Jawatankuasa Kolej Mahasiswa (JKM) Kolej Tun Dr. Ismail (KTDI), Universiti Teknologi Malaysia (UTM) Johor and Malaysian Nature Society Johor (MNSJ) initiated a Beach Clean Up 2019 on 2nd March 2019 as an educational campaign which addressed the litter problems in Mersing shoreline. The event was held in Mersing involving 1 Ornithologist from from Australia, 6 Malaysian Nature Society Johor members and 43 volunteers form UTM.
The 3-hour cleaning was truly an amazing and surprising experience. The amount of rubbish exceeded our expectation. Although we only covered around 10% from the whole beach area, we collected more than 1000 various types of plastic, around 50 fishing gears and other rubbish. If the garbage problem around the coast is not immediately addressed, the ecosystem will be endangered and affected in a long run.
After the cleaning session, we went to the Panti Bird Sanctuary in Kota Tinggi, Johor. It is a hotspot for bird watchers in Malaysia as well as Singapore. The sanctuary is easily accessed by car and is home to over 200 resident species and over 30 migratory species. We get the opportunity to listen to a talk on migration of bird from a professional. It was stated that birds from colder regions migrate hundred miles away from home to take shelter from the sheer cold. Hence, Mersing beach is one of the habitats for the migrating birds to rest their wings before continuing their journey to the other land. If the beach is unfavorable to the birds, those birds cannot live there and will eventually cause them to die as a result of exhaustion as they cannot find the right place to rest.
Therefore, to preserve the birds’ lives, we organized this program to provide places for them to feed and rest. Future generations should have been given a chance to see various species of birds in real life, not only in books or on websites. If we do not preserve our beaches for the birds, extinction is inevitable as they could die during migration. Other than that, birds mating will unlikely to happen because of nature’s condition.
We are hoping that the Mersing Beach area will be gazetted under Important Bird Area (IBA) and Key Diversity Area (KBA) with the help of various bodies especially the government of Johore. Besides, we urge all people to take care of our beach and reduce the usage of plastic by following 3R principle which are reduce, reuse and recycle.