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Beach Profile Status of Islands in the Semporna Priority Conservation Area Technical Report 2021

Semporna is a pristine coastal district located on the East Coast of Sabah, it is also part of the Coral Triangle - the global center of marine biodiversity. Among the region's 390 million residents, one third of them sustain their well-being and livelihood directly on local marine resources.

Strong evidence around the globe has shown the many adverse impacts of climate change, including increased air and water temperature and sea level rise (Meehl et al., 2005). The melting of ice caps at the poles is significantly raising the sea level. These impacts, in turn, cause disruptions and changes to the current ecology, biology and socioeconomic structure, especially to coastal communities. Sea level rise and beach erosion directly affect the refuge and survival of these coastal communities.  There will be a significant number of residents and coastal communities that may be displaced within 30 years.

 A beach profiling study was conducted to understand the changes in beach morphology.  Comparing the data obtained from Mabul Island in the 2012 study, this study showed a drop of elevation by 1m for Mabul Island at the starting point of each site.  There is a possibility that floods from king tides, bad weather and sea level rise can cause the movement of sand to reduce the slope and elevation of Mabul Island.  These changes may negatively impact the turtle nesting beaches and the community that heavily depended on the land space of the island. 

Adaptive measures such as mangrove replantation may help to increase resilience towards beach erosions (Jolis & Salleh, 2015). Other than that, Local Early Action Plan was conducted on Mabul Island to prepare and educate the local Bajau community on the impacts of climate change that they are facing, especially the recession of shoreline and beach erosion that is causing loss of ancestral land for some of the families.

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