Known as a beautiful island in the tropical country of Indonesia, Bali is rich with its various traditions, cultures, beaches, sacred places, as well as temples. With the diversity in its marine life, this “thousands of temples” island is also popular with the coral reefs hiding under the sea.
It was beautiful morning in the Serangan Island, a small island that lies off the Bali coastline and finally connected through a bridge after the massive reclamation project in the 1990s. It’s located near Sanur area, around 7 kilometers from the Denpasar downtown. Years ago, it was the place where turtles came and hatched their eggs on its golden sand. That is why it was known as “Turtle Island” rather than its original name.
Time went by and the fishermen there were struggling for daily life by selling the corals they dig out from under the sea. They didn’t have any choices that time, but to feed their families, without considering its consequences to the environment.
Since 2002, fishermen under the Karya Segara community have been focusing their projects in conserving the coral reefs, as well as the sea horses they found. It was not an easy task to do when the needs of feeding the family came to be the number one issue. However, the project became a big success when Mr. I Wayan Patut led the project and offered a program of planting the coral reefs and adopting the sea horses to attract tourists.
“Coral reef tourism” has becomes an attractive educational option for children and adults. Learning the life of sea horses is another interesting program that might tickle your brain by knowing that sea horses are the only animal in the planet which the males are the ones who get pregnant! At the end of the program, you are allowed to adopt sea horses to be released in the ocean.
You will also learn how to plant the fresh corals into a planting media called a substrate as a mixture of grated Styrofoam, sand and cement. The use of Styrofoam in this substrate-making is one of the projects that focus on saving the environment. Once the substrate with a fresh coral is ready to be planted under the sea on the “concrete table” provided, you are allowed to write your name on a piece of plastic with a permanent ink to be hanged in your coral so that one day you will find it easily which one is yours. Then, it’s time to dive a bit into the ocean with the depth of 1.5 to 2.5 meters to plant your corals. The corals will grow within one to three months and will be ready to be cut for another coral planting projects. At the end of the program, you can release your adopted sea horses into the ocean to bring them back to their habitats.
For those who might want to try this “save the coral reefs” project, it is suggested to pick the day after a full moon where the water is cleaner and shallower. The best time for planting the coral reefs is usually around 9 am or 3 pm. If possible, bring your underwater camera to capture the best moment of planting and conserving the coral reefs.
Debby Lukito G. lives in Denpasar – Bali, Indonesia with her husband, Alainsoen, her children Patricia (11), and Vanessa (8), and a Brazilian turtle named Mumu.