Restoring Coral Reefs in Bali
Coral reefs worldwide are rapidly disappearing due to climate change and other human impacts. Help researchers investigate whether artificial reef structures can mimic natural coral communities, thereby preserving the biodiversity, ecosystem services, and human communities that rely on coral reefs.
The small Indonesian island of Bali is known for its spectacular forested volcanoes, ancient Hindu temples, and breathtaking beaches. But one of the most alluring draws of this island is just below the ocean’s surface. Bali lies within the ‘coral triangle,’ an area recognized as the global center of marine biodiversity, and its reefs support a dazzling array of wildlife. Over the last several decades, however, some of Bali’s reef ecosystems have been heavily degraded by destructive fishing practices, warming ocean temperatures, pollution, and other human activities. Now, they’re struggling to survive.
This decline is concerning not only because of the animals that rely on the reef habitats and the important ecosystem functions the reefs perform but also for the local people who rely on these reefs for their livelihoods, including fishermen and tourism operators. To combat these impacts, scientists are investigating whether artificial reefs could be the answer to preserving biodiversity and ensuring local communities are resilient in the face of climate change.
While natural reef ecosystems can take thousands of years to grow and mature, artificial reefs can be made quickly from concrete and could mimic the important ecological and socio-economic functions of natural reefs. You’ll snorkel or scuba dive* in a locally established Marine Protected Area over both natural coral reefs and artificial reefs, surrounded by corals, sponges, reef fish, turtles, and rays to help researchers determine how closely fish communities, carbon cycling, and predator populations on artificial reefs match those on natural reefs.
On this expedition, you’ll not only witness the destruction plaguing reefs worldwide, but you’ll also have the opportunity to contribute to efforts to preserve the biodiversity and ecosystem functions reefs provide. With robust data on the benefits of these structures, the Indonesian government and governments worldwide will be better able to protect marine biodiversity and safeguard the livelihoods of coastal communities.
*Note: Certification is required for participation on scuba teams. See the project briefing for details.
Scuba Diving in Bali: What to Expect
Use your scuba skills for good! Certified divers will contribute to local reef conservation while exploring one of the world's top diving destinations. Bali, Indonesia, is a popular diving destination thanks to its year-round warm waters, calm beaches, and diverse marine life.
- Dive sites: Sand flats and artificial and natural reefs
- Entry type: Shore and boat entries from traditional outrigger Balinese fishing boats, also known as "Jukungs." These boats require participants to enter and exit the water using a ladder.
- Maximum depth: 60 ft/18 m
- Water temperature: Typically hovers around low to mid-80 °F or 27°C
- Average visibility: Varies according to daily conditions and ranges between 50 and 100 ft (15 and 30 m)
- Marine life: The area is home to many reef fish species, hard and soft corals, starfish, rays, and marine turtles. Sightings vary by day and by dive site.
- Number of dives: Approximately two per day
- Dive gear: Contribution cost includes using BCD, regulator, and tanks for the duration of the expedition. Participants are required to bring their personal dive computers. Participants are strongly advised to bring their portable equipment, including snorkel, mask, fins, dive boots or neoprene socks, a long-sleeved rash guard, full-length leggings, or a 3mm wetsuit.
A Typical Itinerary
- Day 1: Arrive
- Days 2–6: Orientation & training. Snorkel/dive surveys, deploy video units, analyze photo and video data
- Day: 7 Depart
You also have the option of joining a two-week team.
HOW YOU WILL HELP
Field conditions and research needs can change the itinerary and activities. We appreciate your cooperation and understanding.
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