The program aims to understand the population ecology and behaviour of marine mammals (whales, dolphins and dugong) and sea turtles, and human-animal interactions in Malaysian waters. The research methods used have included boat, aerial, fisherman interview and questionnaire surveys, and site investigations on stranded or incidentally caught animals. Recently, research has progressed by using advance techniques (UAV and USV, satellite and radio telemetry, bioacoustics, and molecular/isotope analysis) with international support and collaboration.
The program mainly focusses on the following research:
- Occurrence, Distribution and Genetic Diversity of Irrawaddy (Orcaella brevirostris) and Indo-Pacific Humpback (Sousa chinensis) Dolphins in the Bay of Brunei and Matang Waters, Perak.
- Studies of Acoustic Characteristics and Behaviour of Irrawaddy (Orcaella brevirostris) and Indo-Pacific Humpback (Sousa chinensis) Dolphins in the Bay of Brunei and Matang Waters, Perak.
- Ecological Studies on Dugong (Dugong dugon) and Seagrass in the Bay of Brunei.
- Stable Isotope Studies on Marine Mammals, Sea Turtles, and It’s Preys in the Bay of Brunei and Matang Waters, Perak.
- Incidental Catches of Marine Mammals in Fisheries in Malaysia.
- Genetic and Health Studies of Sea Turtles Foraging in the Bay of Brunei.
- Tagging and Nesting Biology of Green and Hawksbill Turtles in Chagar Hutang, Redang Island, Terengganu.
The program in UMT is currently the main collaborator in conducting the Working Package for Marine Endangered Megafauna in the project “Monitoring and Conservation of the Coastal Ecosystem in the
South China Sea” and the IOC/WESTPAC project “Regional Study of Marine Endangered Species (Mammals and Sea Turtles) in the Tropical Asia for Effective Conservation (MESTA)”. The projects are coordinated by FIO and mainly supported by the China-ASEAN Maritime Cooperation Fund.
- To make a major contribution to the knowledge on marine mammal and sea turtle population ecology and behaviour in Malaysia.
- To become a Malaysian focal point and reference centre on marine mammal and sea turtle for the IOC Sub-Commission for the Western Pacific (WESTPAC).
Assoc. Prof. Dr. Saifullah Arifin bin Jaaman @ Sharman (Leader)
Dr. Uzair bin Rusli
Dr. Maizah binti Mohd Abdullah
Dr. Siti Tafzilmeriam binti Sheikh Abdul Kadir
Dr. Zhang Xuelei (FIO, China)
Dr. Zulqarnain bin Mohamed (UM)
Asoc. Prof. Dr. Juanita Joseph (UMS)
Hairul Masrini binti Muhammad (XU)