Check out all the exciting things that have been happening at the Penida Project the last few months!


We were lucky to welcome dive professional and filmmaker, Pedro Mederos to the Penida Project back in June 2019. He stayed with us over 10 days learning and filming our project. After a few months the editing was completed and we are happy to release this short film about Indo Ocean Project titled “Everything Is Connected”.

 Serena Stean – Penida Project Manager

Since the last update an additional 5 PADI Divemasters have been certified in Nusa Penida and we are proud to have sent even more amazing professionals into the diving world. So a huge congratulations to; Jess, Vic, Emily, Luc, Camille! That’s a total of 45 Divemasters certified at the Nusa Penida Headquarters. 

In terms of diving activities the high season is now coming to an end and the waters are beginning to warm up again, so hopefully less 16 degree dives at Toyapakeh and Crystal Bay! It’s been an incredible season for sightings of molas, hammerhead sharks, thresher sharks, wobbegongs, whale sharks and even THAT day that the Nomads manager Ady saw a GREAT WHITE! The mantas down on the south side of the island have continued to exhibit mating behaviours so it won’t be long now until the big fat pregnant mommas disappear off to give birth. 

Since the last update 25 environmental specialty courses have been completed in Marine Ecology, Shark Ecology, Manta Ray Conservation, Sea Turtle Ecology and Coral Reef Identification, as well as additional specialties such as the fantastically fun Deep Diving Specialty, completed by many of our graduates. Penida reefs really are one of the best places to explore below 30m. We’ve also added a new Mola Conservation presentation to our ever growing list of workshops for our interns to enjoy.

Our ongoing mapping project has gained a new addition for Dans Reef Dive Site and you can check out the updates at Next up will be a detailed map of our new CoralWatch project that Pascal will explain further, another addition to our growing science activities. Dan’s Reef continues to delight in so many ways and a brand new BRUV project has been set up there and will run for the next 12 months.

We were all super pleased to finally get our artificial reef structure in the water in front of Nomads Diving, a true staff team effort was needed to get her in place and now we are waiting for the final materials needed to begin our coral restoration project. Our friends from Conservation Diver visited and all of our interns loved learning from them, this will hopefully continue to be an annual visit as what could be better than nerds surrounded by more nerds!

The Turtle ID Project continues to grow in size and contributions as our interns headed over to our neighbouring island Nusa Lembongan to distribute the turtle posters around shops there. With the support of neighbouring dive centres we have strong hopes this project will continue to grow and we can start analysing the data soon. 

Our continuing partnerships with Nomads Diving, Ceningan Divers, Scuba Junkie Penida, Freedive Nusa, Reeflex and the local school means we now have over 1500 mangrove babies growing on Nusa Penida and our visitors from Bamboo will continue to plant them out every few months alongside our divemaster interns.

With our second permanent project now up and running in Bira with Blue Planet Dive Resort there is never a dull moment working for Indo Ocean Project and I cannot wait to get over there in December and check it all out! 


Pascal Sebastian – Lead Marine Biologist 

As I have finished the Bunaken Project, I am very delighted to bring home the successful results from Bunaken National Park. We thank our interns: Julian, Nadia, Amelia, Stephanie, Ana, Celine, Savanna and Charlotte who made this happened. The data is important as a representative of a marine protected area of Indonesia. It gives a comparison results to our ongoing project in Nusa Penida and Tanjung Bira. I will be working on developing a formal report and projects that were developed in Bunaken are already being used in Penida and Bira. I myself am very happy to get back to work as a Lead Marine Biologist in Nusa Penida.

We have successfully launched our latest scientific project collaboration to monitor our reef health with CoralWatch ( at our study site of Dan’s Reef as an extension of our Coral Mapping & Biodiversity Project.

Ranged in around 5 – 10 m deep our team has randomly tagged 20 colonies of coral to be monitored over a long term study period. This study compliments our Coral Ecology and Identification course allowing our interns to have hands on practical experience with species identification down to the genus level. We are also able to track the coral in our MPA to learn more about threats due to climate change and coral diseases. It is important to the global monitoring of coral reefs.

We have produced 68 BRUV’s to date, with considerable interesting results! The latest drop right in our home reef (Dan’s Reef) is extended to be an independent project that we have deployed 11 BRUV with two variation of depth (15 and 25 m). Our interns always enjoy the drop especially getting really excited when the resident red snappers are around to prey on our fresh mackerel bait. We have realized a massive biodiversity index of teleostean and elasmobranch sightings around Dan’s reef as we have footage of Thresher Sharks, Brown Banded Bamboo Shark, White Tip Reef Shark, Tahitian Stingray and some of rare indicator species on the BRUV. With more analysis, we are working to take Dan’s Reef into research publications.

As we love to conserve the ocean, Indo Ocean Project continues to take part in the International Coral Reef Initiative (ICRI). In September, we attended a workshop hosted by Coral Triangle Center in Bali by Mr. Tadashi Kimura from the National University of Singapore. The aim of this workshop is to standardize all the data sampling of Live Coral Cover and how to submit the result to be incorporated into global data. The members of this forum have committed to contribute the data to yield a global result representing Indonesia and South-East Asia coral reef health status.

Novie Bahri – Community Outreach Manager

We have built out 6th mangrove nursery at SMPN-1 Nusa Penida, our local elementary school with 200 propagule plots. We spent the afternoon in the school where I conducted a workshop in Bahasa Indonesia to educate the students about the importance of mangroves and why we need to protect them on our island.  This was the first event we have had at our local school and both the teachers and students were very excited about this new project. The enthusiasm for mangroves and marine conservation was exactly what we wanted and I believe we created new ocean warriors on this day.

We currently have a total of 1,832 baby mangroves throughout 5 nurseries in the Nusa islands. We transplanted 350 healthy Rhizophora mangroves with 4-6 leaves in October around Cenningan Dive Resort on the neighbouring islands mangrove forest.  

Next month we are building our 7th mangrove nursery with the help from the eco travel group Bamboo at Temple Dive in Nusa Penida. Working together to make our island carbon negative!

Victor – Lead intern on the Mola Mola project

Like all good things, mola season is coming to an end. There are still a few sightings through to the end of October but with the waters rising above 25 degrees sightings of this ocean giant will be few and far between. The next season should start around mid July 2020.

This season has been rich in sightings with no less than 62 sightings from Nomads Diving along and more than 30 ID shots collected around the Nusa islands.

A good ID shot must respect the following criteria:

  • Left or right full body profile high resolution images
  • Dive site name
  • Date of sighting
  • Depth of sighting
  • Temperature at sighting
  • Behaviour
  • Name of photographer

Our 30 ID shots will be submitted to Bali Sun Fish with all the abiotic and biotic data for the season as well as logged into Indo Ocean Project’s database to compared with next season. Currently has more than 800 individual mola counted in their database and has been tracking local sightings since 2013.

ID shot collected this season are used for species identification, individual identification and recognition, and injury rate assessment to cross compare mola sighting frequency throughout different seasons. The abiotic data paired with each sightings helps to compare the relative number of sunfish sighted over time irrespective of the number of divers around to spot them. This data also allows scientists insights into sunfish aggregations in relation to oceanographic phenomena such as El Nino events.

If you would like to learn more about this project check out the website