At Downbelow we've kicked our shark conservation awareness efforts up a few notches with a very proud achievement.
Our Resident PADI Course Director Richard Swann has just become the 1st PADI member to qualify as an Instructor PLUS Instructor Trainer for Project AWARE's Distinctive Shark Conservation Speciality course.
Eager to share his experience and love for the creatures through this new channel, Richard got straight down to the business of teaching.
First to benefit from Richard's new qualification, PADI Divemaster Interns Joseph and Steve completed the course, satisfied the criteria of the speciality and became the first divers to be qualified in this distinctive speciality.
If sharks could cheer, they would have!
The Project AWARE Shark Conservation Speciality course is of particular interest for us here at Downbelow.
We have a resident community of black tip reef sharks just minutes from our PADI 5 Star IDC Dive Centre on Gaya island, which is located in the Tunku Abdul Rahman marine park, 10 minutes offshore from Kota Kinabalu.
Richard has actively spotted these black tips since 2007 and saw at least 25 individuals over the years.
Recently he's been studying them intently and has documented evidence of 15 distinct individuals.
This speciality course is another way to share our passion for sharks.
Until the end of Big Shark Shout Out week, which runs from 15 - 23 October, people diving with Downbelow during this time can add the Project AWARE Shark Conservation Speciality to their diving day for only RM180 extra.
We provide the required learning materials to all participants, and 2 dives will be where our local community of black tips is usually spotted, although - such is nature - we can't guarantee sightings.