TERENGGANU EXPEDITON II
September 2020 - Present
The coral reefs of Malaysia are some of the most biodiverse ecosystems on the planet, covering 4,006 km2 and containing more than 550 species. As regional records vary in detail and quality, a large portion of peninsular Malaysia’s reefs have never been studied. This gap prevents adequate conservation policy and fails to communicate the wonders and riches of Malaysian coral reefs. We want to tell the story of exploring regions never studied and finding species never discovered, in order to engage the human spirit in what may be the most critical time in the natural history of coral reefs.
Beginning in September, we will be surveying coral reefs along the eastern coast of peninsular Malaysia. One of our objectives is to create the country's first comprehensive coral identification literature in order to increase regional and global knowledge of the biogeography of coral species. In collaboration with Marine Parks Malaysia, Malaysian coral biologists Affendi Yang Amri and Sebastian Szereday, resident and international coral reef conservationists, and professional filmmaker Miru Kim, we are determined to contribute to conservation strategies by mapping locations of high species richness and filming the story.
In September of 2019, our team traveled to Terengganu, Malaysia to monitor several recently established coral nurseries and out-plant sites in the Terengganu Marine Park. For this study, we are working alongside and training the Lang Tengah Turtle Watch Organization, who are seeking to develop their coral nursery and restoration programs. We will closely monitor these corals in order to build upon a standardized relative return-on-effort (RRE) scoring system by measuring growth and survival of several coral Genera placed in ocean nurseries and out-planted on the reef over the course of a year.
Previous research using these methodologies have proven helpful. A better understanding of the highest performing species that exhibit fast growth and high survival, both in a nursery and when outplanted, will help to streamline reef restoration both on a regional and global scale. Expanding a standardized scoring system for cultured corals will facilitate comparison across multiple species, environments, and techniques. Furthermore, establishing standards could improve restoration success and benchmarking in Malaysia and globally.
Lastly, our team was fortunate to be have the opportunity to sit down with local marine park managers, resort owners, the Director General of the Department of Fisheries, and other regional steak-holders to discuss the current known state of Malaysia's coral reef and discuss future management plans.
Terengganu Marine Park steak-holder meeting
PHOTO: DEPARTMENT OF FISHERIES MALAYSIA
MAY 2018 – JULY 2018
In support of research scientist Jesse Borden, a doctoral student at the University of Florida, Triton was able to send three team members on his expedition exploring the Arabuko Sokoke Forest searching for the Tana River Gecko (Hemidactylus modestus). Due to a high degree of habitat fragmentation, the last remaining Tana River Gecko’s are believed to be isolated to the Arabuko Sokoke Forest. The species numbers are believed to be extremely low and the potential for this species to be extinct is possible. The expedition was successful at collecting valuable information on reptile biodiversity and biomass in the forrest, but unfortunately was not able to locate the Tana River Gecko.
This expedition also served as a preliminary opportunity to establish future partnerships studying coral health and resilience in East Africa. Our team was successful at meeting with local NGO's and marine park management in the Watamu Marine National Park and surrounding areas. Future research is pending for this area of operation.
VIDEO: LONG DUONG / UNIVERSITY OF FLORIDA
In December 2017, our team explored the remote Palawan Islands of the Philippines. We were successful in filming six prominent dive sites of the region along with two 360-degree immersive videos to be later used education and research purposes.
In June 2017, our team explored the beautiful reefs of Bali. We were successful in filming 5 prominent dive sites in the region including Manta Point. All videos are currently up on YouTube for you to learn more about the area.