Pulau Pemanggil - Snorkelling & Trekking , Johor Malaysia
This is the reason for my visit to P.Pemanggil. Just jumping off the jetty, I realised there really wasn't a need to dive to encounter some of the most beautiful marine species to be found in these waters. USM (The Science University of Malaysia) is currently conducting a long-term study on the giant clam and the rejuvenation of reefs. I witnessed with much joy that many areas of soft and hard corals are still intact even though there have been illegal trawling activities in the area.
Snorkelling just about anywhere around the island offers favourable results. But there are a few exceptional spots.
The nice thing about having early inhabitants on the island is that jetties are always built to accommodate the villagers. Not only is it functional but it is also highly effective in preserving the reef formation close to beach. My favourite spot is around the jetty area. The many boulder corals here are the size of dinner tables and looked as though they have been arranged for an important banquet. Snooping around them never fails to surprise snorkellers. There is so much activity going on. The boulders serve as ideal cleaning stations where fishes would park themselves under the rock. Cleaner Wrasses swim out to greet their customers and give them complete body and gill work-over, ridding their customers of the unwanted parasites, and in turn, get fed. Sea anemones too are found clinging to the rock surfaces, each one fiercely guarded by one or more clownfish.
On the sea floor, it is possible to find starfish out fishing and clown triggerfish foraging around staghorns. A lone hawksbill turtle turns up once in a while to check on the scene like a grand old matre-d fussing over the service of his waiters.
Jellyfish tend to swarm the reefs during later months of the season ie. August through to October. For some protection against being stung in odd places, wear sleeved shirts or long pants or Lycra suits.
Kampung Pak Kaleh
At either end of the beach at Kampung Pak Kaleh are glorious sea gardens. An array of soft and hard corals kept me mesmerised. With such healthy gardens, you're bound to find a motley of reef fish. A group of 8 bumphead parrotfish regularly feed just off the beach. At shallower ends, young black-tip reef sharks circle round. But as you swim further out and when the seafloor gently drops away, there is a good chance that you will meet with 5-footer black tips surveying the area. Black-tip reef sharks will watch you from a distance but seldom disturb or attack humans. In fact, much media hype about the sharks today is trying to reverse the bad publicity that sharks are man-eaters.
Sharks are predators and attack to eat. When a human is attacked, it is usually of mistaken identity - thought to be a seal or a large pelagic fish. This is understandable because the shark's senses is highly tuned to sounds and vibrations. When a snorkeller or surfer splash around on the surface, a shark watching from below may often mistake him for their normal food diet. When they realise that they have bitten into something unfamiliar to them, they usually release and swim away. There is a greater chance, they say for people to be struck by lightning or run over by a car than bitten by shark. Peter Benchley, the author of 'Jaws' is now the spokesman for these magnificent creatures, urging people not to over-harvest them. However it would be irresponsible to inform that there has not been any deliberate shark attacks but humans must learn that even other creatures behave erratically once in a while. Moreover, in the US and other places where shark attacks are more frequent, there have been reports of increase shark feeding activities. Chumming waters to entice sharks to come closer to the tourist boats, have changed their feeding habits. Instead they are becoming more familiar with humans...that is the danger...human involvement.
With sharks fin a delicacy in the Orient, it estimated that 100 million sharks are harvested each year. That may sound a little far-fetched but many trawlers pick sharks off the sea, slice their fins and throw the rest of the shark back into the ocean. The shark gradually dies from its open wounds. The fins can fetch a good sum in the markets whereas their meat is not as in demand. Throwing the rest of the shark, which is still very much alive, back into the sea allows them more space on the boat to continue harvesting in large quantities before heading back to port. Sharks are vital, for they are the main predator in the marine food chain. Wiping them off the face of the earth would be detrimental to the well being of the sea for they are also the geneticist and disease controller of the oceans ie. they feed mainly on weak and sick fish. Without them, what other animal can conduct these specific jobs and fill the void? Sightings of green turtles are also common here especially during their nesting period which begins in March right through to late September. They usually nest on quiet beaches found at the back of the island. Unfortunately, turtle eggs are sought after delicacies and most nests are 'looted' by marauding bands i.e. man, iguanas or ghost crabs.
Boxfishes are common in these waters. Also, watch for the needlefish , the curious ones usually found tagging along. The batfishes are abundant here and so are the barracudas and triggerfish.
Pelagic fishes such as barracudas are very quick to act when they feel the vibrations of an injured fish struggling and are the first to arrive at the scene. So if you do see an injured fish around, be aware that the larger ones will be circling close.
A 20minute ride round to the back of the island brings you to this secluded bay. Close to Temiang beach in 20 feet of water lies a cargo wreck. On its way back to Thailand, the boat laden with maize and tamarind smashed into the rocky bay one stormy November day in 1966 and sunk instantly, taking with her one unfortunate sailor. Today, it's brimming with a new lease of life as an artificial reef. Barnacles adorn the twisted metal and reef fishes dart in and out of portholes. Visitors such as the humphead wrasse and the rock cods can be found grazing around the wreck.
There's a pretty good trek up Batu Buau. The trek starts from Kampung Buau. An opening through the thicket behind and across a bridge takes you through the island jungle and up bare rock to the peak. Duration of trek is about 45min - 1 hour, moderate pace. It is advisable to bring with, a pair of trekking shoes with a good grip as it may get slippery up the slopes ; a large bottle of mineral water and binoculars for birdwatching. Your resort will be able to provide you with a guide for the trek up if so desired.
For a breather, there is a protruding flat rock that faces an opening in the canopy..roughly halfway up the trek. This is a great place for bird watching. There are jungle mynas mimicking the calls of other birds, imperial pigeons preening themselves, wild pigeons cooing, doves flitting by, and parrots hanging off tips of branches. Other forms of wildlife are more difficult to spot. Macaques abound on the island and porcupines (or so I've been told), squirrels, flying foxes roam the island after dusk. Snakes, monitor lizards and scorpions are also common. The large reticulated python is a common visitor to the villages and are often decapitated on the spot by villagers for fear that their cats, children and livestock may be taken by these great snakes.
Except for the argumentative flying foxes, the chattering squirrels and sometimes a band of monkeys, it's unlikely that you will come across other animals in your daily encounter.
A spectacular view awaits you at the top of the rock. Pulau Tioman lies in a distant North, Pulau Aur located to the East can be seen on a good day, and you get the chance to catch a 360° view of the island. A word of caution to trekkers, Batu Buau is regarded as sacred to the locals, it is best to observe decent conduct on the rock. For instance, if you need to, do go to the bathroom before climbing the rock; if you find offerings left on the rock- do not remove them. Also, this trek is certainly not to be considered for young children. The last climb to the peak is a little bit unnerving especially having to climb up the vertical wall dangling on a rope.
The island is a station for anglers. Fishing is not allowed within the confines of the marine park except for the occasional jigging off jetties. Big game fish such as marlins and sailfish are favourites amongst fishing enthusiasts. Dorado or dolphinfish are seasonal and come by this way during May and June. Other types are the mackerels ranging from 7lb to 18lb, tuna and cobia(haruan tasik). If your intention is to fish, then please let the operators know as they will have to reserve a fishing boat on the island for the daily trips out to the open sea - and of course the charges will be different too.
Having exhausted the list of activities on and around the island, there is only one thing left to do....relax, listen to the voices of nature and forget about time....well for that while on the island