Following the success of the first [email protected] programme in Perhentian Islands this year, next year, we’re going bigger and better.
We will run a twelve-day programme in Sabah, Malaysian Borneo, from 12 to 23 July 2017. Participants will learn to dive, or continue their dive education through SEASFiRE and PADI dive specialties. Throughout the program, participants will publish regular updates and their research outcomes on the SEASFiRE website. Click here for the day-by-day schedule.
How Does It Work?
The program is split into three distinct phases:
- Dive/Conservation Training
- Rainforest Conservation and Wildlife Expeditions
- Coral Reef Conservation
Participants will be divided into two groups (trainee divers and certified divers) for the first phase of the trip, after which they will reunite. All participants will complete dive theory, tropical reef and rainforest biology, research methods, conservation, and online publication.
Each participant will be expected to blog, photograph and video their experiences on the expedition. We intend to record and publish a podcast with team members about the programme. In the evenings, the teams will gather to complete training, and produce reports on the projects and training that they have completed.
- Underwater photography
- Marine Life Identification
- Marine Debris
- The Jungles of Borneo
- Coral Reef Biodiversity
- Sea Turtle Conservation
Materials will be provided to all participants well in advance of the programme.
Days two to five of the programme are given over to dive training. Participants who do not know how to dive will be taught the PADI Open Water course, after which they will be certified to dive with a buddy to a maximum depth of 18 metres anywhere on the planet. Participants who are already scuba divers will complete further dive training and education in support of the program’s learning goals.
Participants who are already certified divers will receive buoyancy training, with a specific focus on underwater photography. They will complete the PADI Underwater Naturalist specialty course and receive marine Life identification training.
Click here to find out more about the training provided.
Rainforest Conservation & Wildlife Expeditions
Once the Dive/Conservation training is complete, we will travel across Borneo to visit a number of conservation areas and animal sanctuaries. You will witness first-hand the levels of deforestation on the island. Seeing the extent of the palm oil plantations in Sabah really brings home the message of the Jungles of Borneo module. We will visit the following areas:
Labuk Bay Proboscis Monkey Sanctuary
Named for their distinctive long noses, the proboscis monkey is endemic to Borneo. Their habitat has been systematically destroyed over the past 40 years, and the population has shrunk by about 50% in that time. Labuk Bay Proboscis Monkey sanctuary is a small haven hemmed in by several palm oil estates. Due to the small size of the sanctuary and the deforestation of the surrounding area, natural food sources are scarce. Monkeys are given fruit to supplement their diet by staff at the sanctuary. This isolated population of monkeys has survived and thrived as a result. How sustainable this sanctuary is in the longer-term remains to be seen.
limited number of tourists are allowed to stay on the island, where they can observe turtles laying eggs and hatchlings being released into the ocean. Turtles that visit the island are tagged for research purposes.
Part of the Sukau-Kinabantangan Wildlife Sanctuary, staying at a lodge on the Kinabantangan river will enable participants to complete river cruises and a night walk, spotting wildlife near the river banks. In the past, we have spotted orangutans in nests, pythons, proboscis monkeys and pygmy elephants.
Sepilok Orangutan Rehabilitation Centre
Sepilok orangutan sanctuary was established in 1964 to rehabilitate orphaned orangutans. The site is 43km2 of protected land. There are between 60 and 80 orangutans living free on the site, and another 25 orphaned orangutans occupy the nursery. The centre also nurses injured orangutans and other wildlife back to health. Orphans are teamed with an adult to learn the vital skills they would learn from their mother in the wild. In its first 50 years, Sepilok received 758 orangutans. Of these, over 600 have been successfully rehabilitated, with 500 released into the local reserve.
Coral Reef Conservation
We’ll return to Kota Kinabalu for the last stage of the trip, where we will compete coral reef conservation and research.
You’ll be able to contribute to growing new coral reefs! You will take fragmented coral pieces and attach them to concrete balls, which will then be placed underwater in an area where conditions are favourable to coral regrowth.
Coral Health Check
Coral bleaching is one of the most dramatic illustrations of environmental pressures on a coral colony. Coral’s colour is a good proxy for more general coral health. Using a coral health chart and a data slate, the participants will record observations on at least 20 coral colonies on a coral reef. All data collected is submitted to the CoralWatch programme, which is run by the University of Queensland.
Critter ID Dive
Each participant will be tasked with photographing, then identifying and documenting at least one creature during this dive. They will input data about the organism into the SEASFiRE marine life database.
One of the highlights of the dive expedition is a truly unique experience – the SEASFiRE art dive. We take the participants to a shallow reef and ask them to draw the corals and fish they see. No-one else in the world offers this experience, and it is always one of the most fun and memorable parts of the expedition.
Plastics Beach Survey
Of the six million tons of trash that enters the ocean each year, 50 to 80 per cent of it is plastic. Plastic is clogging up our seas and entering the marine food chain. Because it takes hundreds of years for plastic to degrade, it washes up everywhere. We will conduct a survey onshore to establish the amount of plastic on a beach on Gaya Island. Unlike other surveys, this will be carried out along a particular transect. The data collected can be entered into the SEASFiRE marine debris database.
Beach cleanup/Snorkel cleanup
Participants will travel to a beach or other area of the island, possibly snorkelling to an inaccessible area to clean up trash that has been washed ashore. We will document the debris we remove and submit this data to Project AWARE for use in their global marine debris database.
Costs & Inclusions
The program costs include accommodation, breakfast and lunch each day, all media requirements including cameras, web packages, and travel between Kota Kinabalu and the other destinations visited by the programme team. Dinner will be provided when outside Kota Kinabalu. When in KK, a RM 20 stipend will be given for dinner, which will easily cover a local meal. All dive and conservation activities listed above are also included.
The cost per participant is US$2,000, RM 8,000 or £1,600 GBP.
We can help to arrange flights and transportation to Kota Kinabalu from wherever you live at extra cost.
Contact us to register your interest or ask for more information.