Gayana Marine Resort lends a hand in ghost net underwater cleanup

Gayana Marine Resort Dive & Recreation team cutting lose a bamboo shark from under a ghost net
Gayana Marine Resort Dive & Recreation team cutting lose a bamboo shark from under a ghost net
A diver rescuing a trapped bamboo shark
A diver rescuing a trapped bamboo shark

KOTA KINABALU—Following the discovery of ghost nets in the surrounding waters of the Tunku Abdul Rahman Marine Park (TARP), the Dive and Recreation team of Gayana Marine Resort has also made it its mission to conduct underwater cleanups within its vicinity in Malohom Bay.

During their first ocean cleanup activity, the Gayana Marine Resort team has managed to remove a relatively new ghost net from a dive site in Sepanggar Island. During the initiative, the team has managed to rescue a trapped bamboo shark that was fortunate to still be alive. However, another bamboo shark also found trapped under the ghost net was not as fortunate.

“Initially, the purpose of our dive was only to search of new dive sites to bring our guests to. During our recce, we were shocked to have found patches of corals covered by nets,” said Gayana Marine Resort’s Operations Manager, Alfonso Valirianus. 

The dive team detangling broken coral fragments to be replanted at the resort's MERC facility
The dive team detangling broken coral fragments to be replanted at the resort’s MERC facility

Alfonso added that it was sad to see, otherwise, beautiful and healthy coral reefs being damaged and broken by the weight of the abandoned fishnets. Therefore, some of the living coral fragments entangled in the ghost net, were brought back to the resort’s Marine Ecology Research Centre (MERC) to be replanted.

In its efforts to promote ocean conservation and awareness to the public, Gayana Marine Resort has established the MERC facility in 2007, where the resort’s visitors are given an educational tour, with a video presentation of what is happening in and around Gaya Island and what they can do to make a difference. MERC also invites its visitors to take part in conservation programs, such as coral replanting and adoption, as well as seagrass planting initiative.

In the future, Gayana Marine Resort is also looking into introducing underwater cleanup initiatives to expose resort’s guests more on the effects of unsustainable fishing and uncontrolled usage of single-use plastic items. This package is also targeted towards corporate bodies who are interested to do their corporate and social responsibility (CSR) programme under the MERC facility.

The MERC facility at Gayana Marine Resort
The MERC facility at Gayana Marine Resort

“At the resort, we always strive to inform guests that fishing and wildlife hunting are illegal within the protected Sabah Parks,” says MERC Ambassador, Lizio Mosigil.

“We constantly get questions from new guests whether they can catch their own fish and get them cooked for dinner. But instead of just saying “no”, we take them to our MERC facility and let them see for themselves why we are so passionate about conserving our marine lives,” Lizio added.

In late July, a group of divers successfully fished out 72kg of ghost nets during an underwater cleanup effort targeted at removing unwanted fishnets from the protected Tunku Abdul Rahman Marine Park. Sabah Parks has also launched a scuba diving club, called the ‘Sparks Divers Club’ as an initiative to conserve marine life and coral reefs in all protected marine parks. As a resort facility that thrives on the beauty of the ocean, Gayana Marine Resort gears up on its own initiative as a nod of support for Sabah Parks’ initiative.

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