Hey, nice to meet you!
Like most scuba divers, we’re big shark lovers. Since we live at the center of the Coral Triangle in Indonesia, we should be seeing one of the most diverse collections of sharks found in the world on a daily basis. Yet, we don’t.
Our solution? We designed an award-winning holiday package specially built for people that would like to learn more about marine conservation. We work in close partnership with a local NGO called Gili Matra Bersama and assist their research team with marine conservation, coral restoration, and community outreach programs.
We created a place in the heart of our Gili Air community for people who want to make their next holiday count. All year round we host researchers, scientists, and ocean lovers from all over the world that want to really make a difference and be part of the solution!
During your stay with us, you will learn how to dive or improve your dive skills, you will become a certified PADI Scientific Diver and PADI Aware Shark Specialist, as well as join the research team of NGO Gili Matra Bersama on their research dives!
You will also assist with the community outreach programs of NGO Gili Matra Bersama like beach clean-ups and underwater cleanups, community workshops, and their Plastic Free Paradise Campaign.
Gili Shark Conservation is partly using the profit of their holiday package to execute community outreach programs as well as fund research, scholarship programs, and staff Yayasan Gili Matra Bersama
how did it all start?
The beginning of our story
Once upon a time, 2012 to be exact, a girl named Rose arrived on Gili Air in Indonesia and instantly fell in love with the magical island. She found a job as a scuba dive instructor and started calling the ocean her office. She found a secret getaway in the middle of the island called Villa Nangka and started calling it her home. And there, under the Nangka tree, she fell in love again.
I didn’t plan on falling in love with him. And I’m pretty sure he didn’t plan on falling in love with me. But one day it was pretty clear that neither of us could control what was happening to us.
Rose, Co-Founder Gili Shark Conservation
The name of the man that stole her heart was Andreas, a freedive instructor that came to the island in the same year as she did.
Buying our Dream
In September 2015 Rose and Andreas found out that Villa Nangka, the place that they both call home, the place where they fell in love, was for sale. They looked at each other and started dreaming about how amazing it would be if they could buy the place. But with hardly any savings, no fixed contracts, and no assets, which bank would be so nice to give them a loan?
First rule in life: If you don’t go after what you want, you’ll never have it. Rose & Andreas went from daydreaming to actively making plans. After two months of hard work, they got the money together to buy their dream.
The start of gili shark conservation
For Rose and Andreas buying the place where they fell in love and which they call their home away from home was a dream come true. Not only because it gave them the opportunity to offer people a unique place to stay on Gili Air, but also because it gave them the opportunity to give something back to the island that gave so much to them.
Together with another ocean lover, they started Gili Shark Conservation, a project filled with passion and engagement for the ocean and its marine life.
Becoming a part of the first-ever worldwide survey of sharks
When I started Gili Shark Conservation with my friends, I didn’t have all of the knowledge I thought I needed or the years of experience. What I had was a powerful intention, a lot of energy, and the desire to be part of the solution. I didn’t want to stand on the sidelines and watch other people try to solve a problem for which we are all responsible.
Rose, Co-Founder Gili Shark Conservation
In 2016 we became part of the first-ever worldwide survey of sharks on coral reefs called Global Finprint. Global FinPrint is a Paul G. Allen initiative led by researchers at Florida International University. United researchers and collaborators from around the world to use baited remote underwater video system (BRUVS) surveys. These surveys assessed sharks, rays, and other marine life on coral reefs on a global scale for the first time.
120 researchers | 400 reefs | 58 countries | with over 20,000 hours of footage!
Their first global analysis, published in Nature, found that sharks were absent on nearly 20 percent of the reefs surveyed. Reef sharks were largely absent in several nations that exhibited high human population density and poor governance of marine resources. This highlighted the importance of working with local people and governments to address root social and economic causes of overfishing.
Getting to know the turtles around the gili islands
We are lucky enough that it’s almost guaranteed to see a turtle whenever we go diving. Some people will even call the Gili Islands the turtle capital of the world. This is great as Hawksbill Turtles (Eretmochelys imbricata) are classified as critically endangered globally, and Green Turtles (Chelonia mydas) are endangered. Yet, they both thrive around the Gili Islands in Indonesia.
In July 2016, we decided to start collecting data about these beautiful creatures because of their economic and ecological roles on the Gili Islands.
It’s our goal to assist the research team of our local partner NGO Gili Matra Bersama with identifying and monitoring the Green and Hawksbill turtles in the Gili Matra Marine Park to help them create a safe haven for turtle nests.
Expanding our impact
In early 2019 we took off on a field trip to Nusa Lembongan to meet with Blue Corner Conservation. Thanks to Andrew C.F Taylor of Blue Corner Dive we had an amazing few days learning about coral restoration and underwent full training in how to conduct this remarkable method. Back home on Gili Air, we immediately started preparing for our own coral restoration project which we launched in the summer of 2019 by deploying the first 60 hex domes.
The start of coral catch
Women’s rights have always been a topic close to Rose’s heart and in 2021, she had an ‘aha moment.’ What if she would combine her two passions: female empowerment and conservation and set up the first completely female local coral restoration team in Indonesia?
Rose shared her idea with her husband, some close friends, and some people in her network. Most of them started laughing. “Rose, that will never work!” “You will never find enough girls that are able to do the job.”, “Their families will never allow them to be away from home”, “This is the biggest Muslim country in the world, the girls would not feel comfortable wearing swimwear and you cannot go diving with a hijab”, “Indonesian people hate to be in the sun as it changes the color of the skin and having ‘dark skin’ is for the lower class.” and the list of reasons why it would never work went on and on.
The more people that told Rose that it wouldn’t be possible, the more motivated she got to go for it. Because in the end, the people who are crazy enough to think that they can change the world, are the ones who do. She shared her idea of offering local women a coral restoration scholarship on Facebook and Instagram and more than 150 women (!!) applied.
We began training the first group of four Indonesian women in September 2021. In the next five years, we hope to empower 100 Indonesian women to pursue a career in marine conservation through our coral restoration scholarships.
Back to work!
After being closed for almost two years due to the pandemic, we restarted our project in April 2022 and have been going strong ever since! We’ve got a lot of plans, dreams, and goals for the future and can’t wait to add more exciting updates to this timeline. Stay tuned!