The ocean is still somewhat of a mystery for us. Its blue-green and sometimes blue-brown colours may enchant us, and we may know that it is filled with many aquatic species, but as it’s always far away from us, we fail to grasp how important it is, and how our actions are affecting the underwater ecosystem.
One woman aims to raise awareness about it—by swimming.
Come May 28th, Malaysian performer and emcee Davina Goh will embark on the Raleigh Round Island Challenge, which will see her swimming for more than 9km around the beautiful Pulau Perhentian Besar within 11 hours. Her goal is to raise funds for two NGOs related to marine protection: Reef Check Malaysia and Marecet.
Davina has been swimming for a long time, but this doesn’t mean that she’s not wary about being in the open waters for hours. “I’m [wary] about the heat and I’ve been told that the currents are very strong,” she tells us. “But the first point of safety is to grab on to the kayak. We also have boats that are looking out for our swimming space.”
Image: Vignes Balasingam
While she has good stamina, she admits that she is working on building up her mental fortitude. “When you’re looking at the bottom of the pool for hours, you’ll be all ‘Get me out!’ I did my first 9km in the pool and I was going nuts not because I was tired, but my body ached, my nose stung and my teeth felt rough. The water started to feel like jelly.”
A passionate environmentalist, Davina is no stranger to seeing the beauty of Malaysian waters. As a child, she used to visit the islands with her family and snorkel. Recently, she revisited those spots and discovered that none of the islands look the same anymore. “The ocean isn’t as blue and the corals are colourless,” she explains. “There are only a few places to look for corals and fishes. You don’t see as many fishermen out in the sea.”
A trip to the island of Tioman further convinced her how irresponsible people can be when it comes to taking care of the waters. “I went to a marine park that’s supposed to be protected,” she tells us plaintively. “There were boatmen throwing cigarettes into the water and on the ground. You see plastic everywhere—this is no different than a polluted beach elsewhere. It was so disheartening. What needs to happen for people to stop doing that?”
Image: Davina Goh
But not all hope is gone. Two years ago, she returned to Tioman and went on a free dive. There, she was amazed by the beauty of a humongous coral reef. “You could swim around [it] and if you were daring enough, you could even go under it. Red, blue and orange—I remember it being one of the highlights of my trip.” She believes that the corals may still be there.
Not many people are aware how important coral reefs are. While it takes up less than 0.1%
of the world’s ocean floor, it’s also home to over a million species—some which are still undiscovered. And when their home is taken away, the species will cease to exist. “People don’t realise that everything is connected. What we’re doing right now in our comfortable homes affects everything, including the oceans.” Not only will there be less cute otter videos and whale sightings, we would deprive ourselves from food and people who work in marine-related jobs will lose their livelihood.
“Malaysians need to learn how to swim,” she says. “Because then you’ll get to see for yourself what’s at stake. It’s not just a survival skill—it will open your eyes and mind.”
Kick start your awareness by checking out our handy infographic below about coral reefs:
Image: Rojak Daily
Make a Pledge Today!
To make a pledge on Davina's cause, click here
To find out more about Reef Check Malaysia, click here
To learn more about Marecet, click here