Downbelow Marine & Wildlife are passionate in conservation awareness projects that encompass education, conservation and ecotourism. We believe in travelling responsibly, conserving the environment and improving the daily lives of the community.
Our commitment to conservation and environmental health is the mission of our diving and travel business operations.
Our own environmentally responsible policies meant we were the first organisation in Malaysia to be awarded the Green Star Award for responsible practices. We use only filtered water and not bottled water to reduce the usage of plastic. We have a “no styrofoam” and “no plastic” bag policy, we are as paperless as possible, we conserve water and electricity and we do so much more on a daily basis.
In addition we have a number of programs for our clients to get involved in which are rewarding and benefit the local and global community. There are many conservation issues happening on our planet all at once, but we are concentrating on marine conservation where we are uniquely positioned to directly and positively affect real, long-term change and education.
Conservation Awareness Projects
Marine Debris – Beach & Underwater Clean Ups
Beach clean ups are a routine job for our island teams. It is commonly known that ocean trash is an increasing problem world-wide and if, like us you are blessed to be based on a beach, you will see the plastic tide daily. More than eight million tonnes of plastic is thrown away each year and washed out to sea.
It takes centuries to break down. It’s eaten by marine creatures and it’s in our food chain. Scientists can’t say how dangerous plastic to human health, but it’s clear the effect on wildlife is devastating. Fish, whales, dolphins – hundreds of species have eaten plastic.
Some seabirds and turtles have been found to have so much plastic in their stomach they can no longer eat the food they need to survive. This affects their ability to migrate, mate and raise their young. Inevitable, they eventually die.
Discarded fishing gear is also killing marine wildlife, with one report estimating that 308,000 whales and dolphins die every year because they get tangled and drown.
Be an ocean hero – swap out single use plastic from your life.
Conservation projects, such as our beach and underwater clean-up events, aid to raise awareness in Kota Kinabalu about the health of the natural environment in our local area. We show people the results and effects of excess rubbish in our oceans and explain how everyone can make a difference.
For groups exploring Sabah on our Expedition Borneo program, an educational session at our PADI 5 Star IDC Dive Centre is conducted for a unique learning experience. One of our experienced PADI Instructors delivers a presentation of the PADI AWARE Coral Reef Conservation, followed by a beach clean-up organised by our island staff team for participants to appreciate the value of contributing to ocean conservation.
Ghost Fishing Net Removals
Illegal fishing nets, colloquially termed ‘ghost nets’ because it continually fishes even after discarded, are a threat we face in the Tunku Abdul Rahman Marine Park where we are based.
As soon as a net is reported within the marine park, a team of our PADI professionals is assembled to remove it from the reef to stop further damage to the delicate coral reef. Our team work together with Sabah Parks – the local government authority whose role is to protect and manage this park.
To date we have conducted more than 150 net removal dives. Net removals require specialised training. A net can be 100m long and 30m wide and we must ensure that our team remain safe and avoid getting tangled themselves. Our Managing Director & Platinum PADI Course Director Richard Swann has trained many divers to safely remove nets and save any marine life that is entangled and still alive.
All net removals are fully sponsored with staff and logistics by our company and we are very proud of the work we can do to help the environment in the region.
Coral for Life
Coral for Life is one of our popular conservation awareness projects created by us to inspire the younger generation of our local area to understand the benefits of preserving coral. Knowledge is needed to address these environmental issues, and the program provides unique education for participants to witness the natural beauty that can be found in Sabah and how to preserve it.
During the program, participants learn about the role coral plays within the environment through a powerpoint presentation. Participants are then taken into the ocean to see coral in their natural environment while snorkelling or scuba diving. There is the option to elaborate and show differences between healthy coral & damaged coral in its natural environment and collect broken coral for re-planting – giving back life ! Participants learn how to re-plant broken coral that would otherwise perish. The treated corals are then placed in their new homes by our Downbelow team on our artificial house reef located in the bay just in front of the dive centre.
So the message is clear – let’s help coral live in the oceans as we shout “Coral for Life”!
Schools and Universities
For many years, local and international schools and universities participate in programs that we design to cater to their educational needs.
The University of South Wales, University of Cardiff, Kinabalu International School and University Teknologi MARA (UiTM) and Polytechnic Sandakan are amongst a few of the educational institutes to experience the practical contribution to conservation at our PADI 5 Star IDC Dive Centre facilities and within our Downbelow Expeditions.
Our programs can be suited to specific needs, from University students fulfilling scientific degree requirements in field study, to participating in educational clean-up events, volunteering at the Sun Bear Conservation Centre and Sepilok Orangutan Conservation Centre, tree planting at the Kinabatangan River and Danum Valley.