What it Means to be a Scientific Scuba Diver

Most likely, the reason you want to  join the Gili Shark Conservation Project is that you care about the marine environment. One of the best parts of our program is that although we are a marine research center, you don’t need a marine science background to be able to help!

But with the PADI Scientific Diver Specialty course, you’ll be officially recognized for all the hard work that you’ve put into helping us collect our data. With Gili Shark Conservation, you’ll be making a difference, and you’ll earn a PADI specialty that no other organization can offer!


Marine Conservation at work

The data that you help us collect during your time with Gili Shark Conservation greatly contributes to our database helping us prove that the Gili Matra Marine Park is indeed a shark nursery. This data is crucial in our research because it helps us build a case to the Indonesian government that the waters around the Gili Islands need to be protected, and stay protected.

During your time at the project, you will become a full-fledged member of our research team. You’ll conduct roving survey dives and learn what species indicate a healthy reef where sharks thrive. You’ll also learn how to identify different species of turtles, sharks, and rays, as well as the gender of the animal. Learning to become a research team member with the Gili Shark Conservation project will take two days, and a lot of dedication from you as a diver.

The only place in the world where you do the PADI Scientific Diver Specialty

We wanted to give our participants proof of this hard work. This is why we worked alongside PADI to create the Scientific Diver Specialty. We are currently the only organisation in the world who is able to teach this specialty, meaning that everyone who joins the Gili Shark Conservation Project will earn something that only a few divers in the world have earned.

What is the course about?

During your course to become a PADI Scientific Diver, the first thing you’ll need to learn is how to master your buoyancy. Having good buoyancy is one of the most crucial skills as you’ll need to be able to write on a slate during data collection. Being able to write underwater while maintaining proper buoyancy is actually a lot more difficult than one might expect. Without mastering this skill, you have a greater risk of putting yourself in danger, and you might knock into the reef – which is the last thing a marine conservation organization should have divers doing!

At Gili Shark Conservation Project, we clearly love sharks

So, as a scientific diver you’ll learn how to identify sharks and their behavior. During a survey training dive, you’ll record any shark you see, and by the end of your course, you’ll be able to discern the shark’s gender. Because the Gili Matra Marine Park is a shark nursery, most of the sharks we see here are juveniles or pregnant females, which is very important to record for our data set.

Can you name all the fish indicator species?

So what exactly will you be writing on these slates? During our roving survey dives, we write down all of the indicator species that need to be present in a healthy reef for sharks. Before you arrive to Gili Air, you’ll receive a pre-arrival study guide. This guide has all of the species that you’ll need to know to conduct these roving survey dives.

During surveys, you’ll record the species, size, sex, time and depth that you see these fish. The indicator species that we look for are species of groupers, snappers, emperors, and trevallies. Fish identification is a large aspect of what it means to be a scientific diver, and by the end of your course, you’ll be able to identify these fish in the water!

Did you see the black tip shark on the BRUV footage?

You’ll use this knowledge of indicator species when it comes to roving surveys, but also when you watch our Baited Remote Underwater Video Camera (BRUV) footage. The BRUV is used to record any sharks that might be in the area – Blacktip reef sharks are more commonly seen on our BRUV footage than while we are diving, because they tend to be a little bit  shyer. During your scientific diver course, you’ll see how the BRUV is deployed and recovered as well as help record the data for each BRUV drop. After the BRUV footage has been taken, we watch the footage and record all of the indicator species that also might make an appearance!

Marine Conservation is for everyone

One of the great things about the Scientific Diver Specialty, is that every level of diver can earn this certification. At the Gili Shark Conservation Project, we see a wide range of certification levels come through our doors. If you are a brand new diver and have just done your Open Water course or a seasoned Divemaster, you can still learn how to be a scientific diver and be a marine conservationist!

So, are you ready for your next adventure?  Sign up and become a Scientific Scuba Diver and a “Shark Warrior” in paradise.