Marine Ecosystem Awareness Project
By Lynn Chew, SDI Course Director
70% of our globe is covered with water, be it lakes, rivers or oceans. The health of the oceans has a great impact on the environment, food chain and oxygen levels throughout the world. Thus, we must protect and care for them. When the oceans die, we will be directly impacted.
We discovered a dive site covered with many ghost nets on our previous visits to Tokong Burung near Pulau Tioman, Johor in Malaysia. The nets threaten coral life and the marine ecosystem. This triggered the thought of asking SDI instructor Alan Keh, Captain of Calepso Liveaboard, to carry out the cleaning project from the 18th to the 21st of October 2019.
The plan was further supported by another group of guests from DM Scuba and led by Che Leong. When it comes to saving the ocean, there is no competition among the agencies and they are willing to work hand in hand.
Besides doing the physical cleaning activities, we also introduced the SDI Marine Ecosystem Awareness Specialty course to all participants on board. The aim was to give everyone a better idea of how the marine ecosystem relates to divers and how human activities affect the underwater world.
Day two was spent completing the theory and training dives required for the Marine Ecosystem Awareness Specialty course. Students were taught about the different marine organisms, the impact humans had on them, as well as how to observe and record data unobtrusively.
On the third day, an early morning boat arrived at the dive site . The four leaders did a site inspection dive to ensure the water conditions and environment were suitable for our activity. To our surprise, the visibility was superb and allowed us to clearly see the topography.
To ensure safety, all participants were briefed on the plan, procedures, and techniques to manage the cutting devices.
Participants were divided into smaller groups, consisting of:
- a diver cutting off the nets
- a diver responsible for collecting and rolling the nets, as well as tying them to the lift bag
- a diver monitoring air consumptions and No Decompression Limits.
Gloves were given to all participants to prevent injuries.
With the divers’ hard work, we managed to clear off a big area of fishing nets which severely covered the reefs. Unfortunately, many fishing nets remained on the reefs, as we ran out of time. We hope we will be able to return to this dive site to complete the job!
The participants were excited and happy about their involvement in such a meaningful project. We hope the sharing of this article will create an increased awareness and incentive for all ocean lovers to contribute to the marine ecosystem. Together, we can ensure the sustainability and healthiness of the beautiful marine world. Every effort counts!
Special Thanks to Che Leong from DM Scuba and Calespso Liveaboard for the knowledge and support they gave to help make this event successful!