Gaya Island, Kota Kinabalu: A group of 30 students from the University of Glamorgan in the UK wrapped up their marine research program here after spending a week on the island with Downbelow.

Island, hammock, mozzy net. You're sorted for a week on Gaya island.

Students, studying various bachelors and master degrees, came to Kota Kinabalu as part of a Tropical Ecology module.

Various bits of information were collected from around Gaya Island from carefully measured and marked patches of coral reef and sea grass.

“To maximize their research time”, said Joanne from Downbelow, “the students lived on the island for their entire stay.”

Downbelow’s PADI 5 Star IDC Dive & Adventure Centre on Gaya Island was temporarily expanded with an array of mosquito covered hammocks, which in turn was covered by a huge canopy.

Careful measurements of the TAR Park coral reefsThis provided comfortable accommodation for the students on the island itself.

To complete specific tasks and meet certain objectives for their research, each student had to dive twice a day.

Downbelow kept to their safety protocol of a 4:1 student-instructor ratio, which meant the Downbelow crew had to dive 4 times per day.

“During their dives the students learned various techniques for field research”, Joanne said.

The data the students collected about fish populations, diversity, coral health and other environmental factors will be used by next year’s University of Glamorgan expedition, to compare against the same areas.

The 30 students from the University of Glamorgan, UKBefore they left Gaya Island, the Glamorgan students left their mark – or rather removed the mark left by others.

Downbelow organised a Project AWARE shoreline clean-up for Dive for Earth Day, an annual, global initiative highlighting the problem of rubbish in the marine environment.

The students visited the mangrove swamps and secluded inlets around Gaya island and collected a whopping 847kg of rubbish.

Back in the UK this weekend the Glam Group will no doubt be talking about, and using the data from their research experience in Sabah for some time to come.

Downbelow looks forward to their return. Check out photos of the Glam Group’s Downbelow adventures on our Facebook page here and here.