Michaela Dudasova

Penida Project Manager

I’m excited to report on my first quarterly update as Project Manager of the Penida Project. My journey with Indo Ocean Project started 5 years ago when I came to be a part of the dive master and research diver internship as one of the first groups. After spending the last few years working in admissions and then as the Penida Program Coordinator it fills me with joy to progress into the Project Manager position. I’m looking forward to being a part of our interns dive master training and sharing my dive and research knowledge.

I would like to start off by celebrating 5 of our alumni in the competition of their Instructor Development Course (IDC). Congratulations to Mihika Goyal, Katie Moore, Caitlin Orzel, Micaela Joanna, and Itay Benyamini! Welcome to the dive instructor club!

I would also like to give a warm welcome to our new team member here in Penida, Sigrid Can den Stock has joined us as our Program Coordinator and Dive master instructor. She has worked for several marine conservation organisations as well has over 5 years’ experience in teaching diving. Our interns will have lot to learn from her and she has quickly stepped into a mentoring role.  

In the last 3 months we have had 12 interns graduate from our program. Congradulations to Saskia Duncan, Clemence Sayer, Livio Flueler, Shivan Modi, Ellie Millington, Henriikka Malkamaki, Edward Northeast, Bonnie Waxman, Linnea Rustard, Cecile Personnic, Manon Trouceiler, and Federico Buda. They have all successfully completed their dive master and research diver program including being certified in 5 ecology specialty courses. Many of our interns signed up for additional courses like Harry’s regulator and compressor maintance workshop or Deep Diver specialty courses, expanding their knowledge in the dive industry making them more employable.  

We have been conducting our usual pool session to refine diver skills while teaching our interns to lead our scientific dives with the help of our staff. To provided further insight into the next step in professional diving interns took part in an Introduction to IDC workshop with course directors Helene Reynaud (PADI Course Director – Purple Dive Penida) and Made P and Eugene (PADI Course Director – Blue Corner Dive).

We have also welcomed the team from Freedive Nusa and GoFreediving Penida to conduct apnea and freediving workshops. This is a great workshop to gain watermanship confidence and earns interns another check in their dive master credentials.

It has been a fantastic few months for exciting sightings and Mola season this year did not disappoint. The colder waters in September and October brought dozens of bumphead mola (Mola alexandrini) sightings. The temperatures have warmed up in the month of November but with visibility staying clear Manta Point has been a joy to dive. Although many other dive boats from Nusa Penida, Lembongan, and Bali flock to this famous dive site every morning, conditions have been ideal and reef manta rays (Mobula alfredi) continue to be spotted on the cleaning station.

On top of our resident megafauna’s we have recorded sightings of a blue ring octopus (Hapalochlaena lunulata), common seahorse (Hippocampus guttulatus), Indonesian wobbegongs (Orectolobus leptolineatus), brownbanded bamboo sharks (Chiloscyllium punctatum), napoleon wrasse (Cheilius undulatus), juvenile spotted eagle rays (Aetobatus narinari), Tahitian ray (Pateobatis fai) and some large pods of common bottlenose dolphins (Tursiops truncatus).

Read on for some more exciting updates from Rinaldi and Sigrid.

Rinaldi Gotama

Data Analyst and Marine Biologist

Data and Science

This quarter was filled with exciting scientific work and interesting sightings in Nusa Penida! We completed 37 roving surveys, 13 BRUV deployments and water quality checks, 23 citizen science dives, 7 CoralWatch dives, and 1 mangrove planting day. We also collected 60 kg worth of trash from 8 dives against debris in Crystal Bay, which was an incredible effort to maintain one of our most beloved dive sites clean and pristine. Significant sightings this quarter included 4 shark species (including a whale shark in Manta Point!), 5 ray species, 14 key fish species, 2 sea turtle species, and 10 other species of interest (including bumphead molas and a humpback whale cruising on the north coast).

Moreover, we completed a mangrove planting at Semaya in October. Our new strategy of planting only seedlings that are 70 cm or taller seems to work; more than half (56 out of 100) of the seedlings planted previously survived. This is a significant improvement from our past efforts, and I’m so happy that all this hard work seems to start paying off! We planted 108 new seedlings that day, bringing our total to 164 seedlings planted. 

In diving news, we are currently trialing a new method to survey benthic biodiversity. This includes corals, sponges, bryozoans, algae, and so on. We constructed a structure that holds a camera to take pictures of a square quadrat hanging below it, and we will eventually identify the organisms inside that quadrat. The purpose of this study is not only to survey the biodiversity of benthic sessile (non-moving) organisms, but also to find the connections with fish data we collect with BRUV and roving surveys.   

Speaking of fish, our roving survey research paper is nearing completion! We are aiming to submit the completed manuscript at the end of November this year, so keep your eyes peeled for news in the coming months. Our BRUV paper is also taking shape — it’s definitely intriguing to see the difference of the results obtained by the two different methods. Both methods seem to complement each other, and will be imperative in our continuous efforts to monitor and maintain the MPA. 

Our citizen science effort is also going well as planned. We have caught up with our photo submissions of manta rays and elasmobranchs, with sea turtles underway. In three months, we have uploaded 47 photos of elasmobranchs to EPI’s (Elasmobranch Project Indonesia) website. Our manta submissions have grown from 18 to 115 individuals, while sea turtles from 320 to 370 individuals. Out of the 50 new turtle photographs, 12 of them appear to be new turtles we had not identified before. This goes to show that no matter how many dives you have done, you still have so many things yet to be discovered.

MERO Foundation

Indonesian Marine Education & Research Orgaisation, offering a wide range of high-quality educational and extra-curicular activities.

Last but not least, we are also working hard to forge friendships with our partners. In October, Dr. Rahmadi Prasetyo, our long-term partner, mentor, and the director of the MERO Foundation (Marine Education and Research Organization) showed us around the laboratory facilities in Tulamben, Bali. Their lab is filled with new, cutting-edge equipment to conduct science. We hope that this will open a new window for us to work on some genetic analysis, particularly with environmental DNA (eDNA) and next-generation sequencing.

All in all, I think that we are progressing very well in Penida, and I am very excited to continue discovering new things and making positive changes in our beloved community and marine ecosystem.  

Sigrid Van den Stock

Program Coordinator and Dive Instructor

I am excited to be writing my first quarterly report as the new program co-ordinator for the Penida Project.

New Intern Arrivals

Since the last update we have welcomed a whole new group of interns to their new “home away from home” at the Penida Project, located at the beautiful Reeflex Divers in Crystal Bay, Nusa Penida.

The arrival day begins with a big smile and welcome, and then straight down to business with the mandatory paperwork (boring but necessary) and fitting out of the dive gear that will form their “uniform” for the coming 8-14 weeks training – a bit like a hermit crab finding it’s new shell.

After an introduction workshop it’s time to refresh their dive knowledge with the Refresher Workshop and Refresher session in the natural Reeflex pool – no need for chlorine here.

Our most recent arrivals include many nationalities, making our research team beautifully diverse: Shivan Modi (UK), Ellie Millington (UK), Edward Northeast (UK), Cecile Personnic (Switzerland), Clemence Sayer (France), Livio Flueler (Switzerland), Henriikka Malkamaki (Iceland), Bonnie Waxman (USA) and Federico Buda (Italy). We appreciate each and every one of them making the journey to join us in paradise to start the journey to becoming a dive professional.

Dive Against Debris

Our two weekly clean-ups in Crystal Bay continue with varied amounts and types of trash to be found. Penida is uniquely sat on the Indonesian Throughflow coming from the North of Indonesia and beyond, bringing nutrients that support the amazing marine life seen, but sadly with that can sometimes come accompanying debris. Our ocean warriors make it their mission to remove this from our “House Reef” and keep it clean for all to enjoy. Since the last update we have completed 8 cleanup dives, totalling 45.7kg. The debris collected included flip flops, cloth, bottles, cans, rope, rubber, fishing lines and a stool! A great job done by all of our interns and staff.


Our previous successful methodology continues after the success of the previous planting in July – a massive 50% survival rate recorded to the delight of the staff and interns alike.

We continue to repopulate the area around the one naturally recruited mangrove called Genesis and our area remains the same: 25 meters from each side of the tree in 3 rows. The propagules were planted 1-meter width from each other in a row. After planting, we secured them with bigger rocks to help with their attachment to the substrate.

We have found that planting the babies when they are at least 75cm tall gives them a much greater chance of surviving and thriving. Rinaldi and Pascal have been busy measuring the success of previous plantings and will report further in the coming months.

At our nursery at Reeflex Divers we continue to replenish stock planted with propagules from neighbouring islands and to date we have 535 growing in our nursery, and a total of 491 outplanted.

As always we would like to thank the everyone involved in this messy muddy fun day including the interns staff from Indo Ocean Project, Reeflex Divers, Bintang Bungalows, Nusa Penida Marine Park Authority, Banjar Semaya and local community for allowing us to make this magic happen.

Image Gallery 

Want to join the team?

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