Volunteerism: Conservation Work& Ghost Net Removal at Taman Laut Melaka

My buddies and I were invited for a conservation program by Jabatan Perikanan Melaka (DOF Melaka) last month and it is finally scuba diving day again after a month taking a break from doing any underwater clean up work due to the fasting month of Ramadan. It’s really nice to be back doing underwater clean up, I must say. This is my fifth time volunteering as an underwater cleaner at this dive site. There were other teams involved in their program, one is ghost net removal while another one is the coral propagation works. The mission for me and buddies after one month of hiatus;  removing the ghost nets at Pulau Undan in Taman Laut Melaka. I wouldn’t be talking about other teams in this posting as I was not involved in their work in any way, and it wouldn’t do justice to write things that I did not experience myself. I mean, I shouldn’t take credit for the things that I did not do now, should I?

So here’s sharing the bits of things that me and my buddies did during the program; removing ghost nets.

Here’s my buddies Adam and Farid with the ghost net that we managed to cut off and bring up to the surface during our first dive.

Nasty piece of ghost net, isn’t it?

This particular piece is not easy to remove and bring up. Unlike mermaiding where everything is so chillaxing and beautiful, removing ghost nets is extremely unglamorous. Out of 5 times I’ve done ghost nets at Pulau Undan, Melaka, there were no pictures or videos of me or my buddies doing work underwater. Why? Cuz if I’m leading the team or if I’m coordinating the team, I always place a ban on cameras whenever we’re executing our missions. If you’re diving with me while doing clean up work, photography is a strict no. Divers who are photographers hate my gut, I kid you not. 😂

Why do we ban cameras? Unlike doing clean up works in an aquarium-like environment, diving in a low vis-high current environment to do clean up works is actually terrible. Even more so if we’re in ghost nets areas where we face the risks of being entangled in the nets. To date, the best vis my team got is usually just 1m max. That’s on good days. On bad days, we’re practically…well…you know, groping around to find ghost nets to bring up.

We can’t afford to be distracted even for 1 second. Just about anything can happen in 1 second in these sites that we usually work on. Pretty sad, you know. There are times I wish I could show off how wonderful all the buddies I’ve worked with and how efficiently they have done their part, but no… it’s not possible. At least not without compromising on the safety aspect of our mission. Even if we had a dedicated photographer to follow us around, the photographer too would be at risk of getting trapped in ghost nets while videoing us and stuff. So definitely a no no.

This round we only managed to bring these up during our first dive. And a few more ghost nets are not in the picture cuz by the time we managed to bring em up, we were already too exhausted to even think straight, what more thought of taking pics.

That said, it was a particularly extreme dive in comparison to our previous dives over here this round. Super high surface and underwater current. I was assuming a safety diver role during that dive and I must say it was not really fun.
Thankfully my team is trained to handle situations like this well, or SAR mission would have been in order if they’re less competent divers. 🤧.

These are my dive buddies…my teammates during our conservation work at Taman Laut Melaka organized by DOF Melaka. We were part of the ghost net removal team. They’re the sort of people who quietly get the job done without asking for credits. I know some people questioned the ghost net team’s efficiency and competency in getting the job done, but they don’t know any better and I never once doubted their skills, not even for a moment. The group pic are the dudes I dive with during the program:

Cikgu Fariz
Abang Syam Cino
Abang Rocky
Adam Lau
Mohd Farid

So here I am, saying thank you for being great team players. Thank you for all your hard work. Thank you for being such great buddies. Without all of you, I wouldn’t be able to dive safely in such a challenging site and I wouldn’t be able to complete the tasks assigned to me with ease. I am grateful for my team. They’re the best I could ask for. Thank you team, for being such team players. Thank you for all your hard work. Thank you for taking care of me. And thank you for being safe.

Disclaimer: We were invited by DOF Melaka and we were not representing or associated with any profit/non-profit organization or any non-governmental bodies during this program. We are individual volunteers and are self-funded. We were not paid to do the conservation work, and received nothing in compensation for our efforts.

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