Environment

Sustainability on board

Rereef Sunscreen

Rereef Sunscreen

For too long, humanity has neglected its environment and profited from its marvels with little consideration for their saving or renewal. Tourism is far from being an exception, especially when considering the fast increasing number of people travelling all over the world. Great efforts definitely have to be made by tourism professionals. But preserving our planet doesn’t have to consist in abandoning any idea of comfort and pleasure though. That’s why Burma Boating has dedicated themselves to developing and offering luxurious AND sustainable cruises, guaranteeing a high end level of care, safety and comfort to both their customers and their good old partners, the Indian Ocean and the Mergui Islands.

Wind and sun

By its very nature, Burma Boating is devoted to the ancestral man’s bond to the ocean. All our cruises are operated, by choice, via sailing boats, relying on the wind only to travel among the heavenly but fragile ecosystems of the Mergui Islands. The use of diesel engines is reduced to a minimum, to safely maneuver the vessels in the harbours, unlike most ocean liners which consume petrol and dump waste in the sea by the ton to say the least. Our next ally is the sun. This clean and endless source of energy is exploited via multiple solar panels on most of our boats for a large part of power needs during the cruise, and it’s not the type to hide much in this area : no risk of shortage! Our recently added Silent 55 Solar Yacht is definitely the spearhead of our fleet regarding energy and solar issues, we encourage you to have a closer look at this unbelievable yacht here

No plastic waste

Everyone has in mind these terrible pictures of giant plastic trash islands floating on the ocean, wild animals tortured by plastic straws, bags or packagings… To make things change, let’s make our own habits change first. That’s why Burma Boating signed up for the Refill, Not Landfill program which aims at developing and financing solutions to limit plastic use under all kinds of circumstances. Aboard our ships, that means no plastic bottles at all - our customers are provided with refillable bottles they can use with perfectly clean filtered water produced directly on the boat. It is a seawater recycling system called reverse osmosis with 3 different filters that has proved itself reliable over the years. Plastic straws are banned as well and replaced by natural straws, and all the food and products that can possibly be purchased from local producers without plastic packaging are welcome aboard.

The devil is in the details

Every small thing is important to lower the impact of a cruise on its environment. Did you know that sunscreen can be deadly to corals for example? Our customers will be offered natural mineral-based sunscreen that is absolutely harmless to wildlife [rereef.co]. Biodegradable soap, shampoo and household cleaning products were carefully selected to equip all our cabins and ships. Organic and fresh local food is largely privileged over processed and industrial products. Finally, a highly strict waste management will result in absolutely zero non-organic matter or object being thrown out at sea during the whole cruise.

Lampi Island Marine National Park

There is one marine national park in Myanmar and it’s right in the centre of our sailing area

With over 200 sq km in size, Lampi is the largest island in the southern part of the Mergui Archipelago. It rises almost 500 meters above sea level and is home to more than a thousand species of animals, plants and marine life, many of which are rare and protected. 

Lampi Marine National Park General Management Plan by Istituto Oikos

Lampi Marine National Park General Management Plan by Istituto Oikos

Because of its important biodiversity, the national park was declared an ASEAN Heritage Park. Lampi Island is covered by tropical lowland wet evergreen forest in the interior, mangrove forest along rivers and fresh-water sources, and beach and dune forest along the coast. Other major habitat types are coral reefs, seagrass, freshwater streams and swamps. The main island of Lampi has two major perennial rivers and many small seasonal streams. Fresh-water resources are abundant. The variety of habitats supports a high diversity of both terrestrial and marine resources. 

The nature conservation society Oikos has published a study on Myanmar’s national parks, which contains an in-depth survey of Lampi Island Marine National Park and its ecology with detailed lists of its wildlife and overviews of threatened animals in the park. This survey is the most valuable resource available on the Mergui Archipelago’s ecology. 

Oikos is the the major conservation organisation involved with the Mergui Archipelago and, together with Myanmar’s Ministry of Environmental Conservation and Forestry, has long been working on a plan to implement regulations to protect the region and to manage the national park. 

At Burma Boating, we are proud to be partners of Oikos in their effort to find the best solutions to protect the Mergui Archipelago and its unique national park.

Have a look at the new website of Lampi Island Marine National Park! And if you are interested in visiting the national park and the Mergui Archipelago, just let us know.

10 Unique Animals in Myanmar’s Mergui Archipelago

Watching wildlife is one of the great joys of cruising through the Mergui Archipelago. Myanmar is the most biologically diverse country in mainland Southeast Asia and our sailing area is home to countless wonderful animals, many of which are endangered.

Below are some of the most rare and unique mammal and bird species you can discover in the region.

Top 5 Most Unique Mammals in the Mergui Archipelago

1. The Dusky Langur

This little langur is also called Spectacled Leaf Monkey because of the white rings around his eyes. He lives in the archipelago’s dense forests and in groups of up to 20 animals, with mostly one dominant male and his harem and offspring.

As Leaf Monkeys are very territorial, you can sometimes hear their loud shouting when they defend their territory from other langurs or predators. They spend the largest part of the day in the canopy, where they crawl along the branches on all fours, although they can also jump well from tree to tree. They are diurnal and most active in the early mornings and the afternoon.
Conservation status: near threatened

2. The Dugong

This peaceful creature belongs to a very small family of marine mammals, which amazingly is most closely related to elephants. Dugongs stay near the coast where they like to graze the seaweed beds of wide and shallow protected bays, mangrove channels and the leeward side of islands. 

An adult usually grows to an imposing 3-4 metres and weighs around half a ton or more. By the way, the name dugong originally derives from the Malay term "duyung", which means "lady of the sea". 
Conservation status: vulnerable

3. The Sunda Pangolin

The Sunda Pangolin, also known as the Scaly Anteater, feeds only on ants and termites which it detects with its incredible sense of smell and eats with its long, sticky tongue.

This unique animal is very rare now but if you see a big hole dug into the forest ground on one of the islands, chances are it was a pangolin: it has powerful claws with which it digs into the soil hunting for ant nests or to tear into termite mounds. Pangolins eat around 200,000 ants or termites every day!

The pangolin's body is covered with thick scales. But as his belly is unprotected and soft, he rolls into a ball when he feels threatened.

Despite all the ground-digging, pangolins are great climbers and spend most of their days on trees or, more accurately, resting in tree holes.
Conservation status: critically endangered

4. The Oriental Small-clawed Otter

Of all otter species, this is the smallest and most unusual. Oriental Small-clawed Otters live in mangrove swamps but unlike other otters, this one spends most of his time on land. Fortunately, they can still be seen frequently in the Mergui Archipelago.

These charming animals are very playful and live in small families of one monogamous couple and their young ones, whereby the older offspring help rear the youngest. Also unlike other otters, their paws are almost not webbed, which gives them a high degree of manual dexterity, which again makes them the only otters that catch their prey with their paws instead of with their mouth. 
Conservation status: vulnerable

5. The Lesser Mouse-deer

This is the only mammal that is endemic to the Mergui Archipelago: Tragulus kanchil lampensis (named after Lampi Island) is the world's smallest hoofed animal, with a mature size and weight of only 45 cm and 2 kg. Mouse-deer lack horns but have elongated canine teeth that project out on either side of the lower jaw of males and are used in fights. Their legs are short and thin, which helps when running through the dense foliage of the island forest.

Fortunately, the Lesser Mouse-deer is still abundant on Lampi Island but together with wild boar, civet cats and large lizards it is the most hunted animal on the islands of the Mergui Archipelago.

Odd fact: some scientists believe that mouse-deer were the ancestors of whales and dolphins. The reason is that mouse-deer have been around since the Oligocene 34 million years ago (and haven't evolved much since) and some mouse-deer species dive into the water when threatened, where they stay under the surface for up to 4 minutes.
Conservation status: least concern

Top 5 Most Unique Birds in the Mergui Archipelago

1. The Plain-pouched Hornbill

A threatened species, the plain-pouched hornbill (Rhyticeros subruficollis) luckily still thrives in Myanmar's Mergui Archipelago. We can see them there frequently flying about in beautiful, large flocks.

It is only found in forests in and along the Tenasserim Hills snaking down the Malay Peninsula and it used to be the most common hornbill in the Mergui Archipelago. 
Conservation status: vulnerable

2. Wallace's Hawk-eagle

There are bigger and more majestic eagle species in the Mergui Archipelago: the White-bellied Sea Eagle, the Grey-headed Fish Eagle or the Crested Serpent-eagle. But this one is our favourite. Wallace's Hawk-eagle is one of the smallest eagles in the world. At about 46 cm long it is just the size of a falcon. But it is a rare feat to see this elegant and beautiful bird. 
Conservation status: vulnerable

3. The Crested Partridge

We love the Crested Partridge (Rollulus rouloul) for its stunning plumage. This fellow here is a male but the female has equally beautiful, olive-green plumage, with chestnut-brown scapulars and wings. Her head is slate-grey. 

Their nest is scraped ground and hidden under a pile of leaf litter. The crested partridge is usually seen singly or in pairs as it uses its feet to probe the forest floor for fruit, seeds and invertebrates. When disturbed, it prefers to run but if necessary it can fly short distances on its rounded wings.
Conservation status: near threatened

4. The Red-throated Sunbird

Sunbirds are the hummingbirds of the Old World: brightly-coloured flying gems living on nectar and pollen. There are 132 sunbird species in total but the Red-throated Sunbird is probably the rarest of them all. We are very happy that the Mergui Archipelago is still home to these special birds.

If your are very lucky you may see one foraging in the canopy. The nest is made of matted plant fibres and is suspended 9-20 m above the ground on a cord from a tree at the edge of a clearing. Only one egg is laid each year. Other than that one knows next to nothing about this beautiful bird.
Conservation status: near threatened

5. The Brown-winged Kingfisher

The Brown-winged Kingfisher’s plumage has the most striking colour combination (somewhat reminiscent of the 70s). With 35 cm length he is pretty large. His habitat is coastal, where he prefers mangroves, tidal forest, mudflats, estuaries and brackish creeks. 

Prey are partly fish and mainly crabs, which he hunts from mangrove branches or roots by flying down low to land on the mud and rapidly seize the prey. He can be found all around the Bay of Bengal but is now considered near threatened.
Conservation status: near threatened

For the most recent survey on animals and the ecological diversity of the Mergui Archipelago, have a look at this study by Istituto Oikos

Have a look at our Pinterest page to discover Myanmar's wildlife with us.
 

Good News: Myanmar Plans to Establish a Marine Protected Area in the Mergui Archipelago

Yellowtail barracuda in the Mergui Archipelago

The Mergui Archipelago in Myanmar's far south is already home to one of Myanmar's national parks: on and around Lampi Island. So far, however, the implementation of environmental protection in the area has not received a lot of attention, to put it mildly. 

That's why we were excited to hear that key stakeholders decided to establish a Marine Protected Area (MPA) in the Mergui Archipelago at a workshop in Myeik. Over two days the workshop discussed the biodiversity values of the archipelago for Myanmar and the Andaman Sea, new research data from ongoing scientific assessments, key sites for marine conservation, and threats facing the ecosystems and fishing industry and how MPAs, as a management tool can offer a way for sustaining fisheries resources.

The workshop was co-hosted by the Union Deputy Minister of Ministry of Livestock, Fisheries and Rural Development, Minister of the Ministry of Forest and Mining (Tanintharyi Region) and conservation NGOs Fauna & Flora International and the International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN).

Situated in the north-eastern Andaman Sea the Myeik archipelago comprises over 800 islands of white sandy beaches and coral reefs teeming with a diverse array of marine life. Over the past two years scientific surveys have been conducted by Fauna & Flora International in collaboration with the Myanmar authorities. 

This included Myanmar’s first scuba dive marine research team, trained in underwater survey techniques and accompanied by international researchers. The teams identified 287 species of coral and 365 reef fish species as well as reefs rich in echinoderms, crustaceans, molluscs and sponges.

These corals reefs, along with sea grass areas and mangrove forests, which provide a crucial nursery habitat for many of the species of marine life which the fishing industry depends, are however under serious threat. Such threats include overfishing, destructive fishing methods, sediment run off and global warming. 

However, the researchers noted that “a few key sites were found to have rich and intact coral communities with coral cover up to 92%, a figure which even amazed international experts, while some other reefs still have the potential to recover if well managed”.

Such management interventions include MPAs as well as Locally Managed Marine Areas (LMMAs) a type of MPA system in which local communities manage their own nearby coral reef, much like community forests have been developed in Myanmar. 

According to Fauna and Flora International, the bringing together of policy makers, managers, commercial operators and conservationists at the workshop enabled participants to agree on important next steps to achieve these goals:

•    Mapping resource uses across Mergui archipelago; fisheries, energy exploration, future tourism etc;
•    Engage private sector in dialogues about the sustainability of commercial fisheries;
•    Piloting and establishing MPAs and LMMAs in key sites, with the workshop recommending La Ngann Island Group as the first site to be established;
•    Building trans-boundary relationships with Thailand and other Andaman sea countries; and
•    Identify technological solutions for collecting and analyzing large data sets to understand and improve commercial fisheries.

Frank Momberg, FFI Myanmar Program Director says: “Myanmar’s fisheries resources have declined dramatically over the last decade. However, establishing a marine protected area network in Myanmar will protect important nursery grounds for fish such as coral reef and mangrove areas, critical to maintaining the livelihood of coastal fishing communities and the fishing industry”.

Good on Fauna & Flora International for organising the workshop and achieving these important results. Now let's hope that the plans will get implemented!