Resident PADI Course Director Richard Swann introducing Finn, the Project AWARE Hammerhead shark mascot who arrived in time to grace our Finathon

The water around Downbelow’s dive centre was churning yesterday with the finning of 24 participants swimming to end finning during our Project AWARE Finathon.

Yesterday we hosted what was Asia and Kota Kinabalu’s first Finathon.

A finathon, as opposed to a marathon, is a 1km swim, organised to help raise awareness of the unsustainable practice that is shark finning.

Participants in the Finathon also helped raise funds, 100% of which will be donated to the Project AWARE Foundation, to aid their efforts in fighting for global legislation to help stop the mass killing of sharks.

Downbelow’s Marketing Director, Joanne Swann, also took part in yesterday’s Finathon. “We were amazed by all the support,” she said, “and can’t thank everyone who contributed enough, especially the funds they raised.”

We raised a whopping RM14,709 (US$4,800) in support of the fight against shark finning, which is well over our initial RM10k target and just shy of the RM15k stretch target.

“The variety of supporters was astonishing,” said Downbelow’s Managing Director and resident PADI Course Director Richard Swann, “which goes to show that people from all walks of life, regardless of age, care about the preservation of sharks.”

Some of the Finathon participants having fun with Finn

About the Finathon he said “this was a healthy and fun way to raise awareness for an important cause.”

In fact, so enthused were the participants, that funding have already been pledged for the next Finathon.

The Finathon’s 1km route started from the Sabah Parks jetty in front of Downbelow’s Dive Centre, stretch into the open ocean up to Turtle Reef 500m away, and back again. Participation was either on an individual basis, which required swimming the entire distance alone, or as a team. Each member of the team then swam a set distance as part of the whole.

Of course, Downbelow’s PADI 5 Star IDC Dive Centre staff was on hand to ensure participant safety at all times.

Bobbing about in the water along the route, were 3 boats, 3 kayaks and 6 Dive Instructors in life-rings keeping an eye out and ensuring a fun time for all.

The Finathon wrapped up with a scrumptious lunch during which certificates and prizes where handed out. Richard also underlined the Finathon’s importance, with a reminder that we did it all for to give sharks a fighting chance.

Companies who showed that they care about sharks, and donated generously to the Finathon, includes Kinabalu International School, Shangri La’s Rasa Ria Resort, Pulau Sipadan Resort, Sipadan Mabul Resort, Sepilok Jungle Resort, A&L Leisure, Sabah Parks and members of Downbelow’s KK Dive Club.

Heaps of encouragement and support were also received from Datuk Masidi Manjun and Sabah’s Ministry of Tourism, the family and friends of all who attended, Downbelow’s IDC and IDCS interns and Downbelow’s office and island staff team.

All in all, Downbelow’s first even Project AWARE Finathon in Kota Kinabalu was a resounding success and we look forward to even more participants next time.