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Borneo ACT Project – Day 5

Having anchored at Billian Island the previous evening, each of the ‘Watch Groups’ was on duty early this morning. The watch system is pretty much what it sounds like: 4 groups of Young Explorers take shifts monitoring the Pangaea and make sure that we don’t hit shallow ground or other ships. The ‘Anchor Watch’ is a bit different and a lot less exciting; we just had to make sure that the boat stays anchored.

After waking up and having breakfast, we all sat down in the conference room. Equipped with notebooks, pieces of papers and a writing board, we brainstormed, discussed and wrote down all of our ideas for the long-term project and the Pangaea Centre in Borneo. The whole discussion took us about 3 hours, but we were all so into the discussion, and the ideas came so easily that we barely noticed.

An hour or so of sailing later, we arrived at Lankayan, an island that is protected by SIMCA (Sugud Islands Marine Conservation Area) and with that is largely protected from illegal fishing activities, not to mention the YEPs from the Malaysia-Expedition were here as well.

After anchoring in a coral-free area, we quickly got ready for our first dive in between actual corals!

Underwater, everything got a bit chaotic; everyone was excited about all the marine life around us, the fish, the artificial corals… It was really something new.

Everyone practiced all the commands and techniques again, to prevent damaging the corals that we’ll be working around in the upcoming dives, which worked out for the better or the worse. At the end of our dive – our longest one till now – we all got back on the boat, and were free to do what we wanted – most of us were still in the water, riding the Seabobs, jumping from the back of the boat or just making videos and photos.

Another hour passed, and we got back into our rashguards, diving masks and flippers, making for the shallower reef that we could reach without all of our diving gear.

The highlight was definitely when the sharks came; swarming around us as we used an empty plastic bottle to attract them (the sound of a plastic bottle being scrunched up is similar to that of a wounded fish), they always kept a safe distance.

After dinner we left the boat one more time, to visit SIMCA’s center on Lankayan. At the center we got some more information on all the problems that humans cause to the marine life in Borneo, ranging from shark finning to destructive fishing. Lankayan is also a home to a turtle hatchery.

Well, with everyone back on the boat we quickly went to sleep; we were all pretty beat, and we have to get out early tomorrow morning to search for turtle eggs, so let’s just hope the anticipation doesn’t take our sleep!

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