Poni Divers to offer new coral propagation course

National 2 minutes, 17 seconds

BANDAR SERI BEGAWAN

PONI Divers is set to offer a new coral propagation course to the wider public as part of its long-term marine conservation programme.

 Wong Thye Sing, managing director of the five-star instructor development dive centre, said the course is slated to run later this year and draw participation from youth, schools as well as non-governmental organisations.

He explained Poni Divers was authorised to conduct the course in Brunei following an agreement to partner with Sea Shepherd Dive, a global network to promote ethical diving.

“We hope to be able to involve the public more in our marine conservation efforts, to get divers to be actively involved with us in protecting the oceans as we give them the tools to make a difference and also have support from an international organisation,” he said.

According to Sea Shepherd Dive, coral reefs are some of the most diverse ecosystems on the planet, supporting more species per unit area than any other marine environment.

However, the organisation warned that the health of coral reefs around the world is in serious decline with latest reports stating as much as 27 per cent of monitored reef formations have been lost mainly due to human activity.

“Many are now looking for solutions to this issue in face of what is an unfolding environmental disaster. One such solution is coral propagation,” said Sea Shepherd Dive on its website.

In a bid to engage communities worldwide to save corals reefs, the organisation recently developed a course for its partners in collaboration with Ocean Quest, a leading Malaysian-based organisation specialising in all-natural coral propagation methods.

Wong said the course will teach divers to respond in the aftermath of a “negative event” afflicted on coral reefs.

“So it includes things like how to rescue damaged corals by plugging it back in or turning it over, taking into account the number of crown of thorns and whether they should be moved away or not,” he explained.

Participants will also learn to identify resilient corals to be used in the broodstock nursery and propagated back into the reef, which minimises the impact of future bleaching on coral reefs.

“We are always happy to hear from schools and clubs who want to be involved. Non-divers can do land activities such as coral gluing and snorkelling. Kids 10 years and above are welcome to join,” said Wong, adding that Poni Divers is also looking for corporate sponsors.

Brunei alone is home to 410 reef-building coral species, which shelters a rich fish diversity of 711 species.

 The Ministry of Primary Resources and Tourism estimated the potential value of the sultanate’s coral reefs at $6 million annually, but cautioned “their beauty could be marred by their fragility and susceptibility to damaging threats”.

The Brunei Times