Michaela Dudasova

Penida Project Manager

The past three months has been a busy time at the Penida Project with some big changes in science, interns and the wonderful rainy season weather! But as always in the industry change is normal and keeps things interesting.

We have had 10 new graduates in Penida, all obtaining their divemaster certification through either SSI or PADI training agencies. Congratulations to Linnea Rustad, Demi Klerkx, Klaudia Kozlowska, Olivia Ward, Matthew Sayer, Joshua Weidner, Gianna Paden, Charlotte Weldon, Oliver Klompe and Noah Breuninger for this massive achievement. An additional thank you to researcher program intern Andrea Omati who joined us for 10 weeks and contributed hugely to our science efforts. We look forward to following your professional development journeys and cannot wait to see what you all get up to next.

aatWe’ve had workshops from our usual partners taking place to ignite curiosity and inspire our interns as to different directions they can go – many thanks to Purple Dive Penida and Blue Corner Dive for hosting IDC workshops, and to Freedive Nusa for freedive taster sessions – we wait to see how many become instructors, and how many add “no tank” diving to their list of skills. Our interns have been delighted when our head office team (Pascal Sebastian and Serena Stean) have popped in to share their immense knowledge in our ecology workshops on corals, mantas, sharks, turtles, molas and nudibranchs, and the excitement afterwards is always felt.

With the rainy season upon us we have had some changeable conditions both on the surface and underwater, but as we always say “we are gonna get wet anyway” so it hasn’t held us back or slowed us down in anyway. The big benefit of rainy season is that Nusa Penida itself turns into a lush green paradise and the gardens around the beautiful dive centre at Reeflex Divers has exploded with life.

Underwater we have seen our “resident” species in abundance and often no wetsuits have been required as we are at the warmest time of the year for the ocean. We expect now the rains to subside and the waters to begin to cool once again. Our reef mantas have been pleased to see us when we have managed to make it to the south coast in times of less wind and swell. We’ve spent plenty of time with our beloved turtles (hawksbill and green) around the island and even saw a rare loggerhead turtle in Crystal Bay!

We have been making sure to try and get those photo ID shots for all sightings for the ever-growing database. We’ve had a few off-season sightings of molas and even a thresher shark to add to the list. We’ve also been on plenty of macro hunts for additions to our iNaturalist data and have used the skills learned in PPB and Fin Kicks to make sure they can get close, but not too close.

Rinaldi will fill you in more on our sightings data and our exciting changes to our species survey data sets for 2023.

We have the luxury to spend two to tree and a half month with our interns. During this time we get to know their personalities and tailor our training approach. It makes our team happy to watch their progress. They are changing form unsure divers to confident professionals. 

As always, I would like to say a massive thank you to the whole team for all their hard work, it takes a village!

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 had done 36 roving fish surveys, 12 BRUV deployments and water quality checks, 28 citizen science dives, 20 benthic survey dives, 9 dives against debris, 6 CoralWatch dives, and 3 coral restoration dives. We collected 90 kg worth of trash from our beautiful Crystal Bay, as an effort to maintain the condition of one of our favorite dive sites. Significant sightings in this quarter include 3 shark species (including a thresher shark!), 4 ray species, 3 sea turtle species, 17 key species, bumphead molas, and bottlenose dolphins.

First things first, we have updated the list of target taxa. We don’t only survey the oriental sweetlips (Plectrothinchus vittatus), but also all sweetlips family (Haemulidae). We have added several elasmobranch species that include 2 benthic sharks, 4 mobulid rays, and 2 benthic rays, as well as several species of interest that include 2 marlin species, and 5 new mammals (dugong, Bryde’s whale, sperm whale, humpback whale, and the minke whale). While this addition increases the interns’ study workload, it will also enrich their diving experience and further solidifies the quality of the data we collect.

The new benthic survey technique has been fully tested and it is ready to be implemented in all of our projects! So far, our preliminary data agrees with existing literature, as it shows distinctive benthic composition (hard corals, soft corals, sponges, etc.) in different depths and site locations. I’m excited to conduct long-term monitoring of the coral reef and possibly detect changes of composition in the long run. I will soon be traveling to Bira and Raja Ampat to launch the benthic survey project in these sites as well. 

I’m happy to announce that I have started teaching the coral ecology course as well! I have certified my first four coral graduates in November, and hopefully a lot more in the future. In total, we have propagated 392 Acropora fragments in our nursery from 3 separate restoration dives.

Our citizen science effort is going well as planned. In this quarter, we have uploaded 9 elasmobranch photos to Elasmobranch Project Indonesia, 17 manta ray belly pictures to MantaMatcher and IDTheManta, and 22 sea turtle cheek pictures to Internet of Turtles. Out of all the turtle pictures uploaded, 12 of them belong to new individuals that were just discovered to science! I’m very pleased with the progress we have with our citizen science projects, and hopefully we will be able to synthesize a report from these photo uploads — so keep your eyes peeled in the coming months!

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 start writing my 2nd quarterly report as a program coordinator for the Penida project. Now that I have been with IOP for 3 months, I feel established in this role and ready to take on a new challenge as an interim program manager at the Bira project for 3 months. I wish the Penida project staff all the best in my absence. 

New Intern Arrivals

Since November we have welcomed a whole new group of interns to their new home away from home at Nusa Penida. I and the new arrivals have been making the journey together in understanding the inner and outer workings of the everyday running of the program.

Please welcome: Klaudia Kozlowska (POL/UK), Demi Klerkx. (NETHERLANDS), Linnea Rustad (USA), Olivia Ward (UK), Matthew Sayer (UK), Joshua Weidner (Germany), Saoirse Macklin(UK), Charlotte Weldon (UK) Oliver Klompe (UK) Noah Breuninger (GERMANY), Dharksheneswary Selvakumaran (Dharkshen) (MALAYSIA), Huw Fletcher (UK) and Tim Heusser (SWITZERLAND) ( Eddie Loy (UK) Kelsey Altmayer (US), Shannen Charter (AUS) Zara Hopkins (NEW ZEALAND) and Hannah Brown (UK))

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.

The arrival day begins with big smiles and a lot of questions. After welcoming everyone and doing paperwork, we jump into the pool to refresh our dive skills and create a solid base to build on top of during their divemaster course. Day 2 is always an exciting day because we jump in the ocean for the first time to explore Crystal Bay, our house reef, where they get to see the wonderful marine life that this dive site has to offer.

Over the next few months Crystal bay will become like a second home for our interns as this dive site will be used as a training ground for a variety of divemaster and conservation workshops; a rescue scenario, lift bag and knots workshop, compass and navigation skills., coral watch, dives against debris, etc. 

Dive Against Debris

‘I need the sea because it teaches me’ Pablo Neruda

We like our planet and oceans clean. Every two weeks we organize a clean-up dive to do our part in creating a healthy planet. In conservation there is no such thing as competition… but there was, Arya’s team would win. Arya is known within the team for his amazing eyes and he can spot the tiniest shrimps, crabs, and nudibranchs. It is safe to say that he has no problem finding debris underwater and he never comes back empty-handed. 

The debris collected included flip-flops, cloth, bottles, cans, rope, fishing lines, and even a car tire. Our combined efforts over the last couple of months resulted in a total of 82,2 kg, spread out over 7 clean-up dives. Keep up the good work, team!


Rainy season brings much-needed relief for the soil and gives the plants the nutrients they need which turns our island beautifully green. Unfortunately, the rainy season is also accompanied by the occasional storm. Rough weather means some of our mangrove babies in the nursery were put through challenging conditions and did not make it through the storms. Luckily with some tender love and care from our interns many of the propagules are thriving and growing. 

We are excited to report that 119 of our propagules in the mangrove nursery have reached a length of 70cm already so we are getting close to the required length (75cm) to be ready for planting.

Image Gallery 

Want to join the team?

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