The diving expedition was undertaken at Menjangan Island, part of the Bali Barat Nature Reserve, North West Bali, Indonesia. An area of reefs considered the best in Bali for the species abundance and spectacular coral scenery and as such it has been designated a Marine Protected Area. On the 14 February 2011, Dr. Phillip Dustan and his team travelled there from Singapore in a renovated Yacht owned by the Biosphere Foundation, called Mir. The boat dropped anchor surrounded by Mangroves and mountains at the Tanjung Gelap Banyuwedang Bay on March 9th to begin their field research. The field research took four months.
The research aimed to survey and assesses the vitality of Menjangan Islands coral reefs within this Marine Protected Area. Menjangan, because of its reef quality and beauty, is unsurprisingly very popular with divers, receiving 50-100 plus per day and as such the economy of Bali is relying ever more on the natural beauty of the area. So, this was an excellent chance for Phillip and his team to explore the impact that human activity and exploitation as well as climatic changes were having on the reef habitat and its populations of fauna and flora. They did this by looking for relationships between species abundance and diversity in relation to the physical structure of the reef.
In doing this they were also evaluating the effectiveness of conservation efforts made since Menjangan Islands designation as a Marine Protected Area, by comparing results collected in this research with those obtained in previous reef studies of Menjangan reef.
During their expedition Phillip and the team worked closely with the Balinese on the Menjangan Island, in a bid to gain a greater understanding of the issues they face with the increasing pressures of rising exploitation of the reef. The work with this community was particularly important to educating and changing attitudes of those who make regular use of this ecosystem.
The expedition has already had a positive impact on the area. The interest of the locals in protecting the Menjangan reef meant that the Biosphere foundation was able to initiate a project called the ‘Friends of Menjangan’, where NGOs and local people have begun to work on protecting the Island and reef. The project is managed locally and membership includes all who visits the area. It is a project that has the potential to make a big impact on the vitality of the reef and Island ecosystem.
Data collection in the field at 11 sites along two transects at each site
Observation of species abundance
Assessment of the reef; its health, rugosity and level of damage
Measurements of sea temperature and pressure
Work with the local Balinese community and the ‘Friends of Menjangan’ to protect the island and reef ecosystem
Key topics and themes
Human and Physical Impact and damage to the reef ecosystem
Management of fragile coral reef ecosystem to protect the area whilst still enabling it to benefit the local and Balinese economy
Mitigation and work with the community to make educate and sustainable use of this environment
How are natural changes and humans impacting upon the diversity and abundance of flora and fauna in the reef ecosystem?
Is the Island and reef being managed sustainably?
Do further studies and actions need to be put in place to ensure the Menjangan’s continued prosperity and protection?
About the author
Amanda Bell is Head of Geography at Acle Academy in Norfolk, in her sixth year of teaching. She regularly attends Norfolk networks and is part of a working group of Geography teachers aiming to produce outstanding lesson resources to be shared with colleagues across the region. In 2010 she visited Hong Kong with a number of Norfolk Geography colleagues looking at responses to and teaching of climate change in schools and acted as an ambassador to create links for Norfolk schools. Between 2010 and 2012, Amanda, with other Norfolk teaching colleagues and her students, twice visited and has links with the Starahe Schools and Jericho Primary schools in Nairobi, Kenya.
Dr Phillip Dustan (University of Charleston and Biosphere Foundation) is a marine ecologist specialising in the ecology, vitality and remote sensing of corals and reef communities. He successfully gained the Ralph Brown Expedition Award through the RGS-IGB in 2011 to lead the Menjangan Island Reef Project in Bali, Indonesia. The project seeks to preserve ocean biodiversity in Marine Protected Areas by defining the tipping point between reef degradation and collapse of fish populations.
'From the field' Awards - Inspiring fieldwork supported by the RGS-IBG
Delivered in collaboration with The Goldsmiths' Company, these awards enable geography teachers to work alongside practioners at the cutting edge of geographical research to develop educational resources for the classroom.