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Last day of diving in Tioman, peninsular Malaysia side. A day dedicated to the dreaded acanthaster, coral starfish ...
This Saturday is my last day of diving at Tioman. I agree one day without bubbles, tomorrow, so that my combi has time to dry, since it will have to redo my bag. I must indeed be at Johor Bahru Monday night, to take my plane to Sandakan (Borneo) Tuesday morning.
An extensive ecological operation is taking place this weekend on the island, organized every year in Tioman, at the initiative of the government and the local office of tourism and the environment: the harvest of "crowns of thorns", literally the "Crowns of thorns". TheAcanthaster planci, of its scientific name, is part of the family of sea stars. It feeds on coral polyps and is able to destroy entire sections of reef when its population is too dense.
This is the case in Tioman, where invading sea stars bristling with venomous spines threaten the fragile coral ecosystem. Started yesterday, the harvest of acanthasters mobilizes the 14 diving centers of the island.
A delicate harvest
Today is our turn! After a first and remarkable exploration dive on the site of Over there, rocky island surrounded by a beautiful coral reef off Tioman, we divide into groups of three for the next dive. I am with my friends Maz and Alex. We are given a net bag and a hook to pick up the dreaded acanthasters.
Maz handles the hook, Alex holds the net, which is gradually increasing. We must pass the end of the hook gently under the starfish, which rolls into a ball, like a hedgehog. Avoid over-stressing the animal and be careful not to rub the stinging spines. My friends apply. I do the tracking and designates the acanthasters that I find. Then I admire the job taking pictures ...
Driven by our momentum, we will make a very long dive of more than an hour, not too deep, in the zone of 5-10 meters and will bring to the surface the full bag, heavy of these crowns of thorns sips of water.
We are all three, by far, those who have found the most ... and proud to have completed our mission!