Celebrating Halloween 2015 with a ‘Ghost Net’ removal!

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Celebrating Halloween 2015 with a ‘Ghost Net’ removal was fitting – to show the macabre effects on the local marine environment in TARP from an illegally dumped fishing net!

Soon after the net was found on a dive site, a team of our dedicated and full time professionals and Go PRO interns assembled to remove it, and they did it in a single dive. Internship candidates Mike, Ian, Ashley and Katie valued the experience so much, for the positive contribution towards the Project AWARE movement, and a passion that divers share: marine conservation! It’s been more than 150 net removals in the past decade, all of which have been fully sponsored by our Downbelow operations with necessary dive logistics and the manpower of experienced professional divers, and our support for Sabah’s local environmental authorities to preserve and protect will continue indefinitely!

Get more details on how to get involved in marine conservation projects at our premier PADI 5 Star IDC Dive Centre, in Sabah, Borneo!

Downbelow’s interns protect the TARP environment!


Downbelow Marine and Wildlife Adventures’ interns protect the TARP environment from the many hazards of an illegally discarded fishing net!

Tunku Abdul Rahman Park’s 5 islands is a protected area, which is difficult to police because of its close proximity to mainland Kota Kinabalu city centre. And where there is a high population of tourists and residents, so much more marine debris enters the marine ecosystem. One of the worst marine debris is a fishing net because it’s still ‘fishing’ underwater, until it is removed. Project AWARE ambassador, resident PADI Platinum Course Director Richard Swann of our Go PRO team, leads a group of our professional scuba diving interns to remove the net from further damaging the delicate coral. Marine conservation is one of the most fulfilling dive lifestyle experiences any professional divers can have, and whenever possible our operations involves those in training to organise such projects!

Get more details on a Go PRO course at our PADI 5 Star IDC Dive Centre facilities in Sabah!

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!

Professional duty to keep diving at Downbelow!


Our island staff team don’t give up, even during the rain, because it’s a professional duty to keep diving at Downbelow providing the conditions are safe!

Of course, there are extra challenges to organise the daily leisure diving program when it’s really pouring down with rain, but if our captains can safely handle the boat to the dive site and the conditions are safe for our clients then nothing stops our ‘Pro Divers’ from diving! 

We will often contact our clients to ask whether they wish to continue with their snorkelling program or reschedule for another day. We also do not advise young children to join on heavy rain days not because of safety but because they won’t enjoy it. Most divers however are not dissuaded by the rain. After all we’re gonna get wet anyway!

No matter the weather, our island team will supervise all in-water activities to ensure the safety of our guests are their highest priority.

For more information on our dive centre operations, contact our Sabah Travel Centre in Kota Kinabalu, where our experts are more than happy to create a personalised itinerary to experience one of our daily island programs!

Pro divers remove another Ghost Net in TARP!

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To prevent anymore damage to our underwater environment of coral reefs, a team of pro divers remove another Ghost Net in TARP!

Some of the professional divers have many years of experience in this particular field of marine conservation, such as resident Platinum PADI Course Director Richard Swann. For more than a decade, Richard has mentored hundreds of divers to achieve their professional goals and live the diver lifestyle as a PADI Open Water Scuba Instructor! One of his many passions is to inspire those professional divers, as well as recreational divers and the general public, about the value of protecting and preserving our marine environment.

Recently, we have noticed strong current on and off at certain dive sites within the marine park, and through the years of experience Richard has with net removals, his dive safety briefing emphasised buddy teams and communication.

The team finished their taxing underwater task, and would gladly volunteer over and over again for the benefit of protecting the fragile coral reef!

As with all Downbelow Marine and Wildlife Adventures conservation programs, ‘Ghost Net’ removals are fully sponsored by our operations with logistics and manpower, for which the efforts are regarded invaluable for the sake of our marine life and their habitat.

For information on getting involved in a marine conservation program at our premier PADI 5 Star IDC Dive Centre, get in touch with our Sabah Travel Centre!

Downbelow team organise an underwater proposal!

Thursday, May 14th, 2015 @ 08:00 Dive Kota Kinabalu, News, Tunku Abdul Rahman Park

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Downbelow Marine and Wildlife Adventures staff team organise and underwater proposal for good friends Navin and Felisih!

It was a complete surprise for Felisih, as Navin requested for our team to keep it a secret from her – the plan ‘went off without a hitch’, and of course she accepted his proposal!

The story goes: Managing Director and resident Platinum PADI Course Director Richard Swann, created a story about a ‘Malaysian Ringfish’…get it!?
So, Richard and our dedicated and experienced PADI Instructors, as well as Navin and another friend Calvin (BOTH Instructors too!), guide the unsuspecting Felisih to a hidden ‘treasure box’, which contained the surprise wedding band and a note of sentiment. After inspecting the box for an unusually long time, Navin instructed his beau to open the box finally…before all divers ran out of bottom time!

It was a wonderful day of long-time friends scuba diving, and Richard cooked his special ‘Buried Chicken’ recipe, which was so delicious it was inhaled by both the island staff team and the ladies of Downbelow’s Sabah Travel Centre!

The lovely couple will need to think of something truly amazing that will beat such an awesome proposal as this…maybe climbing Mount Kinabalu…or our very exciting ‘Going Global’ trips, which is currently in its early stages of planning, but it’s happening very soon!

Get in touch with our travel experts to find out more about our near future developments for travel and tours packages to explore beyond Kota Kinabalu, Sabah!

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!

No place like Kota Kinabalu, Sabah, to study marine biology!

Tuesday, March 10th, 2015 @ 08:00 Courses, Diving Kota Kinabalu, News, Tunku Abdul Rahman Park

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Resident Platinum PADI Course Director Richard Swann will attest that there’s no place like Kota Kinabalu, Sabah, to study marine biology, which is why our Fish Identification Specialty course is so popular amongst clients visiting our premier PADI 5 Star IDC Dive Centre!

Our Sabah Travel Centre experts Sarah Jane and Joey want to learn how to identify fish species to increase their marine biology knowledge and new inspiration for their passion in scuba diving. Sarah has been an experienced diver for a few years now, whereas Joey has recently qualified as entry-level PADI Open Water Diver, but they both have a fascination with marine biology in common.

The PADI Fish Identification Specialty Instructor course is also a very popular course that Richard conducts for PADI Instructor candidates completing their dive training to gain the PADI Master Scuba Diver Trainer (MSDT) rating.

Our Instructors themselves have a deep interest in fish identification, whether they are certified to teach the course or not, and really enjoy imparting their knowledge of our local environment. Our Instructor team get to showcase their expertise to regular groups of university students visiting our beach house in TAR marine park, as they spend their time with us conducting surveys of fish counting, coral species. It’s incredibly rewarding to assist the students and fascinating too, as their research indicates the health of our local marine environment.

Get in touch with our Sabah Travel Centre (you can get a firsthand account from Sarah Jane and Joey on their experience!) and create a program that suits you, and/or your group to learn and appreciate the natural biodiversity found in Kota Kinabalu, Sabah!

Commute to work and pass the Queen Mary 2!

Thursday, February 26th, 2015 @ 08:00 Dive Kota Kinabalu, News, Tunku Abdul Rahman Park

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Our island crew decided to leave a little earlier than usual, just to pass the Queen Mary 2 during their commute to work!

Such a moment calls for a selfie, so the island staff team co-ordinated themselves into positions and quickly get a shot before heading over to our premier PADI 5 Star IDC Dive Centre.

Kota Kinabalu is a lively port where many visitors from these luxury cruise liners will disembark to see more of Borneo’s exciting culture and traditions. Because the cruise liners will dock for a certain amount of time to give passengers a chance to sightsee different places, many of the guests who are avid divers visit our beach house for a few days of leisure diving or snorkelling to check out the diversity of the reefs in the Tunku Abdul Rahman Park.

There’s lots more than diving in Kota Kinabalu, such as the famous Mount Kinabalu, which is an approximate 2-hour car journey from KK city centre, and our itineraries to climb the summit trail includes transfers among many other conveniences!

Get in touch with one of our Sabah Travel Centre staff who will arrange a suitable itinerary for your travel plans in Kota Kinabalu, 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!