Beauty, Brains and Fish Balls: Mina Karin

Mina is an all-rounder when it comes to life around the ocean. Previously afraid of the water, she faced her fears head on by learning to swim, scuba dive and freedive.  Mina is now a certified PADI Instructor.

This chick has some brains and wits to go with her pretty Instagram selfies — she is very dedicated to marine conservation and has been spearheading quite a few projects in Brunei.

Full Name: Aminah Faizah Kaharuddin
Known As: Mina
Age: 23
Nationality: Bruneian
Profession: Environment Officer and PADI Instructor at Poni Divers
Years Diving: Started scuba in 2013

Freediving in 2016

Certification: PADI (Scuba Dive) Instructor

Discovery freediving (basic freediving)

Social Media: @monamina29 (Instagram)

/minakarin (Facebook)

Affiliations: Sea Shepherd Dive (Asia), Ocean Quest (Malaysia), Poni Divers (Brunei), BSc Oceanography (University of Southampton, UK).
Donning a baju kurung, the Malay traditional dress, during a Hari Raya (Eid Al Fitr) dive in 2015.

So you’re an Oceanographer.  What is that? I am a scientist studying the physical, chemical, geological and biological processes within the Earth’s oceans. I personally enjoy the physical oceanography side where I look into the waves, currents, ocean circulation, tides, sediment transport, coastal processes, etc. It is interesting to observe how these processes will influence the biological bits of the ocean such as the bloom of phytoplankton, fish supply, and coral reef growth.

I get to lower instruments into the ocean to measure various parameters and be out there in the dynamic environment, which is an amazing office to have. My knowledge in oceanography is proven to be very useful for the marine conservation efforts that I have been involved with, and many more projects that I am planning ahead.

What got you into doing what you do (swimming, scuba or freediving) and how are you able to do so? I could not swim before and had a serious phobia of big water bodies. Previously, getting into the water taxi in the water village actually had me crying because I was so scared of it. But I have always longed for the ocean. I think it all started from watching the ocean episodes from the National Geographic when I was younger – I enjoyed doing so with my dad. My ex-boyfriend is a diver and he introduced me to the ocean by taking me out snorkelling and taught me how to swim in the pool. I eventually took up scuba diving and it changed my life since.  The beauty of the ocean led me to pursue my studies in Oceanography.

Freediving is not as easy as I thought it would be; I have an issue with the equalizing bit as I go down deeper than 10m. So I have not improved on that yet – but I need to! My freediving fins have been sitting idly.

I took up my entire diving course in Brunei but have taken some specialties overseas, such as the PADI Basic Archaeological Diver that I completed in the UK, Reef Check EcoDiver and PADI Reef Surveyor in the Philippines.

Personally, which do you prefer? Scuba diving or freediving? At the moment, I think it is scuba because I have not overcome the issue of equalising in freediving. Both are actually very different and freediving can be more demanding that scuba as it is really about controlling your mind – to relax and trust your own body and ability. Scuba has A LOT of equipment; but at the end of the day you only use and rely on these when you go into the ocean.

Where have been the best places you’ve scubadived or freedived in (your personal favourites)? I have been fortunate to have been able to dive in many of the world’s best dive sites.  These include Malaysia, Thailand, Indonesia, Philippines, Gibraltar, Spain, UK, Luconia (one of the Spratly Islands in the South China Sea) and Maldives.

My personal favourite for scuba is the Blue Water Wreck in Brunei/Labuan border. It is so amazing!  It has great visibility, huge wreck intact and plenty of fish to the point that you can hardly see your diving buddies in the water.

The best for snorkeling/freediving for me has to be the Maldives. There are a lot of turtles, clear water and a massive array of marine life.

Where do you consider the best sites to dive in Brunei? I think Abana is gorgeous—the coral population there is highly diverse as there is a great mix of hard and soft corals. The reef is absolutely colourful, and the garden of whip corals there is just amazing. For artificial reef, it has to be Bolkiah Wreck—it is a wreck just off the coast of Jerudong.  It has great visibility, hardly any current, is not too deep (around 22-24m only) and the sea fans there are huge and vibrant. You’re given the impression that the wreck is alive as there is also an abundance of fish there.


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