Sunday, 21 December 2014

Artificial Reef Module System at the Andaman, Langkawi

The grounds at Andaman, Langkawi
The Andaman's beautiful grounds pay homage to nature.

Reef Restoration at the Andaman, Langkawi

Words and photos by Kristin Cosgrove

At The Yum List we are always excited by a hotel's efforts to limit environmental impact and even more thrilled when we find a property that strives to educate guests while making the earth a better place.  Which is why we jumped at the chance to find out more about the most recent project undertaken by the Andaman, a Luxury Collection Resort in Langkawi.  Together with Lafarge cement and in research cooperation from University Malaysia Terengganu (UMT), the Andaman has recently deployed an Artificial Reef Module System (ARMS) dropping 50 modules into Datai Bay. In time, the modules will help create a sustainable local fishing industry while supporting recreational and research opportunities.

Artificial Reef Module
One of the many educational signs fringing the 
Andaman's Coral Nursery 
Manager Christian Metzger says, “We have a wonderful opportunity to not only improve the environmental condition of Langkawi's reefs and fisheries but to create educational, recreational, and research activities. Artificial reefs have been used for a long time in other parts of the world and it is a great step forward in marine conservation in Southeast Asia.”

I visited the Andaman December 2nd to learn more about the project and to witness the ARMS being ceremoniously lowered into the bay.  It was a clear, sunny morning, and as I relaxed on the Andaman’s gorgeous beach, I noticed a small pod of white dolphins fortuitously playing in the area. 

Andaman, Langkawi, ARMS deployment
A crane on a barge deploys the concrete ARMS while guests watch from the Andaman's luxury catamaran.  Dr. Gerry speaks about the importance of protecting our precious reefs.
The Andaman is nestled between Datai Bay, one the most beautiful bays in the world, and a 10,000 year old rainforest. It’s a breathtaking scene and the beach is pristine, scattered with the intricate sand designs of the sand bubbler crabs. But from the beach, what isn’t readily noticeable is the dire condition of the Datai Bay reef, which was badly damaged in the 2004 Indian Ocean tsunami.  The reef protected the bay and properties from the deadly tsunami by absorbing the force and energy of the waves and in doing so, suffered extensive damage. 
Andaman ARMS deployment
Lafarge CEO Bradley Mulroney,  Kedah State Exco for Tourism Yb
Dato’ Hj Mohd Rawi Abd Hamid
, Andaman GM Christian Metzner
and Marine Biologist Dr. Gerry Goeden watch as they
ceremoniously deploy the ARMS into Datai Bay. 

Dr. Gerry Goeden, the Andaman’s Consultant Marine Biologist notes about the ARMS project, “We are not just throwing building materials in the ocean and hoping for the best, this concrete is specifically designed for reef restoration and can serve as an example for the world,“ says.  The eco-friendly modules have holes sized for the types of fish that need to be protected. Two types of concrete was designed for the project by Lafarge cement, who have been a close partner in the project. have been used; each type will be tracked and studied by UMT to find out which attracts the most marine life. It is hoped that many more modules will be dropped in the future.

The Andaman, a Luxury Collection Resort, prides itself on unique and authentic experiences, and they certainly deliver, with an eye on the environment. “[Our program is] no longer spectator tourism, this is participatory, with a synergy to drive the island forward,” says Dr. Gerry.

Several environmental programs at the Andaman work to actively include guests. For example, for several years since the tsunami, the resort’s team and guests have been working to clear dead coral from the bay, which can inhibit propagation and growth of new coral. The dead coral is ground into dust, which is then cast into a mini ARM, on which guests can then help glue coral and place into the Andaman’s impressive coral nursery.  Eventually the ARMS are placed into the bay.  Guests for the ARMS deployment ceremony had the chance to participate too; we were surprised that superglue is used to harmlessly adhere the coral to the mini ARM!

Coral Nursery Activities at the Andaman Langkawi
Guests have the chance to attach coral to mini ARMS, where they are then placed 
carefully in the nursery for growth until they are ready to be added to those in Datai Bay.
Coral Nursery Activities at the Andaman Langkawi
Coral Nursery at the Andaman offers private guided snorkelling with marine biology students and staff.
The purpose-built nursery is believed to the first of its kind in SE Asia, allowing guests to snorkel safely while learning about the fish and coral within. (Did you you know coral are actually collections of tiny animals, and not plants?) Here, private guided snorkeling is offered daily between 10am and 1pm.  I arrived just in time for fish feeding at 5:30, which is also offered daily.  Some of the children who showed up were a little skittish at first, and I have to admit it was a little unnerving to have so many fish nipping at my fingers and camera, but what a fun experience! 

Fish feeding at the Andaman Langkawi's Coral Nursery
Fish feeding at the Andaman Langkawi's Coral Nursery
The Andaman also offers daily nature walks, a sustainable menu at on-site restaurant, Jala, and I’m especially happy to notice several water refill stations on the property with cups instead of plastic bottles.
Water refill station with cups
I look forward to revisiting the Andaman in coming years to participate in more eco- friendly activities and particularly to witness the future positive effects the ARMS project will undoubtedly have on Langkawi, its eco-tourism, marine research and the fishing industry! 

Reason to visit: Beautiful beach and grounds in harmony with nature, terrific educational and participatory programs to help the environment together with qualified and educated staff, one-of-a-kind projects like the Artificial Reef Module System and the coral nursery.  

The Andaman
A Luxury Collection Resort Langkawi
Jalan Teluk Datai
07000 Malaysia
+6 04 959 1088


  1. Good effort! Let's hope some hotels can do the samething here in Penang :)