Diving in Bali with ISKL
At the end of October 2015, Bali Diving Academy Pemuteran played host to 19 students and 3 teachers from the International School in Kuala Lumpur, to give them a taste of some of the best diving and snorkeling in Indonesia.This annual event was even more special this year, because it coincided with the Buleleng Dive Festival, which also took place in Pemuteran.
The main aim of the ISKL week was to raise the environmental awareness of the students, whose ages ranged from 14 to 16 years. To help with this, we invited British marine biologist, Jamie Watts, who is normally working as a guide on Arctic and Antarctic trips, to share his experience with the students. He also helped students to prepare talks on various topics, which had to be presented to the rest of the group during the week.
A big part of our focus was on the Biorock Project, which is situated right in front of Bali Diving Academy. This year the students chose the design of an octopus, which was made out of reinforcing steel bars that were bent into the right shapes and welded together. Students had a chance to try their hands at welding, and they also learned how to shape their names with thick metal wire and how to attach it to the structure. Once it was complete, everyone changed into traditional Balinese dress and attended a blessing ceremony for the new ISKL octopus.
The next day students were challenged to figure out how to move their structure into position in the water and how to sink it in the right place, by using rope and floating drums as well as diving and snorkeling equipment. It was interesting to see all the different ideas coming out of the discussion and a few heads were butted, but finally they decided on the best solution and everyone got in the water for the practical part. It was a very proud group that could finally pose for some photos next to their underwater structure!
The purpose of the Biorock structures, are to form foundations for a man-made coral reef. To speed up the process we collected broken coral fragments from other parts of the reef and attached the fragments to the octopus structure. Each student got to attach a fragment next to their name, as part of the "Adopt a baby coral project". The structure was connected to a platform with solar power panels, and this provided the energy needed to speed up coral growth on the structure. Hopefully this time next year, we will see big, healthy corals on the ISKL octopus!
We wanted the students to explore some of the most beautiful reefs in Bali, so we did some dives and snorkeling sessions in Pemuteran bay and also arranged a daytrip to Menjangan island. Everyone thoroughly enjoyed the spectacular diving and snorkeling in Menjangan and, to give a bit back to the environment, we did a beach cleanup on the island that afternoon. The rubbish (mainly different types of plastic) that we collected was transferred to big bags and the students took it with them to Ubud, where they visited a recycling facility. It was very interesting to learn what could be recycled and what happened to all the rubbish.
Unfortunately all good things have to come to an end and, after spending a week together with some wonderful people, we had to say our goodbyes and send them home. We are hopeful that they left with a better understanding of some of the environmental issues we face all over the world, and that they will use this knowledge when interacting with family and friends in the future!