A spring clean with a difference in Malaysia has helped a group of divers enter the history books for the longest underwater clean-up. Organised by a local media company, the Astro Kasih conservation project took place in Sabah's Tunku Abdul Rahman park and ran for 168 consecutive hours. The operation saw 134 Malaysian and international volunteer divers take part with a total of 3,099 kg of rubbish gathered from the seabed.
Under the rules for the record, participants were required to dive consecutively taking turns from one team to the other, with at least one diver required to be actively collecting waste from the water throughout the duration of the attempt. A total of 1,560kg of plastics, 140kg of glass and ceramics, 318kg of metal and 357kg of rubber and cloth, were picked up during the attempt.
Participants from France, Australia, New Zealand, United Kingdom, US, Lithuania, Switzerland, Hong Kong and the Netherlands took part in the attempt, performing a total of 1,120 dives in the marine park. Talking after the operation, British diver Krystle Stevens said she was proud to have taken part in the record-breaking clean-up, and was amazed by the beautiful beaches and rich marine life of Sabah see had observed during the attempt, but was also left surprised by the amount of rubbish that the divers discovered. "It has been a tiring but fulfilling week as we have finally completed this effort and helped make it into the World Guinness record but I was really saddened to see so much rubbish especially at dive sites near settlements within the Tunku Abdul Rahman marine park,"she said.
After being presented with an official Guinness World Records certificate confirming the team's achievement by adjudicator Kirsty Bennett, Chief Executive Officer of Astro Dato Rohana Rozhan said, "By coming together and embracing the Malaysia "Boleh" spirit, and our commitment towards a Beautiful Malaysia, we have not only achieved a new Guinness World Records title, but also raised awareness of the legacy we leave to our kids, a beautiful Malaysia that we are all privileged to grow up in. Most importantly also, we have seen new friendships and camaraderie formed."
Playing their part in the clean-up had clearly been a rewarding project for the divers involved. Speaking after the presentation, diver Captain Kumaran Balakrishnan said that the Astro Kasih attempt had been by far his most fulfilling experience in his 30 years of diving, "As a diving instructor who spent most of the time in the ocean, I am glad that I am able to do my part for the environment. Thumbs up Astro for a job well done".