Flemings at Selingan Island turtle hatchery!

Saturday, August 29th, 2015 @ 08:00 Conservation, News, Sightings

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It was an amazing moment for family of four, the Flemings, at Selingan Island turtle hatchery, as they witness a sea turtle laying her eggs!

The Fleming children especially, were in awe to see a real live turtle in the wild let alone see the animal lay her eggs on the beach of Selingan Island.

On the evening of our Sabah Travel Centre’s 2D1N itinerary is what our guests look forward to most, because the rangers responsible for the turtle hatchery will invite guests to witness any sea turtle activity.

Lucky Fleming family got to witness the whole process of turtle conservation: from data collection of turtle carapace size to the incubation of turtle hatchlings.

Contribute to Sabah’s ecotourism when you choose our programs and witness for yourself the protection of Borneo nature!

Frogfish choose Tunku Abdul Rahman Marine Park!

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What is it about Tunku Abdul Rahman Marine Park that makes frogfish choose it for their home?

Frogfish (Antennariidae) are part of the anglerfish family, characterised for luring their prey, and learning frogfish marine biology has shown us they are masters of camouflage! They can change colour to suit their environment; or they may use other organisms, such as algae, to hide.

Recently, our island staff team have enjoyed visiting a frogfish that has taken up residency on a coral block of a reef in the Tunku Abdul Rahman marine park where we operate. It’s very special (amongst divers) to find a frogfish because these fish are somewhat particular of their marine environment. So if the frogfish stays, it’s very happy – the best compliment, for Project AWARE supporters like ourselves at Downbelow, to receive!

Contact us at our Sabah Travel Centre to arrange a daily leisure diving program at our PADI 5 Star IDC Dive Centre to visit the frogfish with one of our experienced PADI professionals!

Discovering a new species in Sabah is very likely!

Tuesday, April 21st, 2015 @ 08:00 News, Sightings, University of South Wales

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Great friend, educator and honorary Downbelow Marine and Wildlife Adventures staff, Professor Peter Roy Wiles, enjoys the fact that discovering a new species in Sabah is very likely!

On an exciting day trip to the Kiulu River, nearby Kota Kinabalu, the professor is joined by Downbelow’s Marketing Director Joanne Swann and admin executive Shirley from our HQ, in search of a watermite!

Professor Wiles’ years of research into watermite species have contributed enormously to the future of scientific studies of the miniscule arthropod, scientific name Hydrachnidiae.

For the first couple of weeks of his visit to Sabah, Professor Wiles accompanied a group of students from the University of South Wales on their 5th annual tropical ecology field trip, which is hosted by our premier PADI 5 Star IDC Dive Centre.

Marine conservation is, and always will be, an important element to the Downbelow company mission, and it’s a privilege and honour to host groups of school and university students on their unique educational program.

The professor and his helpful assistants do find a watermite unrecognisable to our expert, however we must wait with bated breath for the results on whether it is definitely a newly discovered species, so follow this story to find out more!

For more information on exploring the beautiful and exotic nature of Sabah, contact our experienced Sabah Travel Centre experts, who will be more than happy to create a suitable program for you!

Downbelow headline local Sabah newspaper!

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Downbelow headline local newspaper, after Resident Platinum PADI Course Director and Downbelow’s Managing Director Richard Swann got a shot of a long-awaited Whale Shark in the TAR marine park!

During a visit from a group of Politeknik Sandakan students, many participants witnessed the first migration of Whale Shark through the local Kota Kinabalu waters! It was a juvenile, but that doesn’t mean to say it was small, far from it – Whale Sharks are an amazing sight for the very reason that they are the largest fish in the world!

As quickly as he could, Richard managed to get a few shots of the ‘big fish’ to show our Politeknik Sandakan students whilst they watched the animal swim around and under the Downbelow speedboat they were aboard.

Wildlife spotting means just that – not touching! It’s important to display appropriate interaction with any animal, whether underwater or terrestrial land, which is the very focus of the article for which one of Richard’s photos goes with.

In dive briefings, our PADI Instructors will always remind clients on the environmentally-responsible behaviour towards marine life, and we commend the writer and newspaper for spreading awareness on the importance of our local community to gain such appreciation.

Contact our Sabah Travel Centre for the chance to spot wildlife (underwater or on land!), for you and/or your travelling group in Sabah, Borneo!

Downbelow teach SCUBA to the future of Sabah’s tourism industry!

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Our Downbelow premier PADI 5 Star IDC Dive Centre operations were honoured to host a whole day for our 30 friends visiting from Politeknik Sandakan!

The students will gain a deeper understanding and appreciation for the Project AWARE mission through their experience of the PADI Discover Scuba Diving program and Snorkel Safari. Nothing beats experiencing the reality of scuba diving, and inspiring others to become Project AWARE supporters themselves!

It seemed to be kismet when a whale shark was spotted swimming within the confines of the TAR marine park, and several of the students (who were snorkelling, as a matter of fact) were lucky enough to see it up close from one of our dive boats!

We only wish for the students of Politeknik Sandakan to continue visiting us on the regular basis that they are doing to always remember how important the contribution to our marine environment is for the future of Sabah’s tourism industry.

Sabah Travel Centre experts at our Kota Kinabalu HQ are experienced in creating itineraries to suit the educational mission. Get in touch if your group would like our experts to create terrestrial-based programs – such as jungle trekking the Salt Trails or climbing Mount Kinabalu!

First ‘catch’ of the year: GoPRO divers remove another ‘Ghost Net’!

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Hook and line fishing (with a maximum of 2 hooks) is fishing activity that is permitted in the confines of Tunku Abdul Rahman Park, but not nets used for commercial fishing; so when our dive operation (who are passionate about marine conservation) found such a net recently, our Go PRO divers couldn’t help themselves to remove another ‘Ghost Net’ as our first ‘catch’ of year!

Last week, our team of professional Project AWARE divers with years of experience showed our Go PRO internship candidates how to remove an illegally discarded fishing net from the fragile coral reefs of a nearby dive site we frequent when conducting leisure dives.

Sadly, there was the shredded carcass of a Blacktip reef shark found entangled, and a sight that no diver (no matter how experienced) can prepare themselves for the shock.

Good news is, there were several crustaceans that the team of Project AWARE divers freed for that marine life to have a chance at survival. That’s a chance we take, as marine life has a very low survival rate once physiologically damaged by such trauma, but try we must!

This battle against marine debris has been going on for the past decade, and our operations are determined to support the local environmental authorities for the sake of diving our beautiful underwater world in Sabah, Borneo for many, many years to come!

Danum Valley: Something for everyone in the virgin rainforest!

Saturday, January 31st, 2015 @ 08:00 News, Sightings

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Sabah Travel Centre Managers Alice and Magdalene report Danum Valley has something for everyone to enjoy in the virgin rainforest!

A ‘familiarity trip’ is organised and fully-sponsored by Downbelow Marine and Wildlife Adventures to explore the attractions of Danum Valley to increase product knowledge for the benefit of our clients.

The ladies stayed at the Borneo Rainforest Lodge, as well as Tabin Wildlife Resort, to assess the level of customer service meets our clients’ expected standards of excellence!

They also learnt a lot of the incredible plant and animal biodiversity of Sabah, Borneo; particularly during guided walks in the morning and afternoons to spot rare and endemic wildlife. Beautiful views of the misty jungle in the mornings are just amazing from the watchtower at the Borneo Rainforest Lodge; and at the Tabin Wildlife Resort, they saw a variety of animal footprints covering the mound that is the Lipad mud volcano.

Get more information on how our Sabah Travel Centre can create an individual itinerary for you to explore the untouched ‘heart of Borneo’ in Danum Valley!

It’s truly amazing to dive with a battery of barracudas!

Tuesday, March 18th, 2014 @ 09:37 Gaya Island Animals, News, Sightings, Tunku Abdul Rahman Park

Barracudas Borneo

Tunku Abdul Rahman Park offer incredible sights during open water scuba diving and our premier PADI 5 Star IDC beach house conduct 3 dives on a daily basis within the protected area!

Our professional dive guides are very experienced with the coral reefs in the marine park, because it’s their underwater office!
Our full time guides navigate effortlessly along the various reef systems and show our clients the very best to offer in the warm tropical waters. For example, a battery of barracuda is most likely found at certain reefs, usually where it is closer to shore, so that they may take the opportunity to acquire easy prey.

Our guides understand the behaviour of fish through studying them during their scuba diving career, which is why scuba divers and snorkelers, particularly professional divers, act as ambassadors for protecting and conserving the marine environment.

Find out more on how you can volunteer your efforts and join Project AWARE’s movement to preserve our beautiful marine world. Contact one of our friendly Head Office staff to arrange a suitable itinerary of daily leisure diving at our premier PADI 5 Star IDC beach house in Borneo!

Bamboo Sharks in Borneo

Thursday, November 21st, 2013 @ 10:42 News, Sightings


Even though the Tunku Abdul Rahman Marine Park is just next to the city of Kota Kinabalu, the variety of marine animals that call this place home is enormous.

Among them is the Bamboo Shark that can occasionally be found resting under overhangs & coral blocks by day then hunting at night.

This awesome critter can be recognised by the faint bands that develop on the mature adult & white edging on the gill slits.

Come dive with the Downbelow team in Borneo and see what finds you!

Critter of the week: Cat Shark of Borneo

Monday, September 16th, 2013 @ 09:00 News, Sightings

catshark borneo

The wonderful Cat Shark above is one of the many marine animals that we regularly find on our night dives due to their nocturnal behaviour. Cat Sharks are found in temperate and tropical seas worldwide, ranging from very shallow intertidal waters to depths of 2,000 metres (6,600 ft) or more, depending on species.

Resident PADI Platinum Course Director and also professional Underwater Photographer Richard Swann was very lucky to get an unusual shot of a Catshark out in the open so we can appreciate their features.

Sadly they are one of the common fatalities of discarded nets so net removal is high on the Downbelow agenda. Whenever we find any discarded or illegal nets, we will remove it as soon as possible, encouraging our staff, interns and trainees to help.