Scientists: Tsunami did not damage coral reefs


  • Nation
  • Tuesday, 08 Feb 2005

KUALA LUMPUR: There has been no damage to the coral reefs in Malaysia due to December’s tsunami although there were traces of sediment re-suspension. 

A seven-member team of marine scientists, who conducted a post-tsunami survey on the corals, made this discovery. 

The team, led by coral reef specialist Affendi Yang Amri, conducted the survey in Langkawi and Pulau Perak from Jan 28 to Feb 2. 

The researchers were from the Universiti Malaya Maritime Research Centre (UMMRec), World Wildlife Fund (WWF), Malaysian Society of Marine Sciences, Universiti Kebangsaan Malaysia and the World Fish Centre. 

“We were surprised to see that the reefs were not damaged and that there was minimal effect, especially after we saw pictures of the tsunami hitting our coastal areas. 

“However, there are traces of sediments on the corals in Langkawi but we can’t be certain if it is because of the tsunami or due to a long-term build-up,” Affendi said, adding that findings from the survey would be submitted to the respective authorities after Chinese New Year. 

UMMRec deputy head Associate Prof Dr Azhar Hussin said there was minimal damage because the tsunami hit during a low diurnal high tide level. 

“The timing really helped as there was minimal damage because of the tide level when the tsunami occurred,'' he added. 

WWF scientific officer (marine conservation) Lee Yoke Lee said rapid assessments and Line Intercept Transect data collected during the survey found that the tsunami did not cause any structural damage to the coral reefs. 

“Continued monitoring to assess the full impact of the tsunami will be required to see if Langkawi’s coral reefs are resilient. If the ecosystem is healthy, the coral reefs should be able to recover on their own quickly,” she added.  

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