25 – 30 June

Kudat Harbour

Pulau Banggi

The efficient WWF Malaysia machinery was immediately felt when I started getting a series of text messages regarding transport, hotel accommodations and our overall visit to Kudat from Betty of the WWF KK office. Then Sofia Johari, the CEPA or Community Education, Protection, and Awareness Officer of Kudat-Banggi PCA left me a message that she was going to coordinate our Kudat trip, and boy, did she. Upon our arrival, she gave us a professionally prepared PowerPoint presentation which in an hour gave us an idea of what the Kudat area was like and what WWF projects there were.

Picking up some information about Kudat PCA from the WWF Malaysia website, our new images somewhat weaves a photo montage of what this area is all about:

Kudat is a new park at the northernmost tip of Borneo.The Kudat-Banggi Priority Conservation Areafeatures the rich and productive waters off thenorthernmost tip of the island of Borneo.

An old black mangrove tree at sundown in Sepirak.

An old black mangrove tree at sundown in Supirak

Split level of a beautiful black mangrove with its submerged aerial roots in low tide

Split level of a beautiful black mangrove with its submerged aerial roots at low tide in Supirak

Another type of mangrove in Pulau Banggi

Another type of mangrove in Pulau Banggi

A pretty awesome rock outcrop with spectacular reefs near marine protected area of Pulau Maliangan Besar

A pretty awesome rock outcrop with spectacular reefs near the marine protected area of Pulau Maliangin Besar. And it is a crocodile infested area too!

It was declared globally significant for its rich mix of habitats (coral reefs, seagrasses, mangroves,and open sea), endangered species such as dugong and sea turtles, and its fisheries. Kudat-Banggi forms the southern half of the Balabac Straits separating Borneo from Palawan, Philippines and joins the Sulu Sea to the South China Sea. The straits are an important passage for oceanic fish, whale sharks and sea turtles.

Live Reef Fish Trade growing farm in Tampakan

Live Reef Fish Trade growing farm in Tampakan

Onboard one of the many trawlers in Kudat Bay

Onboard one of the many trawlers in Kudat Bay

Sofia Johari - WWF shutterbug at work onboard the back deck of a trawler

Sofia Johari – WWF shutterbug at work onboard the back deck of a trawler

Seaweed farming in Pulau Banggi with awesome weather happening on the island

Seaweed farming in Pulau Banggi with awesome weather happening on the island

Sunset shot of a "bagang" FAD or fish attracting devise to catch anchovies at night using kerosine lamps

Sunset shot of a “bagang” FAD or fish attracting devise to catch anchovies at night using kerosine lamps.

The Sabah State Government proposed the area for gazettement as the Tun Mustapha Park under the jurisdiction of Sabah Parks. When gazetted, it will be the largest marine protected area in Malaysia and one of the largest in Southeast Asia at over 1 million hectares. WWF-Malaysia is assisting the state government to create the Tun Mustapha Park as a multiple-use marine area.

Fascinating faces and cultures living in the Coral Triangle

Fascinating faces and cultures living in the Coral Triangle

Intricate head veils or ta of the Suluk women of Pulau Banggi

Intricate head veils or cador of the Suluk women of Sibogo

A Suluk father caring for his newborn in Kampung Sibogo, Pulau Banggi

A Suluk father caring for his newborn in Kampung Sibogo, Pulau Banggi

WWF-Malaysia concentrates on building support for the park amongst stakeholders. The estimated80,000 people of various ethnic origins living in and around the proposed park earn their livelihoods from the areas’ resources. WWF-Malaysia believes that these people must benefit from the park and vice versa. The park should enhance livelihoods and access to resources while stakeholders, inhabitants and visitors should cooperate with relevant agencies in park management.”

Heartbreaking sight of a decomposing turtle with a trawler in the background. This turtle is possibly a by-catch from one of these fishing vessels

Heartbreaking sight of a decomposing turtle with a trawler in the background. This turtle could possibly have been by-catch thrown away by one of these fishing vessels

Sofia Johari and a WWF volunteer explain a new Trawler TED Turtle Exclusion Devise to volunteers of the Banggi Environmental Centre in Karakit

Sofia Johari and a WWF volunteer explain a new Trawler TED Turtle Exclusion Devise to volunteers of the Banggi Environmental Centre in Karakit

WWF volunteer Hermand in his livelihood weaving project site Maliangin Besar

WWF volunteer Hermand in his livelihood weaving project site Maliangin Besar

Irwan Mustapa, WWF marine biologist uses a CoralWatch Color Health Chart to check the state of the reef around Tigabu

Irwan Mustapa, WWF marine biologist uses a CoralWatch Color Health Chart to check the state of the reef around Tigabu

Robecca Jumin Project Leader of the WWF Kudat PCA brought us to a Chinese restaurant in KK with abundant live fish in tanks

Robecca Jumin Team Leader of the WWF Kudat PCA brought us to a Chinese restaurant in KK with abundant live fish in tanks

As serendipity would have it we met new/old friends, WWF interns Peixuan and Nattelee or otherwise renamed Kudatus Gigglelatus or the Giggles. These girls laughed so much it was refreshing to feel young again plugging in to their youthful energies. The laughter level couldn’t get any higher with Alya around as well.

Peixuan, Sofia & Nattelee in Kudat

Peixuan, Sofia and Nattelee in Kudat

Complete Expedition Team with new friends from WWF Malaysia

Complete Expedition Team with new friends from WWF Malaysia