A Downbelow adventure is a unique education of marine and wildlife!

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In support of World Wildlife Day, our 20-strong adventure group from Denmark take a mass selfie to raise awareness that they are ‘Serious About Wildlife Crime’, as they gain a unique education on marine and wildlife during their Downbelow adventure!

Resident Platinum PADI Course Director Richard Swann encourages our newly qualified PADI Open Water Scuba Instructors, Azhar and Kerry, to share their own experiences in marine conservation. The two have many experiences, from beach clean-ups to ‘Ghost Net’ removals, which they can draw from to relate the AWARE Coral Reef Conservation Specialty presentation for their student divers’ knowledge development!

Newly qualified PADI Open Water Divers, such as our Danish adventurers’, are equally passionate as the PADI professionals of our premier PADI 5 Star IDC Dive Centre, and our Go PRO internship candidates assist for their own experience of contributing to the marine environment!

‘Expedition Borneo’, is a 30-day program we personalised for our adventure groups of young travellers from Denmark, which offers a unique educational approach through various activities at choice ecotourism operations.

For more information on holidays that help to make a positive difference, get in touch with our Sabah Travel Centre in Kota Kinabalu, where our experienced and helpful will create a program catered to you and your adventure group to explore Kota Kinabalu and Sabah!

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!

What active conservation is there in Kota Kinabalu, Sabah?

Saturday, December 27th, 2014 @ 08:00 Conservation, News, Project AWARE, Tunku Abdul Rahman Park

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What active conservation there is in Kota Kinabalu, Sabah? There is a collective effort from the local authorities and they need the support of dive operations in the Tunku Abdul Rahman marine park! We are always there for environmental protection and support!

For the past month, there have been numerous illegally discarded fishing nets discovered snagged on the fragile coral reefs of dive sites in the marine park. Downbelow operations fully sponsor various conservation projects with logistics and professional diving staff to demonstrate our Project AWARE commitment, and one such instance is two separate net removal dives. The first dive is a small team of 6, who removed a very old net, and on the second dive the following day, a group of 10 divers removed a new ‘ghost net’ that was already claiming marine life.

We work together with the local governing bodies to keep our marine environment protected; and within our own operations, various PADI courses and programs are integrated with raising awareness for responsible tourism. For example, our 1-day snorkel safari program is combined with marine debris collection for our snorkelling guests to contribute themselves!

For the past decade that our operations have been in the successful marine park, we can definitely see a positive difference. If we continue supporting one another, we can continue to enjoy our beautiful paradise for many years to come!

Contact our Kota Kinabalu HQ for more information about our marine conservation efforts and how you can get involved!

Kota Kinabalu: Pro divers protect coral reef from marine debris!

Saturday, December 13th, 2014 @ 08:00 Conservation, News, Project AWARE, Tunku Abdul Rahman Park

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Kota Kinabalu is a lively city, and the Tunku Abdul Rahman marine park is located just off the coast of the city centre.

Scuba diving in the protected park is a prime location for its incredible coral reefs, however marine debris from mankind is so detrimental to environmental health!

Pro divers at our premier PADI 5 Star IDC Dive Centre, tackle yet another ‘ghost net’ from one of our favourite dive sites in the park. The Tunku Abdul Rahman Park is a very successful government designated marine park but governments need help from dive centres who are out everyday to keep them healthy.

Net removal dives are fully sponsored by Downbelow, with the necessary logistics and professional staff to remove illegally discarded fishing nets discovered with efficiency and safety always a priority.

Resident Platinum PADI Course Director Richard Swann leads the organized team to remove a very old fishing net to prevent it from deteriorating the coral reef and its marine life any further.

As committed Project AWARE professional divers, dive buddies brought along large mesh bags in aid of raising awareness about the negative impact of marine debris on the environmental health in our local area.

Contact our HQ in Kota Kinabalu, Sabah, for more information on other conservation projects we will conduct in future, such as coral planting to revitalize damaged reef!

Removing another ‘ghost net’ to protect TAR park!

Sunday, December 7th, 2014 @ 08:00 Conservation, News, Project AWARE, Tunku Abdul Rahman Park

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When discovering a ‘ghost net’, it’s shocking and disappointing, and especially when we can see the effects of the destructive net!

The conservation efforts of the past decade of 150+ net removal dives, proves our expertise allows us to act quickly; and as usual, Downbelow operations immediately sponsor another project with logistics. Equipment, safety and full-time, dedicated, PADI professional staff are arranged to remove the illegally discarded fishing net to protect and preserve the fragile coral reef in Tunku Abdul Rahman marine park.

Go PRO interns, having recently completed their professional dive training to become PADI Instructors, achieve valuable experience for their involvement, and to live one of the most important aspects of the dive lifestyle: raising awareness on marine conservation.

This fishing net was one of the largest any of our team ever handled, which is why so many professional divers participated. The net removal dive took roughly one hour to complete, and all divers are happier for it!

For more information on other marine conservation projects we can arrange for our clients, contact our HQ and discuss a suitable itinerary for your group or party. Contribute to the marine environment on one of our unique educational programs conducted at our Gaya Island beach house in Sabah!

Illegally discarded fishing nets are a scourge!

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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

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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 !

Learn to Dive with PADI Scuba diving courses for divers visiting Kota Kinabalu, Sabah and Borneo.
Copyright 2015 All Rights Reserved By Downbelow. Unless otherwise stated all text, web & graphic design and photography is by Richard and Joanne

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