By Teoh Tee Hui
Photos by C.H. Ong and Lai Chong Haur
Sixteen people including three children participated in the MNS Selangor Branch Marine Group’s World Oceans Day event at Pulau Perhentian Besar, including new member Teoh Tee Hui. Here she tells us why she had made the right choice.
I WAS torn between two different dive trips – to choose between picking up rubbish underwater in Perhentian or to dive leisurely in Pulau Tenggol. Somehow, somewhat, I chose to go Perhentian.
Event facilitator Lai Chong Haur picked us up from Petaling Jaya the day before to drive to Kuala Besut. It was an interesting drive as there were the four of us to keep company and we had the second event facilitator Siva Prakash (The Fish Man!) to tell us about fishes and the eco system throughout the drive.
We put up a night in Samudra hostel which was about 5 minutes away from the jetty. The following morning, we met up with the rest of the participants and got to know each other a little better.
There were several leisure dives to have a look at the beauty of the dive sites in Perhentian. This made me feel fortunate to be able to enjoy the beauty that the underwater world was able to offer us…while the corals were still alive.
The first cleanup dive was at this place that was known as the dumping ground around Perhentian. There wasn’t that much rubbish as we had expected. The next dive site was actually near the shore and near a campsite. And yes, there was lots of rubbish to be picked up! I was in Perhentian for a leisure dive just last September; I was never aware how dirty it was until this time round!
We also had a beach cleanup, which was great. It was a fruitful beach cleanup as there was an assortment of items that were picked up – fishing nets, plastic bottles, food wrappers and a lot of cigarette butts.
The marine videos and after-dive briefings were really informative to educate us about how fragile the marine ecosystem is. Cruelty in shark finning and underwater do’s and don’ts reminded us how we should behave in the sea. We had a post-mortem of the cleanups to understand better, how and why this rubbish ended up in the sea and on the beach.
Although the participation was not too great in numbers, we had at least more than eight vacationers who took time off to join us. This created awareness in a small number of people but hey, every journey begins with a single step. We also had little ones who participated in the beach cleanup 🙂 Also, meeting interesting people and camaraderie forged for a common cause.
For sure, I did not regret my decision to pick up rubbish. 🙂
Event co-ordinator’s note: The visibility at the first cleanup site was poor, so after awhile, the divers headed to the second dive site. The cleanup dives were sponsored by Alu Alu Divers. The volunteer holidaymakers emerged from some of the resorts along the 1km-long study area…and with some of the staff members from Bayu Dive Lodge, in total about 30 people participated in the beach cleanup / MNS-MIMA Clean Coast Index study. The data is being tabulated and analysed…results out soon!