Lauren Sparks – Founding Director
Our bimonthly report has been postponed 1 month due to everyone being very busy! On February 10th we FINALLY relaunched our Bira Project! In January we welcomed staff members Marco and Jeffri at the Penida Project to complete their training before we all made the trip up to Makasar and to Blue Planet Dive Resort in Bira. After 3 attempts since closing due to the pandemic in March 2020 we welcomed 6 interns back to the project and successfully relaunched. The first few months of a new project are an exciting time as research is organized and divers are trained, but in the first 2 weeks we started deploying BRUV’s and the interns complete the fish identification workshops in record time helping us to kickstart our data collection.

Meanwhile at the Penida Project we welcomed our most number of interns at once! 15 incredible research divers joined us in December/January and our family grew. We are also happy to welcome Romy as program coordinator. Romy completed his instructor course in October before joining the team in a part time capacity, we quickly realized our project wouldn’t be the same without him and invited him to join us in a full time capacity.

I am also excited to announce the partnership with Liquid Dive Adventures! During my time in Bira I met up with Alex the pirate, the cruise director and manager of the liveaboard boat Akomo Isseki, and together we confirmed all the logistics for Indo Ocean Projects research expedition to Banda Sea.

In our first year of operation we ran a liveaboard expedition in Komodo. Before the pandemic we were in the process of developing some exciting trips that ultimately had to be paused. Now feels like the perfect time to launch this exciting new dynamic of Indo Ocean Project. Taking our research projects on the road to contribute to baseline data collection in remote regions of Indonesia.

Expedition Page

Banda Sea expedition is now accepting applications. Join our team on a hunt for South East Asia’s largest congregation of schooling hammerheads.

September/October 2022

Serena Stean – Program Director and Penida Project Manager
Since the last bimonthly we have celebrated the graduation of the following interns: Elise Dixon, Selene Gaiaini, Mario Casati, Evan Shaw, Yasmin Church, Gregoire Bouillon, Hanna Gingerich, Helen Wu, Micaela Grove, Violette Edwards, Eliane Weber, Giulia Pelonzi, Constantin Groenert, Alexander Groenert and Itay Benyamini. Congratulations everyone! As borders reopened after our short pause in September the interns came flooding back and we’ve had a very busy few months at the project.
All the above interns we also certified in Marine Ecology, Sea Turtle Ecology, Manta & Ray Ecology, Shark Ecology all through SSI, and Coral Diver certified through Ocean Gardener and this has made Indo Ocean Project one of the top SSI training centres for certifications in all of Indonesia, great work team. Many of our current intern group have also signed up to do Enriched Air Nitrox and Deep Specialties in their free time with our partnering dive centre Reeflex Divers also putting them in the top 5 training centres in Indonesia.

During our manta workshop we continue to show all of our interns the How To Swim With Manta Rays video from the Manta Trust as we are an official Responsible Operator, we are of course delighted to continue to spread the word for responsible manta tourism with all of our interns and their future customers.

Our interns have also enjoyed the regular outside workshops bringing other talented teachers to the program, with the IDC Taster Workshop with the incredible Helene Reynaud (PADI Course Director – Purple Dive Penida) and Eugene Beerey (PADI Course Director – Blue Corner Dive) and Intro to Freediving Workshops from the amazing Artur Mustaev (Apnea Penida). It has been nice for them to see how other top training centres operate and spend some time in some other amazing training pools.

The ocean is still been relatively quiet, allowing for some awesome dives. However we did experience a flash flood on Nusa Penida on the evening of the 15th December, 2021, thankfully the dive shop and interns were not effected but the rains caused damage mainly in the PED and Karangsari areas, and caused a lot of debris to flood into Crystal Bay. The Indo Ocean Project Intern Team mobilised to help out recovery efforts both on the surface and underwater, which Michaela will go into in more detail. We will not stop with our dive against debris dives until our beloved Crystal Bay is clear and beautiful once again. Thank you to all interns, staff and other dive shops around Nusa Lembongan and Nusa Penida that have donated time, tanks and boat space to help with this massive community effort.

We continue to upload data to the following citizen science databases regularly; Manta Trust, Marine Megafauna, Elasmosbranch Project Indonesia, Thresher Shark Indonesia, CoralWatch, Project AWARE Dive Against Debris, Internet of Turtles, eOceans and Match My Mola! With our interns in the ocean around Penida on most days this is our opportunity to collect valuable data for ourselves, but also for other organsiations doing great work to study and protect our oceans. A special thanks to intern Eliane Weber who has tirelessly entered our Dive Against Debris and CoralWatch data during her stay.

Warmer waters have returned to Penida and the interns are shedding the layers underwater. Although it has been a little rainy top side (with intermittent clear days that make you forget and still allow for any tanning), the ocean has been clear and sightings of megafauna and macro species have continued to amaze and delight. We have had sightings of Brownbanded Bamboo Sharks, Napoleon Wrasse, our resident Reef Manta Rays, Spotted Eagle Rays, Marble Rays, a fever of 10 Tahitian Stingrays, pods of Common Bottlenose Dolphins, and even a sighting of a Javanese Cownose Ray and Reef Manta out at Malibu Point. Our Best of BRUV 2021 video compilation will also be released shortly, and with greater access to the South Coast of Penida during the year, get ready for a manta-tastic montage!

Our first mangrove planting on Nusa Penida in Semaya was such a success, but Michaela will tell you more – we now have the nurseries restocked and cannot wait to get back over there once they are big enough to continue restoring around “Genesis” – a 100 year old mangrove that is beautifully established already.

Our Bira Staff members Marco Bastaroli (Bira Project Manager) and Jeffri Hoeng (Bira Program Co-ordinator) were here with us in Penida for a few short weeks, preparing for the relaunch of our sister Bira Project on the 10th February, 2022. We cannot wait to be able to start comparing the data and receiving news from both projects in months to come.

Pascal Sebastian – Lead Marine Biologist

We proudly managed to grow our data for a full year since Indo Ocean Project reopened on February 2021. In 2021 we have recorded sightings of sharks, rays, turtles, cetaceans and bumphead mola total 1911 sightings, conducted 119 roving surveys, 39 BRUV deployments and 37 water quality tests around Nusa Penida and 16 CoralWatch surveys in Crystal Bay.

In line with Indo Ocean Project’s mission: to be a home of marine science collaboration, we hosted two research interns, Mario Casati and Selene Gaiani from Università degli Studi di Milano Bicocca, Italy to finish their final year’s thesis project. Mario inspected the marine biodiversity of coralline hotspot (bommies) of Crystal Bay using roving survey and BRUV methodology, whilst Selene analysed the relationship of coral reef complexity (rugosity) and live coral coverage to reef fish biodiversity around Nusa Penida dive sites. Through hard and smart work and many discussions, Mario and Selene successfully collected all the field data and are currently developing their thesis manuscripts which will be sent for scientific publications in 2022. We are looking forward to continuing to welcome research of these scientific collaborations to yield more scientific publications that can help inform marine park management in Nusa Penida MPA.

December 2021 was a challenging time for Nusa Penida community as the flash flood hit parts of the islands northern coast and Crystal Bay, leaving damage to housings, infrastructures and key coral reef habitats of coral reef ecosystems. As a part of our commitment to involve in direct conservation to mitigate the damage of our reefs, we have successfully propagated 213 coral nubbins of Acropora sp. in our Crystal Bay nursery. These nubbins will be transferred onto the damaged reef patches to aid in the recovering of the local reef ecosystem. We aim to help the process of the reef recovering period to maintain the availability of food and shelter of many reef fishes which eventually contributing to Mola alexandrini (Bumphead Mola) conservation through its cleaning station services.

We are also monitoring the resilience of remaining Crystal Bay’s reef through CoralWatch. Our observations since January 2022 show that there is no significant difference in reef health score after the flash flood event with average value of 5 (scale is 1 to 6). This result indicates that the Crystal Bay’s reef is capable to cope with the stress from high sediment input. We will continue to monitor this reef to see any recovery and thriving pattern as the water parameters show a positive trend to date.


Based at The University of Queensland, CoralWatch integrates global reef monitoring with education and outreach to create reef awareness.
Michaela Dudasova & Arya Wol – Program Coordinators
In month of November and December, 7 interns flew to paradise from all over the world.
Every time interns land in Indonesia, I can’t wait to send them the warmest message.

‘Welcome to Indonesia now you can relax, and we are happy to welcome you very soon into our diving family’.

It’s a massive relief for them to touch down in Indonesia and start the quarantine. Most of them are utilizing their time to catch up on Fish ID test that should be completed before arriving to the program. Good news is that quarantine now has decreased from 5 to 3 days and looking to be cancelled all together for vaccinated travellers.

So here are the 7 heroes who travelled to us during the pandemic?

Violette Edwards from Fance, Eliane Weber and Itay Benyamini from Switzerland, Giulia Pelonzi from Italy, Constantin Groenert and Alexander Groenert from Germany and Nicolas Dubigny from Canada.


Wishing them good luck and happy bubbles!

Dive Against Debris
Sadly, a flash flood hit Nusa Penida in December. It was the worst in 25 years, tore through villages in Nusa Penida in early December destroying homes and causing severe damage and run off of debris into our coasts.

Our iconic Crystal Bay and famous tourist spot, was also affected by the incident. The flood destroyed 15 local stalls along the beach and washed the debris into Crystal Bay.

Massive clean up efforts were deployed not only on land, but also in the ocean. As a part of a massive community outreach, our team did not hesitate and started gradually removing small and medium size debris from the ocean the day after the flood.



After a safety briefing, we grabbed our mesh bags, gloves, scissors and scuba gear and dived into debris collection in Crystal bay. Our target was the sandy patch below the boats and the shallow part of the reef, where we found the most amount of trash. It took 6 shore dives to collect 67.69 kg of debris.

You must be curious what were the most common and weirdest things we found. The strangest debris items of note are; kitchen stove, building material, big cooking pots, wires, box full of snorkelling gear and common items such as; fishing nets, plastic ropes, packaging and clothing.

Mangrove Project

We are proud to announce that on the 17th of December we have successfully planted 161 mangroves in Semaya beach.

This is a huge success for Indo Ocean Project as it is the start of our green belt restoration program on Nusa Penida.

Our aim is to create a 100-meter-long & 15 meters width green belt in collaboration with the local government in northeast Penida.

Pascal (our marine biologist) with Arya (community coordinator) tried and tested various planting techniques. The tool kit that has proven most effective was a hand drill placed in a wide tube. The ground is hard and rocky, however, the 3 hand drills did the trick.


Planting started from an existing mangrove tree that is present for about 100 years. We have planted 25 meters from each side of the tree in 3 rows. The plants were planted 1 meters width from each other in a row. After planting, we secured them with bigger rocks to assure its attachments.

Big terimakahsih (Thank you!) to 27 participants from Indo Ocean Project, Reeflex divers, Nusa Penida Marine Park Authority, Banjar Semaya and our local community to make this magic to happen.

We have checked on our babies recently. All of them our still there and thriving. Their progress will be closely monitored. Wishing them good luck.

Image Gallery 

Want to join the team?

We are accepting applications for 2022 and beyond for our research diver and dive master internship program. Apply online today!