Serena Stean – Penida Project Manager

Since the last bimonthly we have celebrated the graduation of the following interns: Nicolas Dubigny, Anna Lewis, Jonathan Hallmark, Li-Ann Smal, Daria Kravtsova, Emma Wilkinson, Paulin Kobor, Melissa Hadley, Oriol Labrandero, Rachel Wall and Emilie Rodesch. Congratulations everyone and thank you all for contributing to our ongoing science and conservation work at the project.

All the above interns were also certified in Marine Ecology, Sea Turtle Ecology, Manta & Ray Ecology, Shark Ecology all through SSI, and Coral Diver certified through Ocean Gardener, as fun divers return to the island we keep flying the flag for conservation. Many of our current intern group have also signed up to do Enriched Air Nitrox and Deep Specialities in their free time with our partnering dive centre Reeflex Divers, spending time deeper, longer, or sometimes both!

We are very excited to announce our new data partnership with Marine Megafauna Foundation, bringing our former Nusa Penida Turtles, Bira Turtles and Bunaken Turtles datasets to the mighty Internet of Turtles platform, and combining this with the great ID shots our fellow researchers around the Nusa islands are collecting. We are currently busy loading the historical data and can’t wait to see the results. We are hoping it will unlock the secrets of the movements of both our Green Sea Turtle (Chelonia mydas) and Hawksbill Turtle (Eretmochelys imbricata) populations. We will be aiming to publish in 2023, however Pascal will keep you updated on the progress made.  

We have equally ramped up our efforts to continue to collect as much citizen science data as possible with GoPros and cameras at the ready – we’ve had some real luck collecting manta, mola and turtle IDs for Mantamatcher, Match My Mola and Internet of Turtles databases, with dedication from a number of our past and present interns to load everything in – Emilie Rodesch, Rachel Wall, Rebecca Wall, Katie Moore, Elisha Whiting, Niamh Kelly, Mihika Goyal, Aayush Singhvi, Rinaldi Gotama, Amanda Horn – you guys all rock!

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.

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

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). We are delighted that former interns Elise Dixon and Yasmin Church completed their IDCs in February with Eugene, and Constantin Groenert and our very own Michaela Dudasova completed their IDCs in March with Helene. Congratulations to these talented new instructors full of conservation knowledge and venturing out into the teaching world. Your future students will be lucky to learn with you.

The ocean is starting to get busier as borders have opened, but we are still having some amazing dives. With the expert timing of the Reeflex boats co-ordinated by owners Harry and Roman, we virtually always hit the dive sites at the sweet spot times, and know when to time our South trips so we maximise our chances of having a peaceful time with the mantas. We’ve also been doing some exploration dives, and whilst we are going to keep the location a secret for now, we think we may have discovered a new deep cleaning station.

Our CoralWatch and Dive Against Debris dives continue to delight, CoralWatch is a bit like underwater orienteering (and a great exercise for testing your compass skills), and our debris dives are all about keeping our beloved Crystal Bay free of debris, so the reefs can flourish.

Currently the water temperature is in Penida is fluctuating from warm to a bit chilly. Our interns are always prepared for a thermocline or two – “I think Crystal Bay will be warm enough for no wetsuit” is a statement many are willing to make, but some certainly regret. The rainy season is now behind us and the ocean has been clear, sightings of megafauna and macro species have continued to amaze and delight. We have had encounters with: Pelagic Thresher Sharks, Brownbanded Bamboo Sharks, Napoleon Wrasse, our resident Reef Manta Rays, adorable juvenile Spotted Eagle Rays, Marble Rays, pods of Common Bottlenose Dolphins, and even a sighting of our elusive Snaggletooth Shark has occurred since the last update. Our current intern Rinaldi Gotama is also working hard on our 2021 data sets and analysis of last year will be available soon.

Our second mangrove planting on Nusa Penida in Semaya was a resounding success, and it was great to see impressive survival rates from our first planting. New babies continue to grow in the nursery, managed by our program coordinators Arya Wol and Romy Septiahadi, and tended to by all our interns. Pascal, myself and our partners in Bali are currently designing a number of mangrove studies which will be launched in the coming months.

Our Bira Project is going from strength to strength, and exciting news will be announced in their next update. Pascal Sebastian visited Bira for three weeks to complete a full science audit and set the groundwork for many new amazing collaborations in Sulawesi.

This will be my final update as Penida Project Manager, as I hand the day-to-day operations to Michaela Dudasova who will absolutely rock it, giving me more time to focus on bringing all our workshops up to date with the latest science, writing new workshops, and launch further projects in Indonesia and beyond. I know I am leaving it in the most capable hands as I move into the Program Director role full time.

Pascal Sebastian – Lead Marine Biologist

April and May have been a busy period for Indo Ocean Project’s science work. We proudly continue to grow our 2022 in-house research data while analysing the previous data for scientific publications collaborating with our research partners (UNDHIRA, Ocean Gardener, Elasmobranch Project Indonesia and Marine Megafauna Foundation) . This year we have conducted 66 roving surveys, 23 BRUV deployments and 23 water quality tests around Nusa Penida and 7 CoralWatch surveys in Crystal Bay.

Since the last bimonthly we are excited to go to the next step in analysing our data. Our previous research interns, Mario Casati and Selene Gaiani from Università degli Studi di Milano Bicocca, Italy will finalise their thesis defence in June followed by publication script construction. Meanwhile, our current intern, Rinaldi Gautama is analysing thoroughly our Roving Survey data to produce a report of predatory fish stock around Nusa Penida in 2021. We are also working to analyse our in-house BRUV data from 2018 to 2021 with a helping hand of our graduate interns Mette Carlsen and Elise Dixon. This BRUV research is also in collaboration with Andhika Prasetyo, a Ph. D candidate of University of Salford, Manchester and is affiliated to Ministry of Marine Affair and Fisheries, Republic of Indonesia. Last but not least, we have successfully started our Coral Recruitment Study as part of the colaboration with The CorAlliance Coral Restoration Site with our future research intern, Henriikka Malkamäki of who will join us this October from University of Helsinki. We are investigating whether the restored area has a better benefit in coral recruitment process temporarily. We are looking forward to continuing the work of these scientific collaborations to yield more scientific publications that can help inform marine park management in Nusa Penida MPA and throughout Indonesia.

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 be involved in direct conservation to mitigate the damage of our reefs, we have successfully propagated 458 coral nubbins of Acropora sp by deploying the 7th nursery table in Crystal Bay with the support of our partners at Ocean Gardener and Reeflex Divers. 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.

Ocean Gardener

An NGO founded in 2016, and dedicated to coral reef education. A team of marine biologists, divers, and coral farmers dedicated to educating people about coral and the reef they live in

Michaela Dudasova and Arya Wol

Program Coordinators

We have welcomed 10 interns who flew to our paradise from all over the world. Every time an intern lands in Indonesia I can’t wait to send them the warmest welcome message. ‘Welcome to Indonesia now you can relax and prepare for your program! We are happy to welcome you very soon into our diving family’.

Some interns like to arrive a couple of days before the program start date and are utilizing their time to catch up on the online Fish ID test that should be completing before arrival and enjoying the beauty of Indonesia.

Good news to all incoming interns. No more quarantine! No more testing! Visa On Arrivals are not available! What a relief, as we navigate through the final effects of the pandemic.

So here are the 10 heroes who travelled from across the world to finally get some vitamin “sea“:

Ann Lewis, Emma Wilkinson from England, Li-Ann Small from Ireland, Jonathan Hallmark from Italy, Daria Kavtsova & Paulin Kobor from Germany, Melissa Hadley, Rachel Wall, & Rebecca Wall from USA, Oriol Labrandero from Spain and Emillie Rodesh from Belgium.

Wishing them good luck and happy bubbles.

Dive against debris

Sadly, a flash flood hit Nusa Penida in December 2021. It was the worst in 25 years and ripped through several villages in Nusa Penida, destroying homes and causing severe run off and debris into the ocean. Our iconic Crystal Bay and famous beach was heavily affected by the event. The cleanup strategy for this site continued for 3-4 months until the largest of the debris was removed by a tremendous effort from the entire Nusa Penida community.

After a safety briefing, we grab 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 shallow part of the reef, where we found the most amount of trash. It took 13 shore dives to collect 104.17 kg of debris.

The strangest debris items are; bintang crate, building material, big cooking pots, roofing, box full of snorkeling gear and the most common items were; fishing nets, plastic ropes, packaging and clothing.

Mangrove Project

We are proud to announce that on the 28th of March we have successfully planted and additional 110 mangrove propagules in our second planing at Semaya beach. This project aims to create a 100-meter-long and 15 meters wide green belt on the north-eastern side of Nusa Penida.

Our methodology has been proven successful in the hard and rocky ground in the restoration site. With 3 hand drills, we were able to successfully plant out our propagules into their new home.


Planting started from an existing mangrove tree that has been present for around 100 years. We have planted 25 meter from each side of the tree in 3 rows. The propagules were planted 1 meters width from each other in a row. After planting, we secured them with bigger rocks to help with their attachment to the substrate. 

We conducted an assessment of the previous batch of planted propagules and are happy to announce a 90% success rate. However, we have noted an area of improvement when it comes to the preparation and readiness of the nursery propagules before planting.

Our previous approach was to pick out the propagules that had 6 to 8 leaves, regardless of their height. However, we noticed that their growth has been very slow, possibly due to the amount of time submerged underwater during high tides. Pascal is now testing a new approach which we will implement in our next planting as we constantly adapt to the challenging environment for the best success rate. We are going to pick mangroves that are 70cm tall, regardless of amount of leaves, so that the highest tip of the plants are less exposed to the tides, allowing for an accelerated growth.

Their progress will be closely monitored, and we look forward to our third planting event in a few months. A big thank you to 18 participant from Indo Ocean Project, Reeflex divers, Nusa Penida Marine Park Authority, Banjar Semaya and the local community to make this magic happen.

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Want to join the team?

We only have 3 spots left in join the Penida Project in 2022! Apply online today!