Celebrating World Oceans Day 2017 with La Mer
Into the blue
By their very name, La Mer is 'the sea'. At the heart of every La Mer product is the precious Miracle Broth, a potent blend of nutrient-rich Pacific sea kelp fermented with other natural ingredients, created by Dr. Max Huber. It was the discovery of this perfect mix of ingredients (that took some 12 years and 6,000 experiments) from which Crème de la Mer was born. Inspired by the underwater world and the treasures it holds, it is little wonder then that La Mer celebrates and continues to support the protection of our oceans.
Celebrated annually on June 8, World Oceans Day puts the focus firmly on the importance of our oceans and on ocean conservation, and protection. This year, thanks to La Mer, I was given the opportunity to dive with Julian Hyde, General Manager of Reef Check Malaysia, at Tenggol Island, off the East coast of Peninsula Malaysia. "I started scuba diving when I was a kid and absolutely loved it," says Julian. "I dived more regularly when I started working, then 20 years ago, I moved to Malaysia and spent about six years running a dive centre in Tioman."
"These days, I dive for a different reason. Conservation has become increasingly important to me and I feel very strongly about us doing what we can to conserve the underwater world, and nature in general. The oceans provide so many things we can't live without: the oceans produce most of the oxygen we breathe; fish are an important source of food protein; and livelihoods—most of the jobs on Tioman island where I lived, rely on marine-based tourism, which means the whole economy of the island revolves around healthy oceans."
During our dives at different spots around Tenggol Island, which we had the luxury of having all to ourselves, Julian pointed out different types of fish, invertebrates and substrates that Reef Check typically keeps track of, showed me how to spot signs of coral growth, as well as to estimate the number of fish in each passing school. As a diver, I thoroughly enjoyed these dives as it gave me a greater understanding of our reefs and what I was looking at, and it was encouraging to see that the reefs around Tenggol Island were generally healthy and apart from some tangled up fishing ropes and weights we picked up (which shouldn't have been there in the first place, given Tenggol Island is located within the Terengganu Marine Park where fishing is not allowed), the dive spots we visited were largely free of trash.
"Every year we (Reef Check Malaysia) go to sites around Malaysia and look at indicators of change—in the number of fish and coral, and we can usually identify why these changes have happened," says Julian. "The causes are usually too many tourists, and too much pollution. We use that information to design activities and programmes that people can join, that we can do with resort operators, divers and tourists. Everybody can get involved to try identify the problems that are affecting the ocean and do something about it."
Personally, I feel divers have a bigger role to play in ocean conservation as we're the ones who see underwater damage firsthand, which in some cases, unfortunately, is caused by badly behaved divers. As someone who used to teach divers, Julian tells me he's strict with them. "I like to see people diving well, and trained well, because it's a fragile environment. If you're going into the ocean, think of it as someone's home: treat it with respect. Don't damage it, leave it as you found it, have good buoyancy control, and make sure you're not leaving trash around. The underwater world, coral reefs, fish, turtles are not cartoon characters—they're all part of this immensely complex world, and I always try to get people to understand that fragility and complexity so they can better understand what they're getting involved in. Divers themselves have a big role to play in this."
On our way back to the shore, I came across a large pail and some plastic bags floating in the water, which I brought back with us to be disposed of properly. "Some people might not ever come to the beach, let alone snorkel or dive and hence might not understand or realise the impact their actions have on our oceans," says Julian. "We can start by reducing usage of plastic bags and plastic straws, turning off the tap while brushing your teeth, switching off lights and air-conditioning when you leave a hotel room. Everyone has a role to play and small changes in daily habits can make a huge change in conservation."
Watch highlights of our dive trip below:
Today, La Mer increases its ocean protection efforts by introducing the La Mer Blue Heart Oceans Fund, with a focus on supporting Marine Protected Areas and strengthening La Mer's ongoing ocean conservation efforts around the globe. "We are thrilled to be launching the La Mer Blue Heart Oceans Fund and are honoured to join a change-making community of explorers, advocates and hands-on conservationists that are making a difference all over the world," says Sandra Main, Global Brand President, La Mer. In support of this cause, La Mer will be hosting an art auction in partnership with ocean conservation organisation, Project 0, where 100% of net proceeds from the auction of 50 works of art will benefit the La Mer Blue Heart Oceans Fund and Project 0.
Also available from La Mer, is the collector's edition of the Crème de la Mer, a limited-edition jar with a special design that pays homage to the oceans. The limited-edition Blue Heart Crème de la Mer is available now at all La Mer counters at RM1,890 for 100ml. Click here to find out more.
Videography: Groundhouse Media
Location: Tanjong Jara Resort