Reversing the tide – cleaning up Gaya Island
Dive operator Downbelow invited 40 volunteers, both local and foreign, to lead by example and clean up some of the rubbish choking the TAR Park.
Working from 9am till 2pm on the shores near Sabah Parks Headquarters & Downbelows PADI 5 Star IDC Centre, the trekking trail and in the mangrove swamps, Downbelow staff and the volunteers managed to rid the environment of the TAR Park of a staggering amount of rubbish, which included
• 180kg of glass bottles (mostly discarded beer bottles);
• 50kg of plastic items (plastic bags and drinks bottles the main culprits); and
• 40kg of aluminium and tin cans.
The clean-up is to help raise awareness for Dive for Earth Day coming up in April, a PADI Project AWARE initiative that encourages the conservation of our oceans, be it below the surface or on the shorelines.
“Every year we sponsor several clean-up operations to collect rubbish on Gaya Island”, said Evelyn Bernadinus, Downbelow’s Regional Manager. “We transport participants to the island and provide refreshments and lunch in exchange for trash collected”, she said.
Sabah Parks, as well as Sutera Harbour Resort, contributed to the initiative by waiving their respective jetty fees for the volunteers.
“As part of the clean-up initiative, we also donated RM888, and collected an additional RM310 from participants,” added Bernadinus, “which is for the PADI Project AWARE Foundation in support of their mission to conserve underwater environments through education, advocacy and action.”
Bernadinus hopes that more dive operators would step up to support awareness of Dive for Earth Day and contribute to keeping Kota Kinabalu’s national marine park clean, as both local and foreign volunteers expressed their satisfaction with the results of the cleanup.
Downbelow Marine & Wildlife Adventures heavily promotes the TAR Park’s diverse and vibrant underwater life and, when not on a mission to clean it, conducts daily diving and island activities to explore it.
Project Aware – Dive for Earth Day Awareness on Gaya Island