Did you know that we have dolphins right here in Malaysia? Who says you got to travel far and wide to spot these intelligent creatures? With a stroke of luck and fair weather, you can spot these creatures in Langkawi! 1 Utama, in partnership with MareCet, whisked us away to the beautiful island to see dolphins in their natural habitat, and to educate us on these mammals! (If you thought that dolphins were fishes, there was your first lesson: dolphins are mammals.)
1 Utama’s “Go Green” Efforts
Even before it was a thing, 1 Utama has been “going green” – since 1995 – which makes 1 Utama Malaysia’s pioneer Eco-Mall. If you’ve ever been to 1 Utama, you’ll know that they are an enthusiastic bunch about the environment; evident in their Rainforest that spans four storeys of the mall. Within the mall, the management has taken great care to be as environmental-friendly as possible, taking steps to reduce energy consumption and promote sustainability. 1 Utama is also involved in conservation efforts with their Feed-The-Fish campaign. Visitors buy fish food to feed the fish in the Rainforest, and 100% of the sales proceeds are donated to a charity organisation annually. This year, 1 Utama has decided on MareCet as their beneficiary, and presented them with a RM 12,000 cheque on a yacht in Langkawi!
Back in 2010, MareCet was merely an idea, and co-founders Dr. Louisa Ponnampalam and Fairul Izlam Jamal Hisne see-sawed on whether they should do it. Finally, they bit the bullet and registered themselves as a non-profit NGO in 2012! Since then, they have grown from having a lone project to three projects. Besides primarily conducting research on dolphins in Langkawi and Matang, MareCet also studies dugongs in Johor. On why they chose the dolphin as their mascot and primary research target, here is what Dr. Louisa had to say:
“Dolphins are very charismatic creatures, and they’re very visible. Plankton is very important, but they’re not visible, so if you say ‘Save the Plankton’, nobody want to hirau (take notice of/care about) you,” she joked. “Also, creatures like whales and dolphins are at the top of the food chain, so they are indicators of the sea’s health levels. The higher up you go in the food chain, the more it (toxins) accumulates, so if you study the dolphin for levels of mercury or whatnot, you’ll learn a lot about the sea.”
Halfway through her educational explanation, there was a commotion on the decks.
People were running helter-skelter on the deck, scrambling for their phones and cameras.
Someone then poked in their head and said, “They said got dolphin eh.”
Needless to say, that sent us out onto the decks as well, where we looked out to the sea and saw… nothing. But then, three humped, greyish figures appeared on the surface on the water in the distance before quickly disappearing again. Everyone was ecstatic and was on high alert as the yacht slowed down for us to catch the dolphins (not literally, of course). Several more dolphins appeared, although they didn’t come near us. When we were fairly sure the dolphins weren’t going to resurface again, we did the cheque presentation, and continued the “lecture”.
Dr. Louisa simply wrapped it up by showing us pictures of how to help stranded marine animals, talking about the biggest problems marine life face, as well as her hopes for the future. A few things off the top of her head: proper waste management especially on islands, training up the next generation of dolphins researchers, working more closely with authorities on marine conservation, and seeing more marine vets in Malaysia.
Check out a video of the dolphins here, but don’t blink or you’ll miss them!
World Ocean’s Day
Organised by MareCet, this event will be held at 1 Utama this weekend from 10 am to 10 pm. Come with your family and friends to learn more about the oceans! Explore the Rainforest and feed the fish for a good cause as well! See you there!
All images were taken on board the yacht in Langkawi.