Marine conservation organization brings first-of-its-kind mobile marine education
nationwide tour to the northern region of Peninsular Malaysia

The ‘Whale Truck’ during the first leg of the Whales On-The-Wheels mobile marine education nationwide tour at LEGOLAND Malaysia, Nusajaya, Johor in February 2022 (All Photos: The MareCet Research Organization)

SELANGOR, 12 July 2022 – Following the success of the first leg of the Whales On-The-Wheels Nationwide Tour in February 2022, The MareCet Research Organization (MareCet) is ready to bring their Whale Truck on the road again to the northern region of Peninsular Malaysia, specifically the states of Perak, Penang, Kedah and Perlis.

Inspired from The Whale Bus programme hosted by The Marine Mammal Centre in Sausalito, California, USA, the Whales On-The-Wheels Nationwide Tour is a mobile marine education programme sponsored by Yayasan Sime Darby (YSD), and is intended to promote awareness about the ocean, Malaysia’s marine mammals, marine life and ecosystems, as well as marine conservation issues. Whales On-The-Wheels aims to make learning and knowledge transfer about marine mammals, the marine environment, and their conservation accessible to everyone in Malaysia. The tour benefits Malaysians and those living in Malaysia across a wide range of ages, targeting children to adults, community leaders, coastal dwellers and tourists.

The first leg of the tour in Negeri Sembilan, Melaka and Johor (Johor Bahru and west coast) saw the team travelling 760km across nine locations in 10 days, reaching out to over 700 visitors in 100 hours of exhibition. The majority of visitors were local families, with 70% of them being children between the ages of 5 and 15.

“More than half of our visitors were surprised to learn that there are marine mammals in the waters of Malaysia. Many of them were even more surprised to hear about how extensive the current marine pollution problem is in Malaysia, and how inextricably interconnected humans are to the ocean. We are glad that our Whales On-The-Wheels programme is helping Malaysians to be more in tune with the ocean and appreciate the marine environment.” said Dr Louisa Ponnampalam, the Executive Director of MareCet.

The ‘Whale Truck’ decked out with various educational materials and exhibits exploring different marine topics

The ‘Whale Truck’ featured at the travelling exhibition is a box truck decked out with various educational materials and exhibits exploring different marine topics. During the first leg of the nationwide tour, the crowd’s favourite was the “Marine Mammals Alive” exhibit, where visitors got to dive into the world of marine mammals in Malaysia at the curated photo and skeleton gallery, learn the importance of sound to dolphins and porpoises, and listen to the sounds produced by various species of marine mammals such as the Indo-Pacific humpback dolphin, dugong, humpback whale and even the Weddell seal that produces a sci-fi-like sound. Visitors also had the opportunity to engage with MareCet’s highly experienced dolphin researchers and gain insights into the research and conservation work that the organization does in the country. The tour featured an immersive ‘Be A Dolphin Researcher’ experience corner as well, where MareCet shared about how researchers identify dolphin individuals in Malaysia, and a ‘Mini Marine Laboratory’ showcasing preserved real-life marine specimens and small marine specimen samples under the microscope.

A MareCet team member showing a group of children the curated photo and skeleton gallery on the ‘Whale Truck’ during the first leg of the Whales On-The-Wheels tour in February 2022. Below the photos are the display of cetacean skulls (with permission from the Department of Fisheries Malaysia)

Visitors having a close look at real life preserved marine specimens at the Mini Marine Laboratory of the Whales On-The-Wheels tour in February 2022

Visitors also got to immerse themselves in other interactive and engaging educational activities at the tour, which included:
• Discovering the ugly truth about marine debris and microplastics in our ocean by playing the materials decomposition game and mini “trash-sure” hunt
• Trying their hands at “The Sea and Me” station
• Learning about the danger of ghost nets with MareCet’s very own Ghost Net Monster

The second leg of the tour to the northern region of Peninsular Malaysia will feature the same exhibits with a few exciting additions exploring the masters of disguise of the ocean and the various marine ecosystems.

“We are thrilled to be travelling to the northern region of Peninsular Malaysia as three out of four of these states are where MareCet’s project sites are located. Since 2016, we have been surveying the waters off Kedah and Perlis under our flagship Langkawi Dolphin Research Project to study the Indo-Pacific humpback dolphins, Irrawaddy dolphins and Indo-Pacific finless porpoises. We also have the Matang Dolphin Research Project that began in 2013, which focuses on the same three cetacean species in the coastal waters and environment of Matang, Perak. It is at this same project site where we conduct our Matang dolphin edu-tours to provide visitors the opportunity to experience what dolphin research is like.”

“We are also excited to be teaming up with Langur Project Penang, an outreach research project on the ecology, behaviour and road ecology of Dusky Langurs in Penang, and ADA Biotech, creator of the ADA edible rice straw, for our exhibition in Bukit Mertajam, Penang. We have high hopes for the second Whales On-The-Wheels tour, and we look forward to sharing about Malaysia’s marine biodiversity and conservation needs to the local communities in the northern region,” Dr Ponnampalam said.

Chief Executive Officer of YSD, Dr Hjh Yatela Zainal Abidin remarked, "For far too long, most Malaysians have been very disengaged from knowledge of the ocean. This educational travelling exhibition has given children, youth, and even adults the opportunity to learn and engage proactively towards defending our precious marine ecosystems and megafauna. Our collaboration with MareCet is critical as their work goes a long way in showcasing the numerous, colourful, and precious marine life living in our oceans and the delicate balance that binds them all together with us in our continuous initiatives for climate action."

The nationwide tour is travelling to all 11 states and 2 Federal Territories in Peninsular Malaysia throughout 2022 and 2023. The second leg of Whales On-The-Wheels will be happening from 26 July 2022 till 7 August 2022 and will see the Whale Truck travelling to 10 different cities and towns in Perak, Penang, Kedah and Perlis.

The full schedule of the second Whales On-The-Wheels tour will be announced on MareCet’s Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and TikTok accounts. Do look out for the ‘Whale Truck’ and catch them while they tour around Malaysia for an enriching experience about our country’s marine environment in an unconventional way!

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Last Updated:
08 Aug 2022
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