Gaya Island, Kota Kinabalu: Downbelow hosted a Project AWARE Marine Debris event last week near our PADI 5 Star IDC Dive Centre on Gaya island just off shore from Kota Kinabalu.

Project AWARE Gaya Island Shore line & Reef CleanupOver 30 volunteers, both divers and non-divers, from the local community joined us to help rid the environment of this plague that is marine debris, either discarded directly into the ocean, or washed into storm water pipes from somewhere on the mainland eventually ending up in the ocean.

The scourge of the planet, marine debris chokes reefs, kills marine animals, clogs waterways, soils the beauty of nature and generally poisons the environment.

But through these events, like our Project AWARE shoreline and reef cleanups, people around the world are standing together against the onslaught of ocean trash, by creating awareness of and taking action against the increasing problem.

During a Project AWARE event like this, divers, snorkelers and lovers of the environment become citizen scientists who remove and catalog debris from reefs and shore environments, statistics of which are used to inform leadership for appropriate action.

From our event last week we collected 329kg of trash, the bulk made up of plastic products – bags, bottles and even a chair – and notably 6 (!) car tyres.

Through various initiatives, Downbelow also raises funds for the Project AWARE Foundation, who is entirely donation funded.

Our beach & reef cleanup events are no different, and Downbelow’s Dive Shop in Kota Kinabalu often donates a Gecko dive computer,  used as the main prize in a raffle to raise funds.

On this occasion we raised RM680, all of which is donated to Project AWARE Foundation to further assist them in their conservation efforts.

Find out more about their invaluable work from the Project AWARE website, and get involved as a diver by enrolling in one of our conservation programs, such as the Coral Reef Speciality.

Pictures from our Gaya Island Beach & Reef Cleanup in Kota Kinabalu are online in a Facebook album.