Mette Carlsen – Penida Project Manager

I am delighted to share my last quarterly report as project manager of the Indo Ocean project Nusa Penida program. I will be finishing my time with IOP in July and am both proud and sad to say goodbye to the amazing experience it has been. I consider myself extremely lucky to have been working with some passionate staff and some inspiring interns and I would like to give my deepest thanks to everyone who has been a part of this adventure.

I leave the project in very capable hands, since I will be replaced by Selene, coming from the Raja Ampat project and I know that she will do an amazing job at engaging and inspiring the interns. Furthermore, unfortunately Anne’s amazing skills are needed elsewhere and she is going to the Raja Ampat project to take the manager position there. I want to give my warmest personal thank you for everything she has done here as she has been the most incredible help and will be missed a lot. Luckily, she will very soon be replaced by previous intern Prajit who will start as coordinator from now on. I am very excited to start this cooperation.

This last month we have also been blessed with the company of Pedro, who is a talented videographer here to try and capture that life of IOP and some of the many inspiring people that are a part of it. It has been wonderful to work with you and we are very excited to see the results of your hard work in the future!

In the past three months we have congratulated 11 new SSI and PADI divemaster and research graduates in Penida and I would like to give an additional congratulations to Tiffany (Hei Laam Cheung), Matthew Emard, Adri Forczek, Casey Marsh, Alyse Turner, Edouard de Mailly Nesle, Elena Rocco, Andy Handoko, Eliane Sauter, Aditya Rughoobura and Margareth Landicho. You have done a great job and I want to thank you again for your contribution to the project.

The season is changing in Penida and the cold water is bringing a lot of interesting sightings. The interns and staff have been seeing Common bottlenose dolphins (Tursiops truncatus), Sea turtles, Brown-banded bamboo shark (Chiloscyllium punctatum), White tip reef shark (Triaenodon obesus) Pelacic thresher shark (Alopias pelagicus), Snaggletooth shark (Hemipristis elongate), Indonesian wobbegong shark (Orectolobus leptolineatus) and of course our iconic Bumphead mola (Mola alexandrini) and Reef manta rays (Mobula alfredi). Furthermore, we have been making exciting findings of bamboo shark eggs in the south of the island. Especially Crystal Bay is proving to have quite the density of both empty and full eggs.

Other than doing our normal program internally the interns have, as always, been participating in external activities around Penida. They have been doing IDC workshop in Purple dive and Blue Corner as well as freediving workshops in Pure dive and Freedive Penida and Coral planting days and Nuansa Pulau. All this provide them with a wider view of the local community and diving industry.

Lastly, I want to give another thanks to the interns and staff for conducting all the Dive against debris, CoralWatch, BRUV, surveys and all the other conservation efforts that make the project possible. We truly could not do it without you!

And a personal thank you for all the inspiration, sharing of passion and dedication to do what you can for the marine environment and taking what you have learned with you into the world.

Anne van den Boomen – Penida Project Program Coordinator

Mixed feelings from my side as this is already my last quarterly report for the Penida project- happy to announce that I will switch roles and start as the Project Manager for the Raja Ampat project soon!

The last 3 months have been flying by, with the end of the rainy season in sight and the introduction of some colder waters bringing out some thicker wetsuits but also some awesome Mola sightings!

Since we last updated you we have welcomed 13 new interns that are all ready to call Penida home for the next few months. A big warm welcome to Emilie Julin, Isobel Gordon, Molly McNamara, Harry Tuffey, Margareth Landicho, Katharina Kuckeland, Eloise Costain, Quentin Lecanu, Joel Porter, Connor Kelly, Abigail Roberts, Louis Frankland and Sharon Jacobson!

This last quarter has been full of workshops, science, diving and plenty of training courses for our interns to get ready to begin their divemaster training. Most interns are arriving in Bali a few days before their starting day to get accustomed to the heat and time difference. We do see some sleepy and confused faces on the first day of the internship now and then, because we start with a big introduction day! After the introduction day and check out dive in our lovely house reef of Crystal bay that has been treating us very well lately some interns start some courses while other immediately jump into their dive master training. It can be pretty full on in the beginning, but it’s amazing to see how fast everyone gets used to the diving life and picking up small cues to become amazing divers.

With the end of the rainy season in mind we only sometimes still have some nightly thunderstorms, but it’s mostly sunshine now. The dive sites in the north of Nusa Penida have been treating us with some amazing (thresher) shark and mola sightings, while the water is clear and nice and warm to dive in now. The dive sites on the south has been treating us with plenty of amazing octopus’ and manta’s flying by in such great numbers our interns didn’t even know where to look.

Currently we have 300 mangrove propagules in our mangrove nursery. We are making sure that they get properly watered every day so that they grow big enough for us to organize a new mangrove planting day. Hopefully that day will come soon, because it’s really fun planting the plants in the mud and finding some cute creatures living there at the same time 🙂

In the coming months I will keep working for IOP but then in Raja Ampat. I am looking forward to seeing all the divemaster trainees there going through their internship journey and helping them as much as I can!

Rinaldi Gotama – Penida Project Marine Biologist and Data Analyst

Science and biodiversity report

The rainy season has arrived in Penida! The sky has been pouring for the past couple of months but we’re lucky that marine biologists often don’t mind being wet 😉 The weather has not stopped us from completing our science targets this quarter. Collectively we have finished 36 roving surveys, 12 BRUV drops, and 12 benthic surveys from around Penida. Some of these BRUV drops have been very eventful with sightings of a bumphead mola (Mola alexandrini), sea turtles, and large schools of barracudas.

That’s right — molas. We did not predict them to visit us so early in the year, but we have seen them six separate times this quarter; not bad for a low season. Other elusive creatures we saw this quarter include the Indonesian wobbegong (Orectolobus leptolineatus), whitetip reef shark (Triaenodon obesus), and spotted eagle ray (Aetobatus ocellatus). Perhaps, they are drawn to the reefs because of the cold water that is also visiting us early (as cold as 21 degrees in Crystal Bay and Manta Point!). The varying factors impacting the water conditions, such as ocean circulations, still puzzle us, but that shows how much we still have to learn about how nature works.

Mermaid’s purses and sightings of baby sharks (do do do do do do?)

On a couple occasions this quarter we found empty mermaid’s purses in the south of Penida. We suspect them to belong to the brownbanded bamboo sharks (Chiloscyllium punctatum), because recently there have been reports of the juveniles spotted across the island. We have started a new citizen science database to record the sightings of mermaid’s purses across the island to hopefully understand more about their life cycle and habitat use. Please stay tuned for more news coming soon!

Citizen science report

Speaking of citizen science – we are documenting all of our fortuitous encounters in our databases and sharing our data with our respective partners. Overall, we conducted 39 citizen science dives and collected 24 turtle cheek photos, 5 shark photos, and 15 manta belly photos to our database. It’s really important to collect these photos because we’re not blessed with cutting-edge technology and facilities in such a remote study site, so we have to use these photos to learn about their habitat use, sex ratio, life cycle, and many more! We also completed 6 CoralWatch dives and 6 Dives Against Debris to monitor and maintain the health of corals in Crystal Bay.

Coral restoration report

Speaking of Crystal Bay, I am pleased to report that we have completed 3 more coral restoration dives this quarter and brought the total number of fragments planted to 1180. Sadly, one of our nursery tables flipped because of some intense weather conditions, so we had to say good bye to 30 of our coral fragments. But don’t worry, we quickly replaced them with new fragments and transplanted some mature fragments to our metal spiders. These spiders will become permanent homes for our coral fragments. So far, they are doing very well and hopefully our dream of restoring Crystal Bay will come to fruition soon.

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