S.E.A Aquarium to hold freediving demonstrations to mark World Oceans Day

A freediving demonstration is part of the 10-day conservation-themed festival to mark World Oceans Day, which falls on June 8, 2016.
A freediving demonstration is part of the 10-day conservation-themed festival to mark World Oceans Day, which falls on June 8, 2016.PHOTO: TIFFANY FOR THE STRAITS TIMES
A freediving demonstration is part of the 10-day conservation-themed festival to mark World Oceans Day, which falls on June 8, 2016.
A freediving demonstration is part of the 10-day conservation-themed festival to mark World Oceans Day, which falls on June 8, 2016.PHOTO: TIFFANY FOR THE STRAITS TIMES

SINGAPORE - Visitors to S.E.A Aquarium's Open Ocean Habitat on the weekends between June 17 and 26 will see a diver with no breathing apparatus reading a newspaper 12m underwater.

The freediving demonstration is part of the aquarium's 10-day conservation-themed festival to mark World Oceans Day, a United Nations-recognised day of celebration and action for the ocean, held annually on June 8.

A team of freediving record holders from the Apnea Association of Singapore and Malaysia will be diving 12m without equipment in the Open Ocean Habitat exhibition, which contains 40,000 marine animals ranging across 120 species.

Mirroring aquatic mammals, these divers will resurface periodically for air. This aims to bring home the message that these mammals, which are sometimes entangled in plastic bags and nets when they surface, can suffer difficulty breathing and eating.

One of the divers, Mr Teoh Kim Seng, 33, who started freediving in 2005, said: "I started freediving as a passion. Once, while diving, I came across a tortoise in the water. We both came up for air at the same time. This feeling of connection is why I enjoy it."

Speaking at a media conference at the aquariumn on Tuesday (June7), he added: "I feel it is important to raise awareness through freediving because it allows us to expose the sport to a wider audience."

The aquarium's conservation manager, Ms Kelly Timmins, said: "Freediving is the closest we can get to understanding the life of marine mammals. But unlike these divers, who can attain fresh air on dry land, marine animals are dependent on the ocean, even when its polluted."

The theme for World Oceans Day this year is "Healthy Oceans, Happy Planet".

This is the first time the aquarium is showcasing freediving to mark the day.

Other attractions during the festival include World Oceans Day Photo Gallery, a conservation pledge wall and new species of fish to see in its Hawaii, California and the Caribbean Habitats.

Mr Jason Horkin, senior vice-president of attractions at Resorts World Sentosa, where the aquarium is located, said: "We hope visitors to the S.E.A Aquarium during the 10-day festival will leave inspired to do more to sustain our oceans-for the present and future generations."

Admission to the aquarium costs $32 for adults and $22 for children. The freediving demonstrations are scheduled for every half hour from noon to 2pm in the afternoon.