In the wee hours of 4am on the morning of 11 July, 21 excited divers jostled their way in KLIA2 airport to catch our flight to Tawau while 1 diver made her way there from Jakarta. At the start of our trip, all 22 divers were just excited at the prospect of being able to go dive in Sipadan, one of the world top 10 dive destination on top of every divers’ checklist. For more than half the group, this is their 1st trip to Sipadan. Also on the trip are 2 Shark Ambassadors, Wayne Thong and Wind Lee.
Upon arrival at Borneo Divers Mabul Resort, we had a quick lunch and went for a check-out dive at Borneo Diver’s house reef. Not much activity for the rest of the day as the group was tired from the long hours of travel. The group was split into 2 for rotation to dive in Sipadan. A quick briefing of activities lined up for the rest of the trip and we called it a night as the 1st group going to Sipadan will have an early start the next day.
Day 2 for group 2 saw us diving in Kapalai and Mabul island before lunch. After lunch, group 2 brought out dive/gardening gloves for underwater clean-up. Borneo Divers resort provided support in waste disposal and also additional DMs from the dive centre joined us for the clean-up. After sorting and tabulation of trash collected, a friendly challenge was put if the other group can top the 11 bags of trash group 2 collected.
After dinner, all participants, Borneo Divers dive centre crew and also a few of the resort guests joined us for a 90 mins Shark Ecology workshop. We always welcome anyone who wants to know more about sharks. See photos from the workshop here. All participants had fun learning about our fragile marine ecosystem and the role shark plays in that ecosystem through trivia and games.
On Day 3, it was group 2 that had the early morning trip to Sipadan while group 1 now have the chance to dive in Kapalai and Mabul islands. After lunch, group 1 went for underwater clean-up at the same site called Panglima Reef and came back with a massive haul of 17 bags of trash. All data from both rounds of underwater clean up were collected and submitted to Ocean Conservancy’s International Coastal Clean Up program. You can also organize your own clean up on any coastal area and submit the data using their mobile app Clean Swell. Tabulation of trash collected will help scientists in their research and proposal to governments on ways to improve waste management.
Shark Ambassadors Wayne Thong and Wind Lee conducted an FB Live broadcast that night to share with a wider audience of what they have learned during the trip about sharks in Sabah. Their broadcast attracted over 4,100 views with 447 comments. You can catch their broadcast here (conducted in Mandarin). Throughout the broadcast both Wayne and Wind took turns asking trivia questions and 10 lucky winners received Wayne and Wind autographed postcards posted from Semporna.
On our final diving day, both groups dived together and enjoyed interesting dive sites in Mabul island which presented us with both macro critters and more close up turtle encounters. Divers spent the rest of the afternoon washing dive gear and we got ready to share the love for sharks with local Mabul island kids from School of Hope. Cikgu Ali is the only teacher in this school that takes in children who are unable to register into regular school. The school operates only for 2 hours daily from 8pm - 10pm when it’s not so hot. We taught the children a bit about shark anatomy through a clay modelling workshop. A few of our divers who were more fluent in bahasa volunteered their time and assistance to help the kids with their clay models. All children and Cikgu Ali were presented with SSI t-shirts as a token for spending their afternoon with us learning about sharks.
After our dinner of yet another delicious spread by Borneo Divers, we shared information of the consolidated total of trash collected for the underwater clean up which came up to over 60kg of trash. No surprise on which type of trash showed up most, plastic. 997 pieces of food wrapping and 67 plastic bottles. A surprise finding for the divers was the amount of diapers, 71 as Panglima Reef is located near the village of Mabul. As a token of appreciation to all our divers for spending a dive for underwater clean-up, each were presented with sponsored items from A & L Adventure and Leisure Sdn Bhd.
As we approach the end of our trip, many divers got to know more about the current state of sharks in Malaysia as well as the pollution in our oceans. While tired from the dives and activities, most of the participants found this inaugural diving with purpose trip organized jointly by Shark Savers Malaysia and Trinity Dive a fun and meaningful way to dive.
We would like to thank both Shark Ambassadors, Wayne Thong and Wind Lee for lending their voice to the shark cause, Borneo Divers Mabul Resort for their kind sponsorship, logistics support in all our activities and proper waste disposal of the trash collected from the clean-up and finally to all the participants for their enthusiasm in every dive and participation in the activities.