GEORGE TOWN: Long established as a hotspot for recreational anglers, Pulau Kendi in the south of Penang island might become an attraction for another kind of outdoor enthusiasts – snorkellers.
Dive instructor Goh Teong Chye checked out the shallow waters around the island and was amazed to find an abundance of live corals flourishing just beneath the surface, as well as a multitude of marine life.
“We spotted corals just beneath the surface, at depths of just 1.5m to 2.5m, and the current was calm within the cove on the eastern side of the island, ” he said.
“We saw soft corals waving their tentacles in the current while fishes, crabs and sea urchins swam among them.”
The 25-year-old certified technical diver, who has made over 800 dives around the region, took a fishing boat with his team to the island recently.
He proposed that proper facilities such as a pontoon be set up for boats so that visitors can dock without landing on the uninhabited island.
Goh, however, noted that Pulau Kendi’s proximity to the mainland meant that it could suffer from cloudy water at certain tidal phases.
“The seabed along the straits is muddy and strong waves will kick up silt, turning the water murky and reducing visibility.
“It may not be ideal for scuba diving, but it is still a fun place to snorkel on the surface and explore marine life during gentle tides.“Other states have got their own islands for marine activities and Penang could start its own, ” he said.
In the last 10 years, the Fisheries Department has dropped more than 100 artificial reefs around Pulau Kendi to spur fish population.
Pulau Kendi is 4km from the southernmost tip of Penang island.
The natural coral, the artificial reefs and several old shipwrecks nearby combine to make the waters around the 27ha island ideal fish spawning and breeding grounds.
Pelagic fishes such as grouper, bream, snapper, scad, mackerel and even turtles have been spotted in the clear azure sea around the island.
It was reported that Universiti Sains Malaysia academics have at various times suggested that Pulau Kendi be nominated as a national marine park.
It was also reported that the Penang government owns 28.5ha of this island while private individuals own another 3.2ha on it.
Meanwhile, state environment committee chairman Phee Boon Poh said the state government did not have definite plans to develop Pulau Kendi.
“However, we do not restrict any recreational activities on the island.
“People are free to carry out recreational fishing or snorkelling near the island.
“We have not planned anything for the island but those going there should not harvest anything from the forest or engage in commercial fishing, ” he said.
Phee added that the state was aware that many anglers have gone to the island to catch squid which is abundant in the area.