The day was an educational one for our visitors. Part of the group started with an 'Snorkel Against 'Debris'. They collected rubbish that was found on the reefs and floating along the surface of the water. It was incredible to see the effort that was put in by all that took part. The rest of the group began the day with some basic swimming lessons, it was amazing to see the enthusiasm they showed. Our environmental officer Cat was their teacher and her encouragement and support meant they all felt comfortable in no time!
After they are dried off it was time for the fish identification work shop. Dave started with a presentation outlining various fish species. When it comes to identifying fish it would be nearly impossible to learn each individual one. What is key is to learn what differentiates different fish families, then go from there. Other information included was the behaviours of different fish species, not only can this help ID them, but it also can create interest. From butterfly fish and angel fish, to octopus and anemone fish they can all exhibit fascinating behaviours.
For example, octopus are far more intelligent than many would give them credit for. One octopus that was being kept in a lab manage to sneak out of its tank and eat to eat the fish in other tanks! Staff of the lab were baffled about what was happening to their fish. It wasn't until a camera was left filming that they found the culprit!
Once you've learned to ID different fish species what's the best thing to do? Why, go for a snorkel and put your new skills to the test of course!
In the evening we had a presentation from our good friends at Green Semporna. Rina and Adzmin talked about who they are, what they do and why it needs to be done.
Who, why and what: Green Semporna
Green Semporna are a group of Malaysian volunteers who share a passion for change. They were inspired by the beauty of the marine environment. Some have previous experience from working with WWF, others come from different backgrounds. They all share one goal - to create a positive change in Semporna through community involvement and education. The aim to encourage a green lifestyle in the community.
Rina explained to us the need for such an organisation. They hope to raise awareness about fish bombing in the area. Many are not educated in the detrimental effect that fish bombing can have. Even those who are felt that there are not many other options left. They also have concerns about the flagships species that require protection. The problem in Semporna is that many of the locals have no idea of the problems that the underwater world is facing. For this reason, and many others, Green Semporna have education of locals at the centre of their ethos.
Green Semporna believe that the involvement of locals has a bigger impact. They have an understanding of what the local community are capable of and they show them they ways in which they can help. This year they have even created and illustrated their own book to give to primary schools to promote conservation.
Green Semporna started in 2012 and have ben growing momentum ever since. However, it is 2015 that they see as their year of luck! In the past 12 months they have garnered more support from local leaders, developed their own successful projects, generated support from the local schools. Sadly they do face challenges - finance for programmes such as this are always an issue.
With their growing support they hope to clean up Semporna and giving the next generation a chance to help. The work they have done and aim to do is inspiring. Tomorrow we will update you on the last day of Scuba Junkie's inaugural Marine Week. So stay posted, because there is a lot to tell you about!!