Archive for February, 2011

Meet TAR Park Resident: Stumpy – The Marble Ray

Monday, February 28th, 2011 @ 12:14 Diving Kota Kinabalu, News, Tunku Abdul Rahman Park

Diving the TAR Park, Sabah: Over the last 2 years or so the ever-improving health of the Tunku Abdul Rahman Park (TAR Park) has been pronounced.

Not only are we seeing marine life in the park, which haven’t been reported in years, but those we do find are spotted more often than ever before.

It’s the result of successful park management, banishing of destructive fishing methods like fish-bombing and cyanide fishing, and the cooperation of industry players.

Stumpy the marble ray alive and well in the TAR Park, Kota Kinabalu

Long Time Resident Marble Ray

It was thus with glee that, last Thursday, Richard got reacquainted with and old friend; Stumpy, the marble ray.

Stumpy has been in the TAR Park for quite some time, and Richard has spotted this beautiful marble ray every now and then over the last couple of years.

Named Stumpy, because the marble ray is missing his tail, is otherwise healthy and quite a sizable specimen to boot.

Whichever incident caused him to lose his tail, we’re glad to note that Stumpy is alive and happy in the TAR Park.

Come Dive Kota Kinabalu with Downbelow

Because we dive in the TAR Park several times everyday, Downbelow has unparalleled knowledge of the park’s treasures and on which dive sites you’re most likely to spot which critter.

Our divemasters and instructors are highly trained and supremely knowledgable about the park. We pride ourselves on very low instructor-to-diver ratios, with only safety more important than having fun, which is why Downbelow adheres to PADI guidelines as well as British HSE guidelines, ensuring your piece of mind whilst a guest of ours.

Book your SCUBA diving with us in Kota Kinabalu by calling us or visiting our offices in KK Times Square, or email us directly for more information.


6ft Cobia found in TAR Park but where’s the Whale Sharks?

Monday, February 21st, 2011 @ 12:02 Diving Kota Kinabalu, News

Cobia's in the TAR Park - More than likely following the whale sharksDiving the Tunku Abdul Rahman Park, Kota Kinabalu: Stumbling upon yet another whale shark clue in the park this weekend, Downbelow’s Richard found 5ft – 6ft long Cobias, often associated with larger animals.

Cobias, sometimes also referred to as black king fish, or black salmon, have feeding habbits that involve hanging around larger animals in the hopes of scavenging leftovers from the animal’s meal.

There is a good chance that the large animals, which this pair is probably following, are the whale sharks reportedly spotted in the TAR Park off Kota Kinabalu last week.

Cobias are fearlessly curious animals, which makes them wonderful photographic subjects, as Richard’s photo illustrates, but the real subject of interest remains illusive.

With the spotting of the whale sharks around the back of Gaya island last week, Downbelow is excited at the prospect of a chance encounter and photo opportunity with the gentle giants.

Follow us on Twitter for instant updates about whale shark sightings in Kota Kinabalu’s TAR Park and check out our Facebook page for images and comments.

2011 PADI SCUBA Diving IDC Internships in Sabah

Monday, February 21st, 2011 @ 10:28 Diving Borneo, Learn to Dive in Kota Kinabalu, News

Learn to dive in Kota Kinabalu: Downbelow is proud to present 2011 PADI Scuba Diving IDC Internships in Sabah, Borneo.

A professional diving internship is a hands-on way to gain invaluable, on-the-job experience of a busy dive centre, while furthering your dive education to qualify as an Open Water SCUBA Instructor or beyond.

We offer internships, based at our Gaya island based PADI 5 Star IDC Dive Centre, with a duration of between 1 and 6 months, which can be joined any time of the year.

Due to our dive centre’s proximity to the city of Kota Kinabalu (10 minutes by boat), a SCUBA Diving IDC Internship with Downbelow in Sabah means a balanced learning experience with good fun mixed in with hard work.

And as we have a lagoon and house reef just a giant stride away from the dive centre, with many more dive sites a short boat trip away, we can offer interns unlimited SCUBA diving.

2011 PADI SCUBA Diving IDC Internship in Sabah.

Start your 2011 PADI SCUBA Diving IDC Internship

First, get all the details from our Professional Internships page.

And then contact us via phone, email or by walking in to our offices in KK Times Square in Kota Kinabalu.

We look forward to hearing from you!

Downbelow is a PADI 5 Star IDC Dive Centre Our international staff provide personal, premier service at our PADI 5 Star Instructor Development (IDC) Dive Centre, where we pride ourselves on small group tuition with extremely high safety standards & procedures.

Do visit us at our Dive Shop & Travel Centre where we offer free wireless Internet and refreshments.

Tel: +6 012 866 1935

Visit our Facebook page to see what we get up to over here in paradise!

Whale sharks spotted in Kota Kinabalu, Sabah

Friday, February 18th, 2011 @ 12:12 Diving Borneo, News, Whale Sharks

File Photo: Whale shark previously sighted in Kota KinabaluKota Kinabalu, Sabah: Borneo is no stranger to whale sharks and have to been known to be on the migratory path of these magnificent animals.

At Downbelow’s dive station on Gaya island we’ve had a fair amount of whale shark action over the years. During Kota Kinabalu’s whale shark season we do regular SCUBA Diving trips to their favourite feeding grounds in search of krill, their snack of choice.

Whale sharks season in Kota Kinabalu is from roughly February to April each year, and we’ve noticed that sightings peak in roughly 2-year cycles.

With plenty of whale shark action in 2009, according to our 2 year theory, we’re expecting great things this year.

As a point in case, this week there has been 2 reports of whale shark sightings in the Tunku Abdul Rahman Park (TARP) just offshore here of Kota Kinabalu, and today specifically, krill patches have been reported.

And wherever there’s a krill patch, whale sharks are usually not far behind.

Stay tuned for more updates.

Downbelow Welcomes 4 New Local Interns

Gaya Island, Kota Kinabalu: Richard from Downbelow welcomes Gary, Lee, Jeff and Jessica who have all joined Downbelow’s very successful, ongoing local internship program.

Gary, Lee, Jeff & Jessica joins the Downbelow team

Under Richard and Downbelow’s protective wing, the Fab Four will complete a year of SCUBA Diver training to eventually qualify as professional PADI Divemasters.

Once the year is complete, they will be offered permanent contracts and the opportunity to become PADI Instructors in Downbelow’s PADI 5 Star IDC Dive Centre on Gaya island.

Good luck guys!

Gaya Island Seagrass Bed off Kota Kinabalu

Wednesday, February 16th, 2011 @ 15:28 Diving Kota Kinabalu, News

A nice sub-surface meadow of seagrassRichard and Elvis found a bed of seagrass for the Glam Group while diving off Gaya Island right on the doorstep of Kota Kinabalu, not 10 minutes away by boat from here.
Tim Tam reflecting on the bed of seagrass
Further dives will be done to investigate more once the Glam Group arrives, including documenting what types of creatures are living in it and its general health.

Richard will also regularly visit from time to time to collect photography, fleshing out the Downbelow collection.

The Glam Group is a 30 strong group hosted by Downbelow for an 8 day diving trip in April.

All from a UK University, the members of the Glam Group study Marine Biology and one of their professors, a seagrass specialist, asked Richard to try and located seagrass, hence the excitement.

Seagrass is rarely found around the Tunku Abdul Rahman Park area nowadays, in fact, it’s generally very rare this close to cities due to its sensitivity to pollution, making it an unusual find anywhere around the world.

Many years ago there would have been much more of it in the TAR Park. The meadows provide a unique environment and food source for a wide range of creatures from seahorses to seacows (dugongs).

One of the largest areas of grass is in Shark Bay, WA, where it is home to the largest population of dugongs in the world.

Richard took a few shots and documented the marine life he encountered thriving there on this visit, but is sure to return for a more thorough investigation.

They also discovered a very abundant species of starfish that is very seldom seen in Tunku Abdul Rahman Park (other areas more common, we know).

If you want to discover Kota Kinabalu’s underwater riches for yourself, come diving with Downbelow.

Contact us today to join.

Little crabs living amongst the seagrass

Superb starfish discovery

Shrimp also live in the seagrass bed

Downbelow’s next IDC & EFRI: 13 – 27 March

Tuesday, February 8th, 2011 @ 15:25 Diving Sabah, IDC, News

Participating in an Instructor Development CourseWe at Downbelow are hosting our next AI & OWSI (IDC) & EFRI course next month from 13 – 27 March 2011.

This a great opportunity for aspiring Dive Instructors to qualify as fully fledged PADI Open Water Scuba Diving Instructors.

As with all our courses and IDCs, our March IDC takes place at our PADI 5 Star IDC Dive & Adventure Centre on Gaya Island just off Kota Kinabalu.

Our PADI GO Pro Team consists of Course Director, Master Instructor and 2 Staff Instructors, making our staff-to-candidate ratio very high, helping to ensure 100% success.

During the IDC we’ll be covering areas as diverse as risk management, teaching children, the business of diving and PADI standards and procedures.

The IDC is designed to develop you, a well-rounded diving educator, who can work anywhere in the world.

Instructor Development Course (IDC)

The full IDC consists of 2 PADI programs: The Assistant Instructor Course and The Open Water Scuba Instructor Course.

At the end of these 2 courses, after successfully completing the PADI Instructor Examination, you will gain your full certification as a PADI Open Water Scuba Instructor.

PADI Instructor Examiners fly out from Sydney, Australia, especially to assess and examine IDC Candidates.

AI & OWSI (IDC) & EFRI Course

Dates: 13 – 27 March 2011
IE: 30 – 31 March in KK

More information on our courses and internships can be found in our Go Pro section.

Contact us to book your spot on the IDC or to find out more.

Downbelow is a PADI 5 Star IDC Dive Centre Our international staff provide personal, premier service at our PADI 5 Star Instructor Development (IDC) Dive Centre, where we pride ourselves on small group tuition with extremely high safety standards & procedures.

Do visit us at our Dive Shop & Travel Centre where we offer free wireless Internet and refreshments.

Tel: +6 012 866 1935

Visit our Facebook page to see what we get up to over here in paradise!

Happy Chinese New Year

Wednesday, February 2nd, 2011 @ 16:58 News

Happy Year of the RabbitThe staff of Downbelow Marine & Wildlife Adventures would like to wish everyone celebrating Chinese New Year a very happy Gong Xi Fa Chai!

This year is the Year of the Rabbit, said to be a placid year during which we can get some rest and dive relaxing dives after the hectic year past.

We hope that everyone gets to spend quality time with family over the Chinese New Year holidays and wish you a safe journey if you have a long way to go to get home.

Enjoy the break and get ready to set your focus for the Rabbit Year ahead.

As for your diving; think about what you would like to achieve during the Year of the Rabbit.

Do you want to qualify as a diver, or perhaps qualify as a dive instructor?

And if you’re looking for a slice of paradise to escape to, or an activity for the family to partake in, you know where to find us.

Happy Year of the Rabbit from Dive Downbelow!

The Downbelow Island Team (staff)