The Catlin Seaview Survey is in the midst of surveying the spectacular Bunaken National Park, in the heart of the Coral Triangle. The shallow reef team is fortunate enough to be joined by local collaborators including an undergraduate student, Jacqueline, from Sam Ratulangi University in Manado. Jacqueline was born and raised on the island of Bunaken in the middle of the marine park, which the team surveyed today, even visiting her favorite dive site, Fukui. I was lucky enough to dive this site, and it was some of the most stunning diving I have ever experienced. Fukui is particularly exceptional in topography, coral cover, and fish abundance.
Currently at university, Jacqueline studies Fisheries Management, which she chose because of her desire to protect and conserve the coral reefs around her home. While on board the Ocean Rover with the team in Lembeh Strait, Jacqueline familiarized us with local ‘community protected areas’. We had the opportunity to survey three of these zones, which are very similar to no-take marine protected areas (MPAs), and are closely supervised by the local villagers. As part of her research she is monitoring these zones in both Manado and Lembeh, where corals have been transplanted to see if fish populations proliferate. Jacqueline also works as a freelance dive guide, taking her as far as Bali to teach university students from around the world about coral reefs. Her knowledge and experience is obvious, seamlessly working with the Catlin Seaview Survey’s day-to-day operations, and happy to establish a baseline record of her local reefs.
When asked what she would like to do after she graduates from university, Jacqueline talks about the possibility of working for a non-profit organisation like WWF or Project Aware. Or maybe following in her father’s footsteps and becoming a dive guide onboard a liveaboard vessel that travels around Indonesia. She would especially like to work in Raja Ampat, where she has heard and read the corals are the most beautiful. This love of the marine environment is clearly a family affair, as her brother is currently studying underwater tourism in order to become a dive guide as well.
And what, you may ask, is a local from the Coral Triangle’s favorite marine creature with thousands to choose from? A Harlequin shrimp, of course.