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Centre for

Marine Biodiversity and Biotechnology

From the shoreline to the deep ocean, tackling issues from pure ecology
and physiology to aquaculture, marine spatial planning and conservation.

Malaysia 2018

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MSc Tropical Coral Reef Course in Malaysia 

Twenty Marine MSc students from the Edinburgh campus recently travelled to Malaysia to take part in the Tropical Coral Reef Management and Monitoring course. The itinerary began with a workshop at the Heriot Watt University Malaysia campus in Putrajaya, where the Provost Professor Mushtaq Al-Atabi kicked off with a session on what the employability skills of the future will entail, including a focus on Emotional Intelligence and Networking Quotients. Following a campus tour, Heriot Watt staff from Edinburgh and Orkney campuses made presentations about their research in Microplastics, Restoration of Oyster Reefs and Biofouling in Renewable Energy Systems. The group then took a coach journey across country to the East coast city of Terengganu to continue the itinerary. A visit to the Setiu Wetlands project was hosted by Dr Jarina Mohd Jani (Universiti Malaysia Terengganu). Here a community group has been working to replant the Mangroves and to raise awareness of this important Blue Carbon habitat. This was done through the building of a boardwalk across the mudflats and by training of local guides, to enable visitors to the area to learn more about how this habitat sustainably supports the livelihoods of indigenous people. Students then spent seven days offshore at the UMT Bidong Island Marine Research station; here long hours were spent in-water, to enable the development of identification skills for marine biodiversity assessments, to improve in-water skills of snorkelling and diving and to apply these to undertake a wide range of coral reef survey techniques to assess the health of reefs. When you are in one of the most biodiverse hotspots on the planet, this is no easy matter but what a great place to be able to undertake these studies. Before heading back to the UK, a visit was made to the Lake Kenyir Sanctuary, the largest lake in SE Asia and home to a hydro electric project with 4 x 100 MW turbines installed. The project showcases that such areas can be combined for other purposes, and here as well as Flood Mitigation, EcoTourism has proven very popular, with many people visiting each year to see the lake and to spend time relaxing in Nature. The rainforest which surrounds the Lake is home to rare ferns, exotic orchids, hornbills, elephants, and panthers, with more than 8,000 species of flowers, 2,500 species of plants and trees, 800 species of orchids, and 300 species of fungus. At the end of the itinerary, students enjoyed a cultural tour of the city of Terengganu, and a farewell dinner on the final night provided an opportunity to reflect and to thank everyone involved in contributing to a great learning opportunity.