TRACC, or Tropical Research And Conservation Centre, is a marine conservation organization dedicated to protecting the marine life and aquatic environment of the Celebes sea, and focused in particular on restoring the coral reefs which were severely damaged by the local fish bombing practices.
The centre is located off the east coast of Malaysian Borneo, on Pom Pom Island, which is one of six important natural nesting and feeding sites for sea turtles in the Semporna Archipelago. After decades of nest poaching, turtle populations are today still threatened by man’s greed, and their survival unfortunately still requires TRACC’s intervention. TRACC therefore undertakes regular turtle identification dives to closely monitor each species, and contributes to turtle conservation by collecting and relocating turtle eggs to a protected hatchery on the island. There, the eggs can safely incubate and hatch, before being released into the ocean.
Another fundamental part of TRACC’s work is to lead the way to a more ocean-aware economic development within its local communities. Many local people, such as the Bajau stateless tribe, live on or below Malaysia’s poverty line and completely depend on the ocean for subsistence. Through intense fishing these “sea gypsies” add pressure on an already strained ecosystem. TRACC has made it its responsibility to help increase these people’s quality of life and provide them with alternative sources of livelihood whilst simultaneously ensuring that their development is not hurting the environment.
Marine education and scientific research are, too, at the heart of TRACC’s activities. The centre offers data collection and marine biology workshops, diving trainings and an internationally recognized Marine Science intensive A-Level course.
TRACC welcomes volunteers from all around the world, united by their genuine love for the ocean and who, together, can help safeguard the beautiful life teeming beneath the surface.
Pom Pom Island
To rehabilitate the reefs and accelerate the naturally very slow coral growth, TRACC uses an innovative coral transplanting method called micro fragmenting, which consists in growing individual coral fragments in a nursery before replanting them in man-made reefs, where the young corals are much more likely to stay alive than on the devastated landslide the ocean floor has become. Over the past 6 years, TRACC’s staff have planted more than 100 000 coral fragments, which drastically improved the health of the reefs and the biodiversity of the marine life they host.
Do you love this cause? This is how you can help!
TRACC is always looking for motivated and hard-working friends of the ocean, who are willing to actively learn about coral reefs and “sea gardening”. Due to Malaysian regulations, TRACC cannot collect donations at this point in time. So to fund its amazing work, the organization relies solely on the passionate eco-tourists who come to stay on Pom Pom island for several weeks, to volunteer their time, meet like-minded people, and enjoy the experience of a lifetime! Be careful, because once you get there… you might never want to leave.