My life after the Gili Shark Conservation Project – by Nico
I joined the Gili Shark Conservation Project on April 2016 when I was 18 years old. Indonesia was my first destination as a Solo traveler. I left my home country of Argentina in search for a life closer to the ocean and of respect towards nature in daily life.
A more fulfilling lifestyle with doing what I love. Two years have gone since, and back in 2016 I had no Idea that Gili Shark conservation would provide the tools and base knowledge that would take me to the waters of Indonesia, Fiji, Kiribati, Tuvalu, Tonga and the Philippines.
From (almost) zero to Hero
When I arrived in Gili I had only one dive, done in the Caribbean. After two months in the project I had done my open water, advanced, and rescue courses, along with education on scientific diving and sharks. And because of a foot infection that kept me out of the water for a week, the project invited me to do an extra course, which was freediving, and I absolutely loved it.
After my time as a volunteer with Gili Shark ended, I headed straight to do my dive master training In the Togean Islands, Sulawesi. The knowledge of fish identification from the survey dives with the Gili Shark Conservation Project came very handy when identifying fish when I was guiding. All my customers were very curious to know what they saw on the dive and it was so easy for me to tell them. With them I could also share what I learned about sharks, their undeserved reputations and the threats they face.
Always say Yes to new Adventures
After becoming a dive master, I travelled to Flores with a friend, making fires on the beach, sleeping under starry skies and practicing the freediving I had learned in Gili Air. It was time for something new, I left Indonesia and went to Nepal. 6 months went by living a very different atmosphere in Nepal, a landlocked country, facing different challenges than those of the ocean. But soon after I was back In Indonesia, I continued my free diving training.
You can choose any wind to go in any direction
Wanting to start practicing my dive master, I started working as a crew member of a large sailing boat that had a compressor, and was going through Micronesia and Polynesia. Joining the ship in Kiribati, a small Island nation that is slowly but surely being swallowed by the ocean, we sailed and dived through the island nation’s atolls, discovering what wonders the oceans harbour when not being destroyed by overfishing. After this, we headed to the country of Tuvalu and after a week’s crossing, The Kingdom of Tonga. This allowed me to gain experience leading the crew on exploratory dives on different countries.
Months later, I furthered my free diving education in the Philippines and after a visit to Argentina I came back to Indonesia. First headed to Sulawesi, to dive with good friends, and later guided dives for a local dive shop in Raja Ampat, a true paradise.
Back to my roots
After two years and change, I am now back In Gili Air, and with the great people in it. The island and the conservation project where it all started. I am very grateful to be a part of Gili Shark Conservation project. An amazing project ran by people whom heart and vision are making a positive change in Gili Air and the sea around it. With a growing tourist flow, it was a surprise to find on my return that beaches and dive sites are cleaner than two years ago, back when the Gili Shark Conservation Project was starting to do beach clean ups with the community.
I am also grateful of the skills and knowledge it provided to me, being a base for everything that came after it, and everything that is to come.