Sunday, 13 December 2015

Marine Week: The Grand Finale!!

The final day of Scuba Junkie Marine Week was a huge success. This has been one of our most productive awareness weeks yet, with a huge amount of community involvement it feels like things are starting to change. 

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!  

Saturday, 12 December 2015

Marine Week: Day 6

The penultimate day of Marine Week was action packed. The Kommunity College from Semporna visited Mabul and we also had Green Semporna over for the day. 

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!! 

Friday, 11 December 2015

Marine Week: Day 4 & 5

We are now half way through our Scuba Junkie Marine Week! It has been an amazing success thus far, and we would like to extend our gratitude to all of the customers who have joined us in celebrating this amazing event.

On day 4 one of our environmental officers David McCaan joined Steven Moore and Samantha Sherman from the Global Fin Print. 

Who Are Global Fin Print?

This initiative was established in order to garner more information about diminishing numbers of sharks and rays worldwide..Over the next three years they plan to collect data on sharks and rays across the globe. Their aim is to produce the 'first globally standard survey of shark and ray diversity and abundance with key focus on coral reef ecosystems'. They will use this data to predict what is effecting the diversity of the elasmobranch population. Over a quarter of sharks and rays are facing extinction and this will be the first baseline data for us to see the trend of their decline. The information they collect will be open to all scientists, managers and the general public which maximises its educational reach. It is a huge task that they are undertaking, but the information gathered will be hugely important. 

To get this information they have been using baited remote underwater video (BRUV). These cameras are deployed in specific areas and have collected some interesting footage. These videos allow the team to analyse the shark and ray population and identify affecting factors - such as coral coverage, fish population, fishing pressures and and water temperature. Once this information is brought together and condensed it will be possible to see where the focus needs to be in creating protected areas, and which species to be focused on.

Steve and Sam joined Scuba Junkie in KK, Semporna and Mabul to gather their research. They have been great fun to have around. They gave an excellent presentation on the fifth day of Marine Week, informing people on who they are and what they have been doing. We hope that they collected the information that they need and we hope to work more with them in the future. 

Two night ago we had a Pub Quiz! Dave was our quiz master for the evening and entertained with 5 rounds of questions. We had a great turn our and raised over 200RM for Green Semporna.  

During the day our trained staff took part in our coral transplant programme. The coral transplant programme involves taking fragments of live coral and bringing them to our coral nursery. We hope to create an area where the coral can regrow and flourish. 

Just two days left of what has, so far, been a hugely successful week. Stay posted for more information on corals and the activities we have been getting everyone involved in! 

Wednesday, 9 December 2015

Marine Week: Day 3

On our third day of Scuba Junkie Marine Week we continued our efforts on our reef check surveys. In the evening Julian, of Reef Check Malaysia, gave a presentation on who Reef Check Malaysia are,  what it is they do and the changes that need to be made in this area. 

Sadly we are facing our third world wide coral bleaching event. Coral bleaching and disease are caused by climate change. Corals can only survive in water temperatures of 18-29 degrees celsius. Anything outside of this and the coral cannot survive.

What is coral?
All this talk about coral and the threats it face, it's time to talk about what coral is.  Dave and Cat our environmental officers at Scuba Junkie, have produced a collection of incredibly informative posters that are easy to understand. All the information provided here was taken from their posters.

It is a common misconception that corals are plants - given their often bush like appearance. However, they are actually animals! They are tiny little invertebrates called 'polyps'. These polyps cannot survive on their own so they have a symbiotic relationship with zooxanthellae. Zooxanthellae is actually a photosynthetic algae: the mutualistic relationship it has developed with the corals means that they both can thrive.  This tiny algae lives inside the coral tissue and provides it with energy through photosynthesis. Whilst living inside the coral the zooxanthellae is provided with shelter - the perfect symbiotic relationship! The zooxanthellae also gives corals their stunning colours, as the body of the polyps is actually clear.

Coral bleaching affects corals because it destroys the relationship between the polyps and the zooxanthellae. When temperatures rise the zooxanthellae abandon the polyps. As mentioned it is the algae that gives the corals their stunning colour - thus without it the corals appear 'bleached'. Without the energy from the photosynthesis the polyp struggles to survive.  If temperature returns to normal within a short period of time than the coral can recover as the zooxanthellae will return. If not, the corals die.

Thousands upon thousands of polyps comes together to form the stunning coral structures you see in the water. These are known as 'colonies'. There are two types of coral colonies - hard and soft. We'll be providing you with more information on this as the week goes on!

Who are Reef Check Malaysia?
Whilst Reef Check was originally set up in America in 1996, it is now in 82 countries! It was set up to raise awareness of the importance of and the threats that face coral reefs. The aim of Reef Check Malaysia is focused on managing reefs sustainably. Through education and raising awareness they hope to stimulate local action to aid the rehabilitation and protection of coral reefs.

After undertaking a reef check survey around Mabul,  Julian felt there was much that needed to be explained. Sadly whilst doing the survey the team witnessed purse sein fishing close to Pulau Mabul What Julian highlighted was that though we may personally disagree with these practises,  there are people who are just trying to survive.  

At the end of the day we may wish for fishing to decrease,  but people need to feed their families.  Furthermore Julian noted that some laws may seem unclear, whether or not they could fish so close to Pulau Mabul was actually not known by many involved in the reef check survey.  The information he provided and the passion with which he spoke about the situation was a real eye opener. Many have idealistic opinions on change,  whereas Julian was realistic in his talk.  

We'll be keeping you posted on all our activities and providing you with more information on corals as the week goes on.  

Facts about Mushroom Coral (Fungia Seychellensis):

  • Generally a solitary species, they grow to about 30cm 
  • Juveniles attach to a rock, but older ones are free living 
  • The discs are round or oval and have a central mouth
  • They are listed as 'vulnerable' on the IUCN Red List 

Tuesday, 8 December 2015

Marine Week: Day 2

The second day of this years Marine Week had us analysing the health of the reefs in the area.

Many of our staff are Reef Check certified and so were able to conduct the surveys around Pulau Mabul. A reef check survey uses indicator species and analysis of substrates to determine the health of the reef.  By periodically  undertaking these surveys we are able to determine whether the coral reefs are declining or improving.

Sadly coral reefs are declining across the globe, with increasing numbers of coral being added to the IUCN red list. This comprehensive list ranks whether a species is facing extinction, whether it is vulnerable or even if we don't have enough data to specify what their population numbers are. Many species of coral are listed as 'vulnerable' - meaning that they are vulnerable to extinction and something needs to be done.

We heard more about this in a presentation from Dave, one of our onsite Environmental Officers. His extremely informative presentation outlines the threats that face our corals both globally and locally. He is explained that there are natural threats and those that we have created. 

Natural threats include storm damage, exposure from changing tides, predators, coral disease and coral warfare. Natural threats have always existed, however, as Dave explained last night their impacts our worsening. With increasing climate change there are more storms that are far more aggressive causing greater damage than before. Furthermore, the natural predators of those that feed on the reef are being taken out of the ocean. Take, for example, the crown of thorns sea star. This sea star exists naturally in the underwater world and feeds on corals - all part of a healthy eco system. Unfortunately, one of their natural predators facing threats. The Titan Snail has a stunning shell that is in high demand. As more of these are pulled out of the water, the crown of thorns population is not controlled. This can in turn lead to hugely negative effect on the health of the coral reef. 

Human threats are ever increasing and include: pollution, destructive fishing methods, o-zone layer damage, coastal development and irresponsible tourism. These effect the corals globally, but there are actions we can take locally to try and manage these problems. Irresponsible tourism is something that Scuba Junkie takes very seriously. We have a code of conduct for interacting with marine life - a strict no touching policy. We encourage and teach good buoyancy skills to all divers to ensure that they do not harm the coral reefs whilst diving and reinforce the phrase 'take only photos and leave nothing but bubbles'. Shells may make an nice souvenir or ornament to decorate a room but taking these has a detrimental effect on the marine eco system. Although we support the local community, we do ask guests to think twice before purchasing anything that has been taking from the ocean - for shells and shark teeth to be sold in a shop a marine animal has died. 

To  conclude the presentation Dave gave information on what it is you guys can do to help:

What can you do? 

  • Follow responsible dive and snorkel practices - don't touch anything in the water and don't walk on corals. Remember - 'Take only photos, leave only bubbles'
  • Get involved in reef and beach clean ups - you don't need someone to organise a beach clean for you! Head to your local beach with some rubbish bags and some friends and you can make a difference! 
  • Choose sustainably caught seafood - overfishing effects corals as well as fish species. WWF provide great information on what seafood you should avoid and what is ok to eat. 
  • Avoid marine souvenirs
  • Support environmentally friendly responsible tourism operators - check out the Green Fins website for a list of dive and snorkel operators that have been assessed on their impact on the environment
  • Support and encourage more Marine Protected Areas
  • Support marine conservation NGOs. 

Facts about Staghorn Coral (Acropora formosa): 

  • Staghorn corals are amongst one of the fastest growing corals - they can grow 20cm in one year 
  • Despite this they are listed as 'Near threatened' on the IUCN Red List. 
  • They can resemble antlers and grow up to 2m tall
  • Although they out-compete other corals on the reef, they are one of the more delicate species. 

Monday, 7 December 2015

Marine Week: Day 1

With Shark Week and Turtle Week proving to be such a huge success, this year we decided to hold our inaugural Scuba Junkie Marine Week! The focus will be 'Corals in Crisis' and we shall be hosting our usual plethora of activities focusing on beach and reef cleans, presentations, community engagement and pub quizzes!!

The coral reef is important for many reasons and it's crucial that we start to change our habits and start to protect what is at the core of one of the most important ecosystems in the world.

Our great friends over at Green Semporna have once again given an inspirational amount of commitment and involvement. They visited the resort and helped us in gathering the kids of the local community to involve them and educate them. Activities ran through out the day and they included educational presentations, as well as fun and games aimed at inspiring kids to want to help. The atmosphere at the resort was electric as the kids took over, throwing themselves into the activities. They got stuck into a beach clean in the morning and collected over 50 bags of rubbish from our beaches and the local village! As we all know, plastics and other detritus entering our waters can be hugely detrimental to our marine creatures and reef system, and beach cleans are a quick and easy way of negating some of the damage done. 

The kids painted a beautiful mural depicting the underwater world, which is currently on display at the resort. If more of our future generation learn about the underwater environment then we can potentially inspire them to want to take an active part in protecting it, opening up the possibilities of potential employment for these children in the tourism industry.

Educating the up and coming generation is key to creating change. If we can inspire just one child to want to protect to coral reefs then we consider the day to be a success (but hopefully it will be more than just one!!)

Green Semporna are a non-profit organisation that aim to create and expand community involvement in protecting the environment. We have been working closely with them over the past few years, and they show a real commitment to wanting to create change. The success of our turtle and shark weeks has certainly been, in part, due to their involvement.

It seems that the animal world could not wait to celebrate with us! We had one of our last turtle nests, of what has been the most successful nesting year, hatch. Guests joined us as we released 80 hatchlings into the ocean. The stunning evening sky acted as a great back drop to, what is always, a incredible event.

In the evening one of the managers of the Mabul Beach Resort Steve, along with one of our on-site Environmental Officers Dave gave the opening ceremony. This highlighted Scuba Junkies continued involved in conservation and how it has been at the heart of the Scuba Junkie ethos since its opening over 10 years ago. This was followed by two extremely informative presentations from Poh Leem and Hui Ling from WWF Malaysia. 

Poh Leem gave a presentation on Marine Spatial Planning (MPS). MPS is a programme where the resources of the ocean are organised and spread out. It allows the public to have an input in the sustainable future of the ocean. Currently, there is no planning  or allocation of our ocean resources and there are huge conflicts over them. Consequently they are being sucked dry. We are pushing the boundaries and if we do not begin to organise them, we will be left with nothing. Pollution, habitat destruction and unsustainable fishing practices are all reasons why we need to start implementing MPS across the globe. There are huge benefits to this programme, not just ecologically, but also economically and socially. If we protect our oceans now they will be able to sustain for generations to come. If we continue to destroy them they way we currently are, sadly they will not.

Our second presentation of the evening provided information on Hard Coral Mapping. There are many corals that are currently listed as 'vulnerable' or 'near threatened' on the IUCN Red List. WWF have chosen species of Mushroom Coral to collect data on and gain better understanding of its population. They ask that those diving in the Semporna provide them with information on mushroom corals. Part of the mapping project also involved community involvement and workshops that highlight the importance of coral reefs. They plan to share this information with local authorities and the Town Planning Department. 

We are hugely grateful to Green Semporna and WWF Malaysia for their involvement and contribution to one of our most successful opening days to date! 

Stay posted for more updates! 

Facts about Whip Coral:

  • This is a long unbranched coral that can extend to over 3 m
  • The colour can vary from light green, yellow, brown to grey.
  • The skeleton of the coral is black, it is the soft bodied polyps of the coral that give it its colour
  • Many corals can retract their polyps, this coral can only partially retract - this gives it a barbed appearance 
  • If you look closely, sometime you can see tiny whip coral partner shrimp living on it! 

Monday, 23 November 2015

Swedish School Groups and DHL cleaning up Mabul!

The month of November has been action packed. Between visits from Swedish schools, DHL and all the incredible diving we have had we've barely had a chance to catch our breath!

The month started with a visit from the Swedish school Falu Fri. Consisting of 8 students and 2 teachers, the aim of their visit is to gain an insight into environmental concerns for this area, as well as globally. They also learned about being part of the solution. Their visit was filled with a whole host of activities. They were all involved in a mixture of beach cleans, presentations and documentary viewing. They threw themselves into the activities with gusto and listened carefully to the presentations given in the evening. The presentations included: Marine Debris, Majestic Rays and they also watched 'Sharkwater', a documentary credited as inspiring a huge movement in shark conservation.

They also participated in Discover Scuba Diving experience - you can't come to this part of the world and not try to dive with a turtle! Everyone did great, got past their initial nerves and enjoyed the new experience. They were also lucky enough to go to Pulau Sipadan. To help protect the stunning beauty of Pulau Sipadan, only certified divers can dive there, however snorkelling is allowed if you are able to get a permit. Sipadan has to be the best snorkelling you can do, and the groups loved it! They saw schools of stunning reef fish, beautiful corals, white tip reef sharks and green turtles.

 We hope that the students (and teachers) enjoyed their stay here. Not only that, but they took something positive away from it. By involving students in this sort of conservation work we hope to inspire people to get out there and try to make a change. We were delighted to hear that after returning to Sweden three of the students gave a 'Marine Debris' presentation to over 1000 other students. This is exactly the kind of impact we hope to make! They have also - extremely generously - donated 2800RM to conversation in the area!  

Just a few days rest and then it was time for our second annual visit from DHL. Seven members of the DHL team came over here with the view to help clean up Pulau Mabul. They have done extensive beach and reef cleans and have been constantly coming up with ideas to aid the island. They too were given presentations on Marine Debris and had the full dedication of our two on-site Environmental Officers - Cat and Dave. 

They also took part in our Coral Transplant programme. This on going project hope to give coral a chance to flourish. Fragments of coral are taken from around the island and brought to the Coral Nursery. This is a protected area and somewhere were we hope the live coral can once again show its stunning beauty.

Having groups such as these visit our resort is inspiring. All ages groups can get involved in conservation and be part of making a difference. Furthermore, the experience they have here is taken back home, where they can educate others in the importance of protecting our beautiful ocean! 

Wednesday, 14 October 2015

Turtle Rehabilitation!

It was last year that Scuba Junkie opened it's Turtle Rehabilitation Centre - the first of it's kind in East Sabah. For months the tank went unused - not a bad thing. We would not wish sickness on our reptilian friends. Then last month a sick turtle was brought to us by another dive centre and we have been able to put our rehabilitation centre to good use.

The affectionally named 'Myrtle' the turtle was brought to us as she was unable to dive down from the surface. Consequently she was unable to rest on the reef or - most importantly - feed. At this point we must just note that the sex of the turtle is currently undetermined. It is near impossible to tell the sex of a turtle until it reaches sexual maturity, which this young one has not. However, we have come to love her too much to refer to it as, well, 'it'. So Myrtle is a 'she' until we find out more. Our rehabilitation centre is comprised of a pool with a pump that brings in filtered sea water. The fact that she was unable to duck dive dive was causing her a lot of distress so the water has been filled just a few inches.

The reason poor Myrtle has been unable to submerge herself in the water is due to a build up of gas. The cause of this is difficult to determine. A vet from the Sabah Wildlife department came to visit and said it was one of two potential issues. It could be an intestinal infection or it could be a blockage from consuming plastic. Once the vet has fully trained our staff in administering the antibiotics in case it was an infection, she left us with enough to treat her for ten days. And so we began our emotional journey of care. The injections had to be given every day, and twice a day we were trying to feed her.

As the days went on she began to refuse food. Small squid is the best thing to feed turtles in her situation. The less than glamorous job of feeding involved cutting up squid, removing the parts that the turtle is unable to eat and trying to feed her - a smelly and messy job! Sadly she grew lethargic, she seemed depressed and was refusing food. Our concerns grew as the days went on and she barely ate. We were regularly weighing her and her weight was declining.

Suddenly, everything changed. Her course of antibiotics came to an end and the decision was made to stop weighing her as it was causing a lot of stress. It is unsure which change of events caused the dramatic change in behaviour, but suddenly she was eating. Her appetite had returned with a vengeance. From barely looking at slithers of squid placed in front of her, she was chasing down parts that were dropped in any part of the pool. We have now also gradually added sargassum weed to her meal, which is a bigger part of her natural diet than squid. Our concern then became that the food was not passing through - that the blockage remained. Fortunately she has now been passing large amounts - who knew we could get so excited about turtle poo!

Our staff have been trained in turtle care, but of course through out this experience we have had the constant guidance of people who have dealt with this situation before. Paul Barnes and Scott Maybank have been invaluable in their help. Paul Barnes came to visit just the other day and upgraded our the centre. His contribution to this project has been truly amazing. We are also hugely grateful to the Sabah Wildlife Department for all their help and advice. 

As Myrtle continues to improved we hope that soon the gas will pass through and she will be able to dive down again. It seems that whatever caused the build up of gas has been eliminated, however the gas remains. Paul Barnes
informed us that the gas has escaped into the body cavity and we must wait for it to dissolve. This process could take months. Even when she does recover it is recommended to keep her in care for a few months in case the problem returns. She is fast becoming a beloved part of our Scuba Junkie family! 

There is no doubt that this has been a emotional roller coaster filled with fear, sadness, excitement and joy. We will keep you updated on her progress and we hope to releasing back into the ocean in a few months time.

There is one key issue that has been highlighted by Myrtles arrival. Although we are currently not 100% sure what has caused the blockage and build up of gas - there is always the chance that it was plastic. Too many lives are being lost across the ocean due to the devastating increase of marine debris. By reducing the amount of plastic you use you can help save creatures across the world. 

Saturday, 5 September 2015

Shark Week: Day 6

The penultimate day of Shark Week was a busy one. We had visitors from the Community College in Semporna, reef cleans, beach cleans, coral transplant programmes and an incredible presentation. 

We had staff and interns, along with some volunteers, get stuck into a reef clean. As previously mentioned it is a sad fact that these are necessary but they do make a huge difference. It was inspiring to see that we had customers willing to give up their fun diving, or even days off to aid the reef clean. Between reef cleans we had everyone involved in a beach clean. Again, the sun was shining so it was sweaty work. 

Debris left on beaches or washed into the ocean causes a plethora of problems. Not only is it unsightly, but it threatens many of our much loves marine creatures. Turtles mistakenly consume plastic - this causes blockages in their digestive system. This blockage creates a build up of gas, which ultimately means they are unable to dive down underwater to feed - the turtle then starves to death. And it is not just turtles that are affected. Photos of manta rays surround by garbage have outrages divers across the world. Birds are also being found with stomachs full of plastic. 
The coral transplant project was undertaken in the afternoon. The aim of the programme is to promote coral reef growth. Coral reefs are one of the most complex and diverse ecosystems on the planet. They sustain the life of thousands of species. They are facing serious threats and many species of coral are listed as 'threatened' on the IUCN Red list. Artificial reefs give corals another chance to grow and flourish. We collect fragments of coral that would otherwise die and bring them to our coral nursery. Here they get a second chance and also attract loads of marine life! 

Whilst all this was going on we also had a visit for the Community College in Semporna. Environmental Officer Dave took them on the Fish ID snorkel! He talked them through the various species of fish we commonly see in this area and the ways to identify them. They also helped out with our beach clean. It was a fun filled day all round! 

In the evening we had the return of an old friend - Christian Loader. Christian works for Scubazoo and was here documenting our first ever Shark Week last year. In our busiest presentation yet,  he gave a talk on 'Shooting Sharks - how to take photos of sharks'. He recounted us with stories of the various situations he has been in whilst trying to get some of his stunning photos of sharks, described the methods and camera settings for achieving these shots and the various places across the globe he had been to. There is no doubt that Christian has taken some beautiful pictures over the years and has been privilege to some incredible sightings. He presentation was fascinating for all, the beauty of the photos was clear to everyone. 

The last day of Shark Week is here.... It's going to be a busy day. Keep and eye on the Scuba Junkie Facebook for an update on what happened! 

Facts about Whale Sharks

  • The Whale Shark is the largest fish in the ocean
  • They have been tracked travelling thousands of kilometres 
  • They have 300 tiny teeth in their mouth - but no one knows why seeing as they are filter feeders 
  • The give birth to live young
  • There is very little known about their reproductive behaviour 

Friday, 4 September 2015

Shark Week: Day 5

We are sadly approaching the last few days of our second annual Shark Week. But never fear we still have loads of activities planned. 

We had an amazing turn out for this years FINathon. Staff and customers took on the challenge of swimming around Pulau Mabul. It took them just 3 hours. Some swam the whole way, whilst others took part as a relay. But all came back excited to have been a part of the event although they were all a little sunburnt! All money that was raised during the FINathon goes towards Project Aware. Project Aware focus on two major issues that threaten our oceans: Sharks in Peril and Marine Debris. Of course there are many problems our oceans are facing but these are the two that they have chosen to focus on. Over the years we have developed a close working relationship with Project Aware. Like us, Project Aware believe that the image portrayed of sharks are man eating machines needs to change. It's not too late to sponsor the event Every little helps!

We are hugely grateful to the guests who chose to give up a days diving to be part of and support this event. 

In the evening, whilst many people tended to their burnt calves, we were given a presentation by Aaron 'Bertie' Gekoski. Bertie is currently working to Scubazoo - an extremely talented production company based in Sabah. His project is 'Borneo from Below' - an online mini series looks at the wonders of diving in Sabah, but also touches upon the problems that the area faces. Having penned the term 'funservation' they aim to raise awareness of conservation issues in a more light hearted manner. For many of the episodes Bertie and his colleague Will have worked closely with Scuba Junkie. 

There were many subjects that Bertie touched upon. As an photographer he discussed the role that media plays in conservation. A powerful image can generate a lot of publicity, which then allows the photographer to promote the need for conservation. An experience that Bertie himself had been through when his own 'shark selfie' went viral. There is no doubt that there are many ways to approach the often delicate issues in conservation. Social media is constantly growing and the power of its voice increasing. Through their mini-series on Youtube they hope to spread the word of many issues through out Borneo. Check out their episodes on: 

Facts about Leopard Sharks

  • One of the most easily recognisable sharks 
  • It can been seen resting on coral or if you are lucky you can see it swim gracefully through the water
  • It's tail is nearly the same length as it body
  • They are often called 'Zebra Sharks' as they have a striped pattern as juveniles 
  • They are very docile and will allow divers to get very close 
  • They are listed as 'Vulnerable' on the IUCN Red List