KOTA KINABALU: A cargo ship that was stranded in waters off Pulau Kalampunian off Kudat district has caused damage to corals in the area, say local tourism players and conservationists.
They are calling on authorities and the vessel owner to take remedial action including restoration work on corals there.
Bluefin Surf and Dive founder Ivan Tan said the vessel crashed through some corals when it was stranded several days ago due to navigational problems.
"The incident damaged the corals and created a path underwater.
“For now I can’t say exactly how serious the damage is, but I think Sabah Parks and other relevant authorities should come and restore them, ” he said, adding that the damaged area was close to a dive site known as Nemo Point.
Tan said he and other divers had gone to the area to check out the situation as they had to bring divers and snorkelling guides there.
He said a similar incident occurred in late 1970s or 1980s but this time, the damage could be more serious.
"We are hoping that restoration work can be conducted in those affected areas as these corals take between five and 10 years to grow," he said.
Kudat is part of the 898,762ha of the Tun Mustapha Park, whose unique biodiversity supports a series of complex and linked habitats.
It is also home to endangered species such as green turtle and dugong.
Kudat Turtle Conservation Society chairperson Sofia Johari said based on a study by Universiti Malaysia Sabah, the affected area was an important foraging site for the protected green and hawksbill sea turtles.
"The damage to the area could have a severe impact on sea turtle populations in the area and those originating from other parts in the region," she said.