SEASFiRE is a multidisciplinary program aimed at expanding education boundaries and raising awareness for the environmental degradation in many parts of the world. During the spring break of 2016, SAS’s first SEASFiRE group carried out marine research and other conservation activities in the island of Borneo, home to numerous key species are not found anywhere else in the world.
The Borneo rainforest is the center of many endemic species of plants and animals, and is one of the few remaining habitats for the Bornean orangutan. The ocean surrounding the island also houses one of the most diverse coral reefs in the world, with many aquatic animals relying on this submerged haven for food and shelter. However, in recent years, the planting of palm oil vegetation has resulted in deforestation, loss of habitat for species, and environmental pollution. As more land is cleared away to make space for cash crop cultivation, the biodiversity that once existed in the region has slowly disappeared, leading to disastrous consequences on Bornean wildlife.
During the 11-day trip in Malaysia, our group participated in several activities including:
-Scuba diving training
-Coral reef checkup
-Diving against debris
-Visits to the Proboscis Monkey Sanctuary, Sea Turtle Sanctuary, and
Sepilok Orangutan Sanctuary.
-Media and digital endeavors
Our aim as a SEASFiRE team is to highlight the biodiversity of Borneo’s ecosystem and to raise awareness of the destruction occurring within the region. Our SAS SEASFiRE website (www.seasfire.org/sas2016/) is being build presently and offers a portal to the wildlife that exists in the area and allows a glimpse into what we experienced during our time in Borneo. We hope that students will learn about the importance of this natural wonder and become more aware of our impact on the environment. Along with the website our team will be producing a marinade of different media, both digital and print that we will use to inform our SAS community of the situation and what we can all do personally to help preserve this ecological world heritage.