It’s been a strange few weeks in the wake of the spread of COVID-19, but check out all the action that went down at the Penida Project before the Corona virus here!

 Serena Stean – Penida Project Manager/Program Director

Since the last update an additional 8 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; Abby, Lidia, Kristin, Liana, Kendall, Katrin, Halllie and Florent! That’s a total of 59 Divemasters certified at the Nusa Penida Headquarters. 

We have all been enjoying the warmer waters around Penida these past two months, and the rain has now cleared the phytoplankton from Manta Point and the mantas have returned in full force with some excellent sightings in warm clear waters on the south coast of Penida. A few interns were also lucky to see a manta on the north in recent months at dive site Batumulapan, a rare sight indeed! As well as this we have had some excellent dives with plenty of sightings of brown banded bamboo sharks, blue spotted ribbon tail rays, spotted eagle rays, Indonesian wobbegongs, out of season molas and dolphins. As well all this we have daily sightings of our resident green and hawksbill turtles that we continue to ID using the i3s software for our Nusa Penida Turtles project. Stay tuned for monthly updates from our turtle project that will start very soon. The most surprising sighting captured by our video BRUVs and RUVs was a very rare Snaggletooth Shark and we have sent the footage over to the IUCN scientists as they were eager to see it. 

The plus side is our interns are now starting to shed their 5mm wetsuits in favour of 3mm, leggings or rash guards and shorts for the very brave, and our firm favourite Manta Point has now had the green washed out in favour of blue again. Sightings still are out in force on both survey dives and BRUVs with an AMAZING sighting of a Snaggletooth Shark (Hemipristis elongata) at Mangrove dive site and then on a RUV on our very own Dan’s Reef. Not only this but plenty of mantas, marble rays, white tip reef sharks, brown-banded bamboo sharks, tahitian stingrays and the odd whale shark kicking around in Penida waters currently. 

The mapping project continues to grow and develop and we are edging closer to completing all of our most dived sites, the latest addition was the a clear guide to our Dans Reef permanent BRUV drop posts, including scientific background and analysis instructions. With this guide it allows our interns to remember where the posts are and navigate to and from shore safely in the sometimes challenging conditions of our beloved house reef. Many comment that this is the best navigation challenge that adds to their skill set as dive masters, complemented by the many exhilarating drift dives we complete around Penida. 

The mangrove project strengthens daily in momentum with many of the 1500 babies now ready for planting, an exciting new partnership on Nusa Penida for planting will be announced soon as we look to repopulate a previous mangrove area with more beautiful greenery for both humans and animals to enjoy! With all of our other projects; CoralWatch, Biodiversity Mapping, BRUVs, Surveys and Beach Cleans continuing to delight and amaze. The interns also enjoyed an amazing Freedive workshop from the guys at Apnea Penida in the Nomads Diving pool a few weeks ago, something we will continue to offer for all our Penida divemaster candidates.  

We are also super proud to announce that the first naturally occurring fragments have been attached to our coral restoration structure, big thanks to Rebecca Purchase and Florent Berrucas for being the pioneers of this next phase of the project. We will obviously be recording everything for science including; 30 minute RUVs to monitor biodiversity changes over time as the structure develops, measuring of the corals transplanted, noting any mortality and disease and a time lapse of the structure as it progresses. Accompanying this method will be the launch of the OceanQuest restoration method which Pascal will tell you more about, we cannot wait to compare and contrast the results from two different restoration techniques!

With some staff moving around we are also super delighted to welcome the exceptional Putri Martosudarmo as Penida Project Co-ordinator and we have big writing plans for whilst she is with us. The incredible mumma Novie Bahri has now headed back to her beloved Bira as a fully fledged instructor to continue her Bira Project Co-ordinator role alongside the epic Marco Bastoroli as Bira Project Manager. We cannot wait to see the results of these now fully established dream teams in both locations. 

​I spent a total of six weeks at our sister Bira Project in January and February and was amazed by the diversity of the reefs and was delighted to see a lot of baby white tip reef sharks as well as spending time with the fantastic interns there. For those who want the complete internship why not visit both locations – something many interns have decided to do – Indonesia is such a wonderful country ready to explore both on the surface and in the big blue!

Pascal Sebastian – Lead Marine Biologist 

Indo Ocean Project as a Data Bank of Nusa Penida Waters, continues to collect the Roving Survey and BRUV. We have recorded 325 Roving surveys around the dive sites and have produced 83 BRUV to date, (almost to the halfway of our target). Our team has successfully captured better footages of Reef Manta Ray swimming around in Manta Bay and Manta point on our BRUV footage.

Our recent research project titled “Environmental variables influencing predatory teleosts presence in Nusa Penida Marine Protected Area, Indonesia” with Greta Santori has come to the end of the sampling period. As we have successfully recorded the benthic footages of various depth (25, 20, 15 and 5 m) of Batumulapan and Mangrove workshop, we continue to analyse the data and commence the manuscript writing. On the same time, our partnership with Dr. Rahmadi Prasetyo of UNDHIRA, Bali has come to the process of signing the MOU too smoothen our collaboration in publishing scientific paper. We are very excited about this!

 

I am delighted to announce that myself along with Bira Project Manager and fellow marine biologist, Marco, are certified as an Ocean Quest/Sea Sheaperd trainer for Coral Propagation this January. We attended a full three days course about the knowledge of the biology of coral reef, water quality test, nursery management also the propagation technique itself. Combining the Cyanoacrylate glue with the Ocean Quest Organic Catalyst ™, we are able to propagate coral without using any man-made structures but using the natural live rock, almost all organic! As a trainer, I am very excited to share this knowledge to our interns and the people around Nusa Penida as well as to raise the awareness the importance of conserving our coral reef. We are happy to upscale our knowledge with this new technique and get our hands on conserving Nusa Penida Reef. Happy coral gardening! 😊

As it is predicted by the NOAA Data of Coral Bleaching alert (https://coralreefwatch.noaa.gov/vs/timeseries/coral_triangle.php#east_java_bali), which South Bali’s water is in “Alert Level 1”, we have been enjoying the rather warm water, however it is not good for the coral reef. Indo Ocean Project has been invited to the Coral Bleaching Monitoring Workshop by Coral Triangle Center (CTC), alongside the dive centers on Nusa Penida to monitor this bleaching event. We are committed to record our favourite dive site: Dan’s Reef. Using the CoralWatch (https://coralwatch.org) method, seven surveys have been carried to indicate any change. The result shows that our reef has a decline scale of coral colouration, however there is no sign of significant coral bleaching. We would like to continue the monitoring program to contribute to the global monitoring of coral reef health and also to raise the awareness to the community about how climate change affects the coral reef ecosystem.