SUBANG: While many may find it unimaginable to dive despite being visually-impaired, Steven Looi is living proof that it’s not impossible.
He will be among 30 divers with disabilities who will help in marine conservation by planting corals in waters around Pulau Perhentian on July 20.
Looi, 35, said he obtained his diving licence at Pulau Tioman last year after he met another swimmer who encouraged him to try diving.
“At first, of course, I was anxious.
“But when I put the equipment on and went into the water, I felt really peaceful and at ease,” he said when approached at the People with Disabilities Marine Discovery Dive 2017 – which helps empower people with disabilities.
In June last year it was reported that some coral reefs at local diving spots have started to show signs of bleaching due to rising temperatures.
The coral reefs affected, according to the Marine Park Department, were at Pulau Redang in Terengganu, Pulau Payar in Kedah, Pulau Tinggi and Pulau Sibu in Johor and Pulau Tioman in Pahang, among others.
Looi said he depended a lot on his hearing when he dives.
“Under water, you can hear a lot of strange noises, the sound of the fish swimming and the sound of boat engines,” he said, adding this would be the first time he was helping with coral planting.
Looi said he relies on his dive instructor – with whom he communicates via hand signals – to keep him safe.
“When I am diving, I cannot see the oxygen level and that sometimes bothers me,” he said.
“But I can communicate with my instructor and I will just point to my regulator if there is something wrong.”
Another diver, Ng Ah Keat, 54, who will be joining the diving event for the fourth time, said she was excited to be part of the initiative.
“We have been training for the last three months,” said Ng, who is wheelchair-bound.
Senator Bathmavathi Krishnan, the founding president of the Association of Women With Disabilities Malaysia, said they wanted to empower the disabled to participate in sporting activities.
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