The Malaysia International Dive Expo (MIDE) this July was a fantastic opportunity to meet AWARE supporters and thank them in person for their efforts to protect the ocean. Scuba Junkie shark expert Rohan Perkins presented at MIDE to help raise awareness for sharks. Rohan received Project AWARE funding through the Ocean Action Project in 2012 so I made a special trip to visit the Scuba Junkie team and check out their conservation programs. The Semporna Shark Sanctuary aims to protect one of the most biodiverse marine ecosystems in the world and provide a safe sanctuary for threatened species of sharks and rays. It was AMAZING to see my first shark whilst diving, a leopard shark! And there were more to follow, including white tips and grey reef sharks.
I completed my Advanced Openwater including the Peak Performance Buoyancy Adventure Dive where my instructor, the awesome Steve Ashby, had me swimming through hoops, hovering up-side-down and doing rollie pollies all in the name of perfecting my buoyancy skills.
Peak Performance Buoyancy is a fun course and a skill all divers need to ensure you don’t cause any damage to the marine environment whilst diving. It’s also an important skill to use when you Dive Against Debris. As divers, we are in a unique position to see first-hand the damage rubbish causes to the marine environment. The steps we take and the data we report are critical to help avert the marine debris crisis and stop trash choking our marine life. Diving in with the Scuba Junkie crew, we made our dive count – collecting bottles, plastic bags, a huge steel pipe and to top it off, a few nappies! Back on shore, we used the Data Card to categorise our trash and submit the data online.
July saw a record number of divers swimming to end finning for Project AWARE’s global FinathonTM so I made a detour to meet the hosts of our first FinathonTM in Malaysia, Dive Downbelow in Kota Kinabalu. Richard and Joanne Swann are FIN-tastic Project AWARE ambassadors and Richard was one of the first certified AWARE Shark Conservation Instructors. Thank you to Richard and Joanne for welcoming me on to beautiful Gaya Island within the Tunku Abdul Rahman Marine Park where I also became an AWARE Shark Conservation Diver. It was great to chat with the other divers, and my instructor Paul Jones, about sharks, the threats they face and the actions we can take to help protect sharks. And to round off a jawesome trip eight black tip reef sharks came to say hello!
Special thanks to our 100% AWARE Partners Dive Downbelow and Scuba Junkie for sharing your conservation actions. It was a privilege to meet you all and show thanks on behalf of Project AWARE for all the great work you do to protect our ocean planet. Keep up the great work! Thank You.
Extended thanks to Rohan Perkins, Steve Ashby, Kris Ashby, Cat Cassidy and Dave McCann at Scuba Junkie and Joanne and Richard Swann, Paul Jones and Liz Street at Dive Downbelow.