Once again we had the Kommunity Kollege and Green Semporna involved in our days' activities. To celebrate we had an island wide clean up! The previous night many of the participants visited other dive centres and resorts on the island and encouraged everyone to take part. The two villages on the island were asked to participate, and told that if they cleaned the area around their house the rubbish would be removed. In addition to this, three main areas were targeted in the clean by staff and customers. It was inspiring to see everyone work hard together. The involvement from the local community is really what made the day a success. Many of the children who had joined us on the first day of the week, who were given presentations on environmental topics, were eager to take part - exactly the sort of attitude we love to see!
The afternoon was an emotional one, as it was time to say goodbye to our, fondly named, 'Myrtle' the turtle. The Sabah Wildlife Department - to whom we are incredible grateful for all their support - came to the island to assist in her release. Brought to us just over 102 days ago she had a intestinal infection that meant she was unable to dive down from the surface of the water. The infection had caused a build up of gas; had she been left she would almost certainly have starved to death. Fortunately she was brought to the Mabul Rehab Centre at Scuba Junkie. The Sabah Wildlife Department provided us with antibiotics and a treatment plan. They then trained our staff in implementing this plan, which consisted of feeding, weighing and administering the antibioitics.
After a worrying few weeks during which Myrtle was not taking any food, she slowly began her road to recovery. It took time and considerable effort, but eventually she was able to dive beneath the surface once again. Whilst we kept her in the rehab centre for observation for just over a month, we are extremely fortunate that our first patient was a resounding success! Often turtles in this condition are sick because of a build up of consumed plastic - this is much harder to recover from. Although we do not wish sickness upon our reptilian friends, we are so happy that we are able to help and hope that the rehab centre continues to be a success.
Overall the week was great fun and, we think, a huge success. In conservation local community involvement and education is critical. If we don't take steps to inform children in the area of the threats their community faces and the consequences of sucking the resources dry then change will never truly happen.
Scuba Junkie would like to extend a big thank you to everyone who was involved in the week. Without the help of organisations such a Green Semporna and those at the Kommunity Kollege the week would not have created the impact that it did! We look forward to more community outreach programmes throughout 2016!