BRUVing Ground for Sharks in Malaysia
The quest to find elusive sharks in Malaysia’s Tun Mustapha Park (TMP) will continue another day for Adam Junaidi Payne, WWF-Malaysia’s marine conservation officer in Kudat, Sabah.
From 15 April to 10 May 2017, Adam and partner Abdul Rahman Mokthar, a Banggi Youth Club (BYC) member, deployed BRUVs (Baited Remote Underwater Videos) no less than 35 times at 31 sites within TMP at Kukuban, Mandidara, Malawali, Maliangin, Banggi, Sibogo, and Balambangan islands.
“Abdul and I had been seafaring for almost a month on the TMP 2017 Expedition,” said Adam. “I was disappointed to not spot a single shark in the BRUV, but we did spot dolphins while en route to Balambangan Island, so that gave me hope that our BRUV might capture sharks one day.”
A typical BRUV shark reconnaissance mission places two BRUVs equipped with a GoPro cameras into the water. The pyramid-shaped metal frame holds a bait canister and is attached to floats by rope. BRUV records video footage of marine life, and provides a methodology for determining shark locations, which can later be used in TMP management plans to ensure that sharks are effectively conserved, and can even recover over time.
After 90 minutes, they will pull up the heavy BRUVs by hand. A recent mission paid off, as they recorded three giant groupers estimated at around 30-100kg each, lured by the finely chopped fish (sardines/tuna) and squid bait.
Gazetted in 2016 after more than 10 years of lobbying work by several parties including the WWF, TMP is Malaysia’s largest marine protected area, measuring almost 900,000 hectares spanning three coastal districts – Kudat, Kota Marudu, and Pitas – in northern Sabah. It provides livelihood for 85,000 residents, and is along the migratory path for endangered sea turtles, whales, dugongs, Irrawaddy dolphins and others. WWF continues to provide technical assistance at the TMP to the Sabah government.
About the Contributor
Adam Junaidi Payne has been in WWF-Malaysia for about three years and is currently based in Kudat, Sabah, as WWF-Malaysia’s marine conservation officer. His deep interest in fishing has led him to this path of marine conservation. Adam’s work includes constant community and stakeholder engagements, data collection, and patrolling within the Tun Mustapha Park. The drastic decline of marine life and marine habitat loss in Malaysia drives Adam to keep fighting for marine conservation.