Illegally discarded fishing nets are a scourge!

illegal ghost net, net removal dive, conservation efforts, marine protection, marine debris, padi instructor trainer, padi platinum course director, padi divemaster, professional diving internship, go pro education, professional diver

Illegally dumping a fishing net in the sea damages the delicate balance of the marine ecosystem, because it is ‘marine debris’, in other words unnatural!

Richard Swann, resident Platinum PADI Course Director and Downbelow’s Managing Director, removed a 50-metre net from the shallow depths of the coral reef between 8 and 10 metres, with the necessary assistance of our local Go PRO internship candidates Azhar and Mac.

The two interns are completing their PADI dive education with mentor Richard to qualify as PADI Divemasters within our 1-year Downbelow-created ‘Work4aCareer’ program! Soon-to-be dive professionals, they receive a unique education by physically experiencing the positive contributions to our marine environment.

As part of their 1-year internship, Mac and Azhar acquire amazing experience by participating in such challenging conservation projects as net removal dives. In their future dive careers, they will refer to all of their experience with us to fight against marine debris, a plight our local area faces on a daily basis.

We fully support Mac and Azhar to continue their dive education to become PADI Instructors in their future, so they may extend their passion for conservation to others!

Contact our Head Office for more details on our Go PRO internship programs to include professional dive training conducted at our Gaya Island beach house!

Exemplary team of Project AWARE divers!

Sunday, October 26th, 2014 @ 15:00 Conservation, News, Project AWARE, Tunku Abdul Rahman Park

netRecently, an organized team of our island staff team of certified and professional divers and our Go PRO interns, promptly removed an illegally discarded fishing net found by our PADI professionals.

A special guest who has been experiencing our daily dive package to explore the Tunku Abdul Rahman Park joined the team!

The crew completed their mission in a single dive and our resident Platinum PADI Course Director Richard Swann spotted a turtle close to the area where the net was only moments ago, proving our efforts of conservation make a positive difference!

It’s a wonderful feeling, to see marine life free in their natural environment and for us to protect our beautiful nature!

Conservation is a passion of ours and many of our programs involve a unique learning experience for travellers to Sabah to gain an appreciation and awareness on the benefits of preserving nature. Contact our Head Office to discuss a suitable itinerary for you to explore Sabah’s biodiversity!

Team of Conservationists Glad to be Cleaning Beaches of Malaysia

Tuesday, October 1st, 2013 @ 09:49 Conservation, News, Project AWARE


High tide combined with strong winds can often leave a line of debris on coastal shores around the world & today it was our turn.

The beaches around Gaya Island are public & the responsibility to keep the area clean falls under the local authorities however the Downbelow team are always happy to assist & we do so on a daily basis year round.

As responsible conservationists the Downbelow staff are happy to clean the beaches whenever possible but this month all our staff are joining in to support the cause & help tackle & raise awareness on marine debris.

Trash comes from many sources but ultimately it originates from us humans & our seemingly endless desire for plastic products so please consider unnecessary packaging before purchasing & dispose rubbish wisely!

Gaya Island Cleanup in support of Project AWARE Foundation

Wednesday, September 11th, 2013 @ 09:00 News, Project AWARE

gaya island cleanup

As promised the entire Downbelow team are continuing to clean the beaches around Gaya Island as part of marine debris awareness month with the Project AWARE Foundation.

More and more trash is ending up in the ocean, causing distress within the environment and threatening the lives of the marine animals. The marine debris comes from us humans and that is why we need to take action now! Start cleaning up our ocean and also change our lifestyle – everyone can make a difference.

As a 100% AWARE Dive Centre we are proud to join in and contribute as much as we can!

Project AWARE Co-ordinator Visits Downbelow in Malaysia

Wednesday, July 17th, 2013 @ 12:19 News, Project AWARE


There was a little buzz in the air this weekend when Hannah Pragnell-Raasch from Project AWARE came to visit us at Downbelow.

Hannah, Project AWARE’s Program & Outreach Coordinator is based at the organisation’s head office in Sydney – Australia. Not only did Hannah spend some time in our head office meeting the team, she also introduced herself to this month’s IDC candidates who all benefited from getting to know a little bit more about the non-profit organisation.

Hannah even managed to squeeze in a day’s diving and completed the AWARE Shark Conservation Speciality Course where she encountered 8 Black Tip Reef Sharks!!

We are big supporters of Project AWARE. Every month we run numerous conservation programs, including Project Aware Beach Clean-Ups, AWARE Coral Reef Conservation Courses, AWARE Shark Conservation Courses as well as the all exciting FINATHON!

Downbelow is also a 100% AWARE Partner which means we donate on behalf of every diver an amount of money to the organisation so all of our students receive an upgraded qualification card with the Project AWARE logo indicating that they too are ambassadors for the ocean.

The Project AWARE Foundation is a growing movement of scuba divers protecting the ocean planet – one dive at a time. To find out more please visit their website.

To get more involved please contact us to see what projects we have coming up !

Downbelow Hosted PADI Instructor Examination (IE) Borneo

Thursday, March 21st, 2013 @ 15:01 News, Project AWARE


Last weekend Downbelow assisted PADI for their PADI Instructor Examination in Kota Kinabalu, Borneo.

We proudly welcomed the candidates for this session together with PADI Instructor Examiner Mike Hayes as they utilized our PADI 5 Star IDC Dive Centre for the last day of the exam.

Our centre which is located only 10 minutes away on a speed boat from the city, boasts properly-maintained diving equipment, privacy from the crowds and of course, the lovely open water for diving.

It was good to see the candidates concluding their exam with flying colors and it was even better when everyone shouted in unison “Extinction is not an option!”.

Film Crew Does Not Support Extinction

Friday, March 15th, 2013 @ 16:01 News, Project AWARE


Resident PADI Course Director Richard Swann & the rest of the Downbelow team spent a wonderful day with Japanese film crews Go Hayakata, Masayuki Kuritani, Mari Hatano from Sky 1.

Also in the group was Freediving champion Hanako Hirose. All of them were here for a film shoot recently.

They decided to spend the day with us and were rewarded with lovely scenes underneath the waves within the Tunku Abdul Rahman Park area with Richard and Strike showing them all the right places.

Afterwards Richard took the opportunity to share his passion for Project AWARE and how everyone at Downbelow is fully behind them, the group also lent their support as they shouted “Leave our sharks in the ocean!”

Great news hot off the press – Victory at the CITES!

Thursday, March 14th, 2013 @ 17:25 News, Project AWARE


Finally a really exciting and great news came out from the CITES meeting in Thailand today. Five commercially valuable species of sharks were accepted into the CITES Appendices, along with both species of manta rays and a sawfish.

The endangered species received overwhelming support from countries all over the world. This proves that if there is tremendous public support, the leaders cannot ignore it.

With this final result, any trade on the species between countries will be tightly controlled.

All of us at Downbelow are elated and overjoyed with this news and we would like to thank everyone who signed the petition.

The fight is not over yet though. The essential phase for implementation will now start but at the same time, we must keep on teaching others the importance of conservation!

Sharing our Passion For Conservation with Borneo Adventurers

Wednesday, March 13th, 2013 @ 16:16 Borneo Adventure, News, Project AWARE


Downbelow’s resident PADI Course Director Richard Swann is really passionate about conservation and believes that everyone has their part to play in supporting the fight and spreading the message of conservation.

People cannot be passionate about something that they do not fully understand and because of that will fail to spread the message effectively.

That is why we try to share the knowledge with others at every opportunity. One such occasion was when our Borneo Adventure group were at our PADI 5 Star IDC Dive Centre completing their PADI Open Water Course recently.

Richard included the AWARE Coral Reef Conservation Speciality Course so the participants can learn and appreciate more of the wonderful things we see underwater.

With the right knowledge and a heart full of passion, we are hopeful that we ignited a spark that will eventually lead to a fire in their hearts to fight for the voiceless – the marine life.

Sign up for one of our conservation courses & you too can learn to appreciate your underwater environment more.

At the same time you are also supporting our conservation minded company as we are 100% AWARE supporters both financially & educationally.

Contact us if you would like to find out more about our conservation courses and projects.

US Navy Group enjoy a day of scuba diving Gaya Island

Wednesday, March 6th, 2013 @ 15:30 Dive Kota Kinabalu, News, Project AWARE


Resident PADI Course Director Richard Swann & the Downbelow team had a great day diving with the guys from the USS Frank Cable AS40 which sailed into Kota Kinabalu a few days ago.

The 16 strong group of avid divers from the US Navy enjoyed the sun, sea & sand with the Downbelow crew at our PADI 5 Star IDC Dive Centre at Gaya Island.

Since they are also passionate about shark protection they volunteered to join the global campaign to say no to extinction of our priceless ocean inhabitants!

If you or your group are visiting Kota Kinabalu, Sabah soon and have a day or two to spare, why not visit us for a day of diving in the lovely waters of Tunku Abdul Rahman Park?

It only takes 10 minutes by our speedboat from the city.

Contact us to see what we our dive centre can offer!

Learn to Dive with PADI Scuba diving courses for divers visiting Kota Kinabalu, Sabah and Borneo.
Copyright 2014 All Rights Reserved By Downbelow. Unless otherwise stated all text, web & graphic design and photography is by Richard and Joanne

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