By Khor Hui Min
Dive in to Earth Day was celebrated in style in Tioman Island, Pahang on 22 April 2006. The ambitious programme was organised by the Marine Group and supported by the Tioman Dive Centre and Sekolah Kebangsaan Kampung Tekek.
Earth Day, a day to celebrate the environment, is currently observed by 120 countries worldwide. It was first celebrated in 1970 and is organised to promote respect for life on Earth and to highlight various concerns about environmental degradation.
“Dive in to Earth Day is an annual event by the Coral Reef Alliance to increase awareness about the marine ecosystem, especially coral reefs,” explained Saras Kumar, a marine biologist and committee member of the Marine Group. “We decided to take it a step further and get our volunteers to work with local volunteers and children. We want to give something back to the local communities.”
To kick off the activities, Marine Group volunteers conducted Reef Check surveys, while introducing new volunteers to the practice of reef checks.
Invited speaker Mr. Yap Kian Fatt of GeohydrOcean Services Sdn. Bhd. was invited to talk to the primary school students about coral reefs and the threats plaguing them.
MNS volunteers and the school’s Kelab Pencinta Alam students and teachers then cleared Tekek beach of rubbish. The headmaster of the school, Encik Kamaluddin bin Suliman, was also there to help in the beach clean up. After lunch, the Kelab Pencinta Alam schoolchildren participated in a badge design competition, where they produced colourful drawings according to the theme of environmental conservation.
“These children have a role to play, but they are not aware of it,” said Encik Kamaluddin. “They think that throwing away one plastic bottle or bag on the beach is nothing, until you take them out to pick it all up. Activities like these make them appreciate the environment and teach them the importance of taking care of their island.”
Bobby Quah, a diver and first-time volunteer with the MNS Marine Group, agreed with Encik Kamaluddin. “It’s good to inculcate the habit of taking care of the environment in children from a young age,” he said.
Hui Min was also a volunteer for the Dive in to Earth Day event and the Marine Group would like to thank her and everyone else who participated for their help in making the weekend a success.