5 Ways To Be A Responsible Beach Bum

Recently, I joined Japanese skincare brand KOSÉ and ocean conservation organisation Ocean Quest on an excursion to Pulau Kapas, just off the coast of Terengganu, to learn more about coral reef protection and keeping our oceans clean and safe. Here’s what I discovered!

Pulau Kapas is a fairly-secluded, no-frills island, 10 minutes away by speedboat from Terengganu’s coastline. It remains mostly untouched and surrounded by pristine-clear water. Beyond the ocean’s surface, you can find colourful coral reefs and sea creatures.

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Marine diversity in Pulau Kapas…

A photo posted by Ocean Quest Asia (@oceanquestasia) on

Photo: @oceanquestasia

Now, we wouldn’t want to see a beautiful sight like that tarnished by our very own hands, would we? Here are tips on how to be responsible at the beach:

  1. Don’t litter!

This should really go without saying. Who would want to visit a ‘trashed’ beach? Besides the ugly sight, which could cause a decrease in tourism (thus harming the local socio-economy), animals living in the area could get hurt by the rubbish you’ve left lying about.

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Photo: surfcitynights.com

  1. Don’t move ocean creatures from their natural habitat

Starfish make pretty and cute decorations for your room, but they’re living creatures too! If you want beach souvenirs, make sure you only pick up the ones that are already fully dried out. Alternatively, try searching for accessories or decor made from clay.

GIF: giphy.com

  1. Slather on loads of sunscreen

Remember to pack on the SPF – a glowing tan is nice, but sunburn, skin cancer and other sun-related damage aren’t.

GIF: giphy.com

  1. But make sure they aren’t harmful to the ocean!

However, did you know that your sunscreen can actually be dangerous to corals? Some chemicals commonly found in sunscreens activate dormant viruses living on coral. Just like people and animals, corals can get sick too, and then they die. This means loss of habitat for sea creatures, destruction to the food chain and less tourism (nobody wants to see dead coral!), which could lead to a weakened economy. Lose-lose for everyone!

GIF: giphy.com

Sunscreens like KOSÉ Sekkisei’s sun protection range contain herbal ingredients that are safe for both us and the coral reef. In addition, as part of its Save the Blue 2016 campaign from 1st July to 30th September, KOSÉ will be donating two per cent of sales from its limited edition Sekkisei SAVE the BLUE Lotion (500ml) and Sekkisei Herbal Gel towards Ocean Quest’s coral conservation and restoration programmes!

Photo: @kosemy

  1. Volunteer!

You can do your part in more ways than one. Besides monetary contributions, volunteering is much appreciated. Many beach sites around Malaysia offer ocean volunteering programmes. Ocean Quest is an organisation that offers coral conservation and rehabilitation workshops throughout Malaysia, the Philippines and Thailand. Registration can be done on the spot! As part of our trip, we participated in Ocean Quest’s Coral Propagation Workshop to restore and revive healthy corals. Here’s how we helped save the reef:

  1. Cut the healthy parts of the coral away from the damaged or dead sections. We used medical tools, and made sure to wear gloves dipped in sea water so we wouldn’t pass any infections to the coral.

2. Find a bare piece of rock and position one piece of healthy coral on the rock; make sure there’s only one piece of coral per rock or else they will grow and fight for space. Glue with superglue first, then drip a special catalyst mixture to make sure the coral adheres to the rock under water.

3. Move the rock back into the water, where it will be taken to a deeper part of the ocean to be ‘planted’, thus forming a coral garden where corals can grow and regain health!

Photo: Ocean Quest Asia

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