Gaya Island Resort, YTL Hotels’ luxury property in Malaysian Borneo, has launched the Gaya Island Resort Marine Centre as part of its long-term strategy and vision to help conserve its unique surrounding environment.
Since first opening its doors in July 2012, Gaya Island Resort has made a commitment to leading the community in marine conservation by employing three conservation pillars – Turtle Rescue, Coral Reef Restoration and Conservation Through Education. The marine centre’s programmes were conceptualised and are being implemented by Scott Mayback, the resort’s Resident Marine Biologist.
The Turtle Rescue program will see the rescue, rehabilitation and release of sea turtles that they receive from the Sabah Wildlife Department and other conservation agencies. Injured or sick sea turtles will be provided with a safe environment in which to recover and will be treated with the assistance of Dr Nicholas Pilcher, Founder and Executive Director of the Marine Research Foundation, a non-profit organisation based in Kota Kinabalu, Sabah. Dr Pilcher played an instrumental role in the creation of the marine centre and the recovery and release of Gaya Island Resort’s first sea turtle, fondly named Bobby.
Gaya Island Resort Marine Centre will also champion coral reef restoration. The coral nursery provides an on-land opportunity for guests to become engaged with coral reef conservation. It also provides a controlled environment for freshly planted corals to recover. This initiative is carried out in collaboration with Reef Check Malaysia, a non-profit organisation. Activities include the collection of broken or non-viable coral fragments, their attachment to coral blocks or artificial reef structures, placement in the nursery for observation and their return to the Tunku Abdul Rahman Marine Park to rehabilitate damaged areas.
Gaya Island Resort’s Conservation Through Education program aims to lead by example; by not selling endangered species like sharks and humphead wrasse, but by choosing products that have minimal impact on the environment, and by providing engaging education opportunities for guests and staff to further their appreciation of conservation. The resort has weekly conservation talks, a Marine Biologist For A Day Program and it encourages guests to become involved in future external outreach programs as volunteers or sponsors.
Lastly, providing outreach to the local fishing communities is an essential part of the program. The marine centre will provide training in using less harmful fishing practices, educate the fishermen on the benefits of conservation and implement a recycling programme to reduce floating debris.
Within the Tunku Abdul Rahman Marine Park located off the coast of Kota Kinabalu in Borneo, the Gaya Island Resort rests along the coast of Malohom Bay, a natural sanctuary nestled in the hillside of an ancient rainforest, boasting a stunning outline of Mount Kinabalu on the horizon.