This week marks a huge milestone in manta conservation – tailor-made specialist Dive Worldwide is delighted to reveal that the Indonesian government is to establish the world’s largest manta ray sanctuary, encompassing a massive 6 million sq. kms. of ocean. The new legislation now enforces full, nationwide protection for both manta species across Indonesia. To protect these giant rays still further, UK based tour operator Dive Worldwide are introducing a conservation holiday that monitors the mantas in Raja Ampat, an archipelago of islands in eastern Indonesia, at the epicentre of the Coral Triangle.
Indonesia boasts the second-largest manta tourism industry in the world, making the species vital for many communities relying on ecotourism for their livelihood. However, manta rays are a highly threatened species as they are targeted for their gill plates which are sold as a medicinal tonic on the Asian market, despite no scientifically proven health benefits. Although there is clear evidence that stocks are in decline, these fisheries continue to increase their fishing efforts, posing a huge threat to the survival of manta populations.
Dive Worldwide offers its new trip in association with the Manta Trust which continues to research and monitor the Indonesian manta population and works closely with local communities to increase awareness and support of alternative, sustainable incomes.
Guy Stevens, chief executive of Dive Worldwide’s new partner in conservation, the Manta Trust,commented: “Manta rays are an iconic species; they symbolise what is at stake if we choose not to protect our oceans and their inhabitants for our future generations. The Indonesian Government’s decision to legally protect manta rays is a great step along the road to effective conservation of these increasingly vulnerable species. I applaud the government for this positive action and I strongly urge other nations to follow in their footsteps.”
New Dive Worldwide Conservation Trips in Partnership with the Manta Trust
As the only UK tour operator to work in partnership with the Manta Trust, Dive Worldwide has introduced the following trips to its Just Conservation programme in Indonesia and elsewhere:
Monitoring Mantas in Raja Ampat, Indonesia: This trip invites divers to explore the underwater paradise of Raja Ampat in Indonesia. From a luxurious liveaboard vessel, visitors can take on the role of research assistant, monitoring manta rays, collecting data, taking underwater photographs to identify them, or naming one if it’s unknown. Dive up to three times per day.
Price: An 11-day trip costs from £4,865 pp inc. international flights and full board accommodation. Group size 1 – 10. Recommended for experienced divers.
Manta Research in Yap: Head to Micronesia to join the Manta Trust, where time is divided between a superb liveaboard in pristine waters and on shore diving. Research assistants use diving skills to help identify manta populations and to collect habitat data. As no other liveaboards exist in the area, it is possible to explore waters where no divers have previously been.
Price: A 14-day trip costs from £5,385 pp inc. international flights, transfers, and 12 nights’ lodge / liveaboard accommodation. Departs 30 June & 7 July 2014. Group size 1 – 10. Recommended for experienced divers.
Manta Monitoring in the Maldives: working alongside expert Dr Guy Stevens (founder of the Manta Trust), the team will cruise the less explored Baa Atoll, a UNESCO World Biosphere Reserve, on board The Explorer, a luxury Four Seasons liveaboard. While taking on the role of research assistant, witness the incredible mass feeding natural phenomenon, and study both reef and giant oceanic manta rays – with aggregations of up to 150 mantas. Divers are also likely to see hawksbill and green turtles, whale sharks, honeycomb moray eel, Napoleon wrasse, scorpion fish, titan trigger fish, schooling banner fish and colourful coral reefs.
Price: A 10-day trip costs from £5,325pp inc. international flights, 7 nights’ full board on the liveaboard, all transfers, and up to 4 dives daily. Departs 20 August & 10 September 2014.
All prices are per person based on two sharing and include a donation of £100 to the Manta Trust.
For further information visit www.diveworldwide.com or call 0845 1306980.
Diving with… Ana and Miguel, Siladen Resort & Spa, Indonesia
In this ongoing series, we speak to the people who run dive centres, resorts and liveaboards from around the world about their businesses and the diving they have to offer…
Ana and Miguel
What is the name of your business?
Siladen Resort & Spa
What is your role within the business?
Co owners and General Managers
How long has the business operated for?
Almost 20 years.
How long have you dived for, and what qualification are you?
Miguel has dived since 1993 and Ana has dived since 2002. We are both Open Water Scuba Instructors.
What is your favorite type of diving?
We love all dive types, especially wall diving for the wonderful corals and looking out into the blue wondering what other animals will come up next. But as an UW photographer and videographer we both love critter hunting in the sandy slopes. We are both very fond of night dives as we always find interesting animals and different behaviour.
If you could tell people one thing about your business (or maybe more!) to make them want to visit you what would it be?
We have a wonderful location in the heart of Bunaken National Park and we have an amazing team that provides the best service to each guest. We are a fun dive resort; we constantly strive to be as sustainable as possible and safety is our number one priority. If you like sea turtles and beautiful coral reefs you cannot miss this area for diving or snorkelling.
What is your favorite dive in your location and why?
If we have to choose one wall we would say Mandolin as it has beautiful and healthy corals with a wonderful and shallow reef top. We love to search for turtles in the overhangs, look for long nose hawkfish in the black coral bushes, admire the schooling snappers, and spend a long safety stop on the coral gardens on the top that are full of anthias. For critter hunting and night dives we both love Bolung. Here we can find frogfish, ghostpipefishes and nudibranchs, plus at night we often find decorator crabs, octopus and even stargazers on its white sandy slope.
What types of diving are available in your location?
There are very shallow coral reefs surrounding all five islands within Bunaken National Parkpark — beyond the shallow reef, the seabed drops away very quickly, forming the beautiful walls that Bunaken is famed for. Many of these walls are vertical with huge caverns and overhangs, however some are more gentle slopes that allow more reef building corals to form. On the North Sulawesi mainland there are black sand sites that allow amazing muck diving. Close by, we also have white sand sites, which offer some beautiful coral reefs and gentle slopes. There is even a fairly intact (entirely sponge encrusted) wreck within easy access of the resort.
What do you find most rewarding about your current role?
Working together in a dive resort that welcomes divers and snorkellers from around the world and sharing with them our passion for diving, snorkeling and uw photography and video is a great pleasure. Besides we have the privilege to dive and snorkel at world class sites every week.
What is your favorite underwater creature?
We both love cephalopods in general for their intelligence, capacity to camouflage, change colors and patterns…. We are fortunate enough to have many encounters with cephalopods in this area, from the tiny bobtail squid to the wonderful broadclub cuttlefish, the flamboyant cuttlefish, squids and Ana even filmed reef octopus mating. We could watch cephalopods for ever. And although we see them often, Ana has a soft spot for turtles.
As a center what is the biggest problem you face at the moment?
The biggest problem we all face as divers and nature lovers is climate change and pollution. We need to work on these issues locally but even more importantly we need to address these issues worldwide.
Is your center involved in any environmental work?
Yes, we clean our beach daily and we organise very frequent island clean-ups. Not only do we clean this area, but we also separate the garbage trying to send as much as we possibly can to be recycled. We often have activities together with local school children to help bring awareness of the dangers of plastic pollution. We reduce our single plastic use as much as possible and all our vegetables and fruit peel leftovers are composted. We also protect the nests of turtles that hatch on our beach.
Are there any exciting changes / developments coming up in the near future?
We are partnering with Coral Eye Resort in Bangka Island so that guests can have the best service in the best areas of North Sulawesi. We are getting one more boat; we want to make sure our boats are never crowded, besides we keep working to maintain and improve all our facilities.
How do you see the SCUBA / Freediving / snorkeling industry overall? What changes would you make?
The industry is doing well and I am happy to see that there are more and more avid snorkellers and not only scuba divers. We would like to see more ocean protection worldwide to ensure the future generations get to enjoy the beautiful reef corals and marine life around the world.
Finally, what would you say to our visitors to promote the diving you have to offer?
We give you a chance to explore some of the best snorkelling and diving sites in the world while providing you with comfortable accommodation, wonderful food and the best service. Staying in Siladen Resort & Spa you can do up to four dives or snorkelling sessions every day with very experienced guides, while staying in a safe and comfortable resort that aims to provide the best service to each guest.
Where can our visitors find out more about your business?
Visit our website www.siladen.com, find us on Instagram and Facebook (Siladen Resort & Spa) and contact us:
WA +62 811 44300641
Jeff chats to… Paul Cox, CEO of the Shark Trust about the Big Shark Pledge (Watch Video)
The Big Shark Pledge aims to build one of the biggest campaigning communities in the history of shark conservation. To put pressure on governments and fisheries. And make the positive changes required to safeguard awesome sharks and rays.
Rather listen to a podcast? Listen to the audio HERE on the new Scubaverse podcast channel at Anchor FM.
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