White sandy beaches, crystal clear blue sea, brilliant underwater world….. Redang Island is located at 45 km offshore of Terengganu. Redang archipelago comprises 9 islands, the Lima Island, Paku Besar Island, Paku Kecil Island, Kerengga Besar Island, Kerengga Kecil Island, Ekor Tebu Island, Ling Island, Pinang Island and Redang Island. This archipelago is abounds with marvelous marine fishes, turtles and coral reefs, ensuring a great snorkelling and scuba-diving experience. Redang Island which is approximately 7km in length 6km in width, is the largest of all other islands in the Marine Park.
The Redang archipelago has been designated as Pulau Redang Marine Parks Malaysia as to conserve the islands’ unique ecosystem. There are 500 species of live corals, more than a thousand species of invertebrates and almost 3000 species of fishes which includes manta rays, stingrays, sharks and whale sharks, all living in harmony in the reefs fringing the islands. It is a real heaven for divers.
Diving enthusiasts and underwater photographers will definitely be entranced by the sights of the islands, which are ranked among the best coral reef in the world. Among the attractions at the twenty over different diving spots, there are shipwrecks near Pinang Island, black coral garden as well as the mysterious submerged chamber, both located in the vicinity of Lima Island. And not Forgetting is the Mini Mount situated between Kerenggan Besar Island and Kerenggan Kecil Island. Redang waters also contains two historic shipwrecks. The H.M.S Prince of Wales and H.M.S. Repulse were sunk here during the WWII, setting the stage for the Japanese occupation of Malaya.
History of The People
The early settlers of Redang Island were believed to have descended from the Bugis of Celebes, Indonesia. It was said that there were seven Bugis siblings traveled from Celebes to look for new settlement. One of the members, Batin Talib has finally decided to make Redang Island his new home. He established the first village faced towards the lagoon at Telok Kalong Besar on the east of the island. To shelter from the strong monsoon wind, he moved to a smaller island on the south which he named Pinang Island due to the betel nut palms (pinang) here. Another member, Batin Mina was said to have settled down in Perhentian Island and his sister Batin Cik Siti headed to Hulu Terengganu. The whereabouts of the rest Batins was however unknown.
Population of Redang Island
Today, Redang Island is a home for a community of nearly 250 fisherman families who are believed to be the descendents of the Bugis. They build their homeland in a new village at the left bank of Sungai Redang estuary, approximately 3 kilometers inland from the previous one. It has been characterized by rapid economic growth and improvement in most social indicators in recent years, mainly contributed by tourism and fishing industry.
It is always says that, the multi races Malaysian society has created an ideal environment to the country to nurture a rich cultural background with lot of legends. This is especially obvious in name of places.
Due to its strategic location, Redang Archipelago was once a traders’ passage-by between Siam (Thailand today) and the Malaya Archipelago. It was a temporary anchorage for them in their miles long trading journey.
Among these passers-by, there was a trader from Terengganu, Awang Sulong Muda whose wife was Cik Hitam Pasir Panjang Muda Elok Terenganu. The Awang couples together with their lady-in-waiting, Dayang Sri Jawa and Hulubalang, Awang Selamat were used to stop and had their break in Redang Island in their trading route. They tided the fowls which they brought along at southeastern of the island which is called Pasir Macam Ayam (chicken-alike sand) today. The rock that this family tided their fowls is still standing there in the island until today, but one might wonder the size of the fowls when looking at the huge size of this rock.
Other than this fowls tided rock, there are two other rocks both embedded with each other standing on a hill in Teluk Kalong. These embedded rocks look very much like the rears of an elephant and therefore are called Batu Gajah (elephant rocks) by the local. Batu Gajah is believed to be the marine elephants or Gajah Laut which were turned into stones due to some unknown reasons.
The cultural rich condition in Malaysia has further enriched by mythos found in folk’s believes. The existence of Orang Bunian (the fairies) in legendary stories is no longer an unfamiliar topic.
In Redang Island, Orang Bunian were said to have resided at the five cluster stones, Batu Surat or Batu Bedung (letter stones) near Pasir Changar Hutang. It was very usual in those days that the villagers will come to these Orang Bunian to inform them of any kenduri (banguet) to be held. They will also inform the fairies of the number of guests expected. Then, on the day of the kenduri, a full set of crockery will appear from nowhere for the kenduri purposes.
Not far from here is another group of rocks, the Batu Tok Kong which, is a worshiping place for some devotees due to the belief that there are Orang Bunian reside here.
To the southeastern of the island is another worship rock, Tanjung Telaga Batu. The worshipping practices started due to a saying that there stayed a man called Syeikh Samarani who would grant requests. No one can tell how true is the saying but up to late 1970’s, there were still people placing their offering and requesting for favours.
The legendary of Redang Archipelago will never be completed if without the turtle like stone laying on top of a rock at Tajung Batu Pepanji, somewhere between Teluk Dalam and Pasir Changar Hutang. This turtle stone is said to be the guardian of all the turtles in Redang Waters.
Whether the fragrant reported by the villagers came from Puteri Mayang Mas who is reputed to reside at Pasir Mak Kepit or there are magic which made the water puddle in Pasir Gontang supplies inexhaustible water, it is all suggesting a room for the readers to imagine and buy-in. However this will never influence the mysterious of Redang Archipelago, instead has become part of its heritage which added to the fascination of these islands.
Garden Under The Sea
As the largest island among the Redang Archipelago, Pulau Redang is not only made famous by its white sandy beach but also the world lying beneath this crystal clear water which, is not only paradise for marine life but also for natural lovers. Snorkeling or diving in the sea around Pulau Redang is a breathtaking experience where, the water surrounding Pulau Redang is home to some 3,000 species of fish, 1.000 of species of bivalves and 500 species of reef-building coral.
Coral reefs are found in the shallow as well as the deep water around the islands. They are formed by gradual accumulation and transformation of tiny soft-bodied animals, closely related to sea anemones. One of the very common coral found in the waters of Pulau Redang is Staghorn corals. This reef-building corals are often found in shallow areas. They are green, brown or yellowish in colour and they provide shelter for a variety of small fishes and other sea animals.
In the deeper water there are sea fans, soft tree corals, cup coral and several species of nudibranch. Some deeper rocks are covered with leathery soft corals with some soft tree corals, cup corals, tunicates and sponges. Large giant clams are often found here.
Then on the sand itself are larger soft corals and sea fans, whip corals, table corals, mushroom corals, boulder corals, nudibranch, sea stars, cushin stars and sea urchin.
Perhaps you will agree that the glory of this underwater garden will eclipse if without the existence of fish. Fish chasing each other in the coral or swimming in groups in the dark blue sea like a group of patrolling soldiers, making this garden as fascinating and as colourful as the colour palette of an artist.
Shoaling fish such as jacks and snappers and rabbitfish, or groupers silver barracudas, clownfish, triggerfish, parrotfish, stingrays, hammerheads and Green turtles etc. is always surprises the divers. There have been a few times when divers have spotted a whale shark at Big Mount, one of the popular dive sites in Pulau Redang. And if you are lucky, you might spot a cuttlefish, squid and/or Eagle ray while snorkeling.
The best location for snorkeling on this island is found at the southern coast around the Pulau Pinang and Pulau Ekor Tebu. Below sea level, you will get to see some of the more beautiful sea creatures including the batfish, angelfish, boxfish and butterfly fish. There are also many multicolored creatures that eat off anemone, sponges and bivalves. For diving enthusiasts, there are about 18 dive sites around Pulau Redang, each has its own way to surprise the divers.
Conservation has been taken place by gazetted this island as one of the marine park in Malaysia in order to protect the marine life in this marine paradise. Activities such as fishing, collecting corals and marine life, and anchoring boats directly on the reef are prohibited within two nautical miles of these islands.
Did You Know?
Bioluminescent Ostracods (also know as Firefleas/Sea firefly) Found at front beach of Redang Reef Resort, The guide call as blue sand. Ostracods are microscopic crustaceans, typically 0.2mm to 2mm long but are readily fossilised and can occur in enormous numbers in some sediments. Ostracods inhabit in aquatic environment use bioluminescence during mating where the males will attract females to them. Males ostracods flash in a sequence as they swim to attract females. Bioluminescence is blue colour because all colors of light do not transmit equally through ocean water, so if the purpose of bioluminescence is to provide a signal that is detected by other organisms, then it is important that the light be transmitted through seawater. Blue light transmits best through seawater.
Turtles has appeared on earth for more than 100 million years, to the age of dinosaurs, with the different that these living dinosaurs are still surviving through the decades, despite that environment on earth has been changing throughout the this period. Studies reports show that it is possible for a turtle to live for hundreds years of time, and this explains why the Chinese society treats turtles as a symbol of longevity.
Turtles are categorised according to its physical appearance, behaviour and nesting site. To your surprise, sex of hatchings is determined by the temperature of the surrounding sand, which a female turtle lays its eggs. A warm nest will result in mostly female hatchings while males are mostly come from a cooler nest.
There are seven recognized species of sea turtle in the world, which are divided into two families, Dermochelydae and Cheloniidae. The only species that is categorised in the Dermochelydae family is the Leatherback turtle The rest six species, i.e. Green turtle, Olive Ridley turtle, Hawksbill turtle, Loggerhead, Kemp’s Ridley turtle and Flatback turtle are all belong to the Cheloniidae family. Among these seven species, four choose to nest in Malaysia beaches.
Leatherback turtle (Dermochelys coriacea)
The name Leatherback turtle derives from its smooth leathery carapace or shell. Because of its star fruit-like leathery soft shell, the locals also call Leatherback ‘Penyu Belimbing’. An adult Leatherback can reach a length of 2 meters and weigh up to 900 kg. It is the largest turtle in the world.
Although leatherback breeds in the tropics, they spend much of their life foraging in very cold seas. Their body temperature raises several degrees above that of their environment. The powerful front flippers of these turtles enable them to swim for a long periods of time in the sea. They regularly dive to depth of over 400 meters with a recorded maximum depth of 1200 meters. Leatherbacks are excellent swimmers and divers, indeed.
In Malaysia, Leatherback nests only in beaches in Terengganu with Rantau Abang famous to be the major nesting concentration.
Green turtle (Chelonia mydas)
Green turtle or Penyu agar is called by this name because of its greenish soft body and jelly like substance. Unfortunately this special feature has also made them a very popular food in some restaurants. Green turtles are carnivorous in the first few days of their lives and subsequently become herbivorous. They feed on seaweeds and algae. An adult Green turtle can reach the length of 110cm and weight of 150kg. Female Green turtles can lay 140 eggs per nesting and each takes 50-70 days for incubation.
To date, Green turtles are among the most widely spread turtles in Malaysia waters with the nesting site can be found in Pulau Redang Pulau Perhentian and Cherating in east coast, Pantai Remis in west coast of Peninsular Malaysia and some other beaches in west Malaysia.
Hawksbill turtle (Eretmochelys imbricata)
The Hawksbill turtle or Penyu Karah derives it names from the hawk-like beak. Hawksbill turtle has hard attractive dark brown shell or shell with yellow and brown overlapping scales. This beautiful shell makes Hawksbill turtle a hunting target for the tortoise-shell jewelry trading which lead them to endangering. Adult Hawksbill has a carapace of 70-90cm and weighted up to 60kg.
Beaches in Pulau Gulisaan of Sabah is the major nesting site of Hawksbill turtle found in South East Asian region. However, this beautiful turtle can also been found in Pulau Redang of Terengganu.
Olive Ridley turtle (Lepidochelys olivacea)
Another species, which is found in Malaysia waters is the Olive Ridley turtle. Olive Ridley turtle is the smallest of all the turtle found in the world where an adult Olive Ridley is only 60-65cm in length and 35-40kg in weight. It is also called Penyu Lipas by the locals. Just like the name implies, Olive Ridley turtle has olive-green or gray colour shell. This turtle feeds mainly on shrimps, jellyfish, crabs and snails.
Although nesting of Olive Ridley in Malaysia is not concentrated and sparse, some nesting can still be found in Pulau Redang and beaches in Kelantan.
Marine Park Regulation and Conservation
Marine park are ideal places for viewing the rich aquatic life that abound in Malaysia’s water. There are 5 marine parks and tourist wishing to visit these parks must take note of regulations.
What is Marine Park ?
A Marine park is an area of the sea zoned as a sanctuary for the coral reef community which is considered as possibly the most productive ecosystem in the world, with its diversity of flora and fauna. Coral reefs are also important breeding and nursery grounds for many commercially important species of marine organisms and fish. Among the objectives of the marine park and Marine reserves are :
Preservation and protection of coral reef areas from the impact of development.
Upgrade and preserve the natural habitat of endangered species of aquatic life.
Establishment of zones for preservation of the aquatic flora and fauna and also for the purpose of research and educational activities.
Establishment of zones for recreational uses consistent with the carrying capacity of the area.
What are the benefits of Marine Park?
With the establishment of the Marine Park, the benefits are as follows:
The ecosystem and habitat of marine life will be protected and maintained
Rejuvenation of over exploited zones and their maintenance for the protection of endangered species of marine organisms.
Establishment of zones for research and educational purposes.
Establishment of zones for recreational uses and tourism.
Do’s and Don’ts in Marine Park
Provisions for the establishment and management of the marine parks in the Fisheries Act 1985 allows for the control of the following activities. Permitted Activities :
– Underwater photography
– Observation and appreciation of the aquatic flora and fauna
– Scuba Diving
Prohibited Activities (except with permission) :
– Water skiing, speed boat racing and jet skiing
– Destruction, removal or collection of the corals
and other aquatic life
– Vandalizing and structure or object within the marine park
– Anchoring of boats over the coral areas.
– Carrying and using weapons that endanger aquatic life.
– Fishing in the park vicinity. (within a 3.2km radius)
– Discharging of pollutants and rubbish
A levy of RM5.00 for adult and RM2.50 for children is charged for entry to all marine parks in the country.
Malaysia is renowned for its natural beauty but it is the coral reefs located primarily around these off -shore islands that will lure you to one of the best diving destinations in the world, the Redang archipelago. Suitable substrates, clear water with temperatures ranging from 27 ° to 31.5 ° C as well as salinity in range of 31 to 34 ppt are conducive to coral reef development and healthy growth of marine life. These conditions are just as suitable for you to explore the underwater realm of the following islands in comfort and ease.
Visibility generally depends on sea conditions but is excellent from the months of April till October. All dive spots are located within a 30 minute speedboat ride from the resort.