event of a tsunami, mangroves don't really help very much. If you remember the 2004 tsunami, all the mangroves on the Acheh coastline were wiped out.

    Mangroves are important for coastal protection (normal waves, currents) but they cannot withstand a big tsunami.

  2. Monyet King;
    Langkawi was lucky not to suffer the extensive damages like Phuket or even Penang. This was because there were other smaller islands that helped diverted the impact. Even though the impact of tsunami that Langkawi had was not as large however, it did create damages in Pantai Kok and Kuala Teriang.

    True enough that mangroves will not help in the event of a BIG tsunami (actually how to rate BIG or small tsunamis??), at least the mangroves can help to reduce the impact before it strikes the land.

    If such similar tsunami like in 2004 would to happen again, the mangroves could provide some buffer and hopefully create less damages.

    Pardon me for my naiveness but from the report I read here:

    one paragraph says:
    Five of the villages examined in the study include two on the coast and three behind mangroves. The villages on the coast were completely destroyed, whereas those behind the mangrove suffered no destruction even though other areas unshielded by vegetation at the same distance from the coast were damaged. The study concluded that the forested areas protected the villages from tsunami damage by reducing the energy of waves.

    I met a mangroves guide from Florida not so long ago and he told me how hurricanes destroyed some parts of their mangroves. So, not only tsunamis can destroy mangroves, hurricanes as well.

    At least, it is better to have mangroves than not to have, right?

    I should include one more line in my post here.
    "Can these mangroves help in the next tsunami?"

    Thanks for highlighting this.

  3. Do you use sunscreen/ sunblock? I hope you do since you are out in the sun so much. Am looking around for a good brand to buy and Blue Lizard from Australia seems to be the best.

    Decided not to go to Langkawi in Dec and will go to Aruba in July instead. Hope can satisfy my beachy cravings there.

    Have fun in the sun!


  4. Hi TC;
    Err... sometimes use sunscreen but most of the time, no.

    Aruba in Caribbean??!!! Wow! WoW! Wow! the Caribbean sea! That would be a 10000xxx better place than Langkawi!

    I say that it is very wise of you NOT TO COME to Langkawi in December. Dec is the time when:
    1) Everywhere is overcrowded.
    2) Cut throat prices almost everywhere.
    3) All hotels fully booked & overpriced. The worse part is when they force ppl to stay at least 5 days or 7 days.
    4) Traffic jams in Kuah town and Pantai Cenang
    5) Half kilometer of ppl queuing to go up the cable car.

    I'm so glad that you are NOT GOING TO SEE:
    1) Unscrupulous operator and irresponsible guides doing feeding frenzy to the eagles and monkeys.

    2) Mat Rempits in the mangroves.

    Wise choice, wise choice... Thanks for the update..

  5. yeah, after looking at the prices of the top resorts in Langkawi (costing RM2k+ per night) was just too ridiculous. Less rush for us too so we can spend all the time in KL. Hope to see you in PJ in Dec. It's been a long time mate!

    Will send you pics of Aruba. Hopefully we don't kena any hurricanes coz it's hurricane season now.

    Better use sunblock/sunscreen coz all the mags here talk abt skin cancer, etc. Somemore your job is out in the hot sun. Take care!!


  6. Hi TC;
    Hope to see you in PJ too. Have to catch up-lah.

    Aruba... Aruba... sounds like Aribba..Aribba..


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