Doing their part
The Perhentian islands — Perhentian Kecil and Besar — have been a tourism destination since the 1980s and started out as a small-scale backpacker destination. Today there are about 20-odd beach chalets with several upmarket resorts and 20 to 25 dive operators.
One establishment, Watercolours Resorts and Dive Centre, started out as a dive centre in Perhentian in 1995 with an environmental slant. One of its founders, Anke Caron, even had her own turtle hatchery and used to buy eggs from the poachers at slightly above market value.
“Tourists used to donate money to help buy the eggs. But Anke closed the hatchery because the beach is eroded and now there’s a government project,” says her husband Peter Caron, a diver and former environmental consultant.
Today, Caron runs a weekly Reef Talk at the dive centre, a free one-hour presentation open to the public. He talks on coral reef ecology, why it’s important, the threats to coral reefs and what we can do about it.
Watercolours also operates as the only reef check facility on the island, under the Sustainable Island Programme with ReefCheck Malaysia. They have surveyed virtually every reef on the islands, collecting data, monitoring the health of the reefs and documenting their potential decline.
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