Exploring the deep reefs off the North-East coast of Bali to investigate the potential existence of deep cleaning stations, visited by emblematic species of fish such as the bump-head sunfish, Mola alexandrini. This project, supported by a grant from the National Geographic Society and the French Embassy in Indonesia, is conducted in close collaboration with Universitas Udayana, Bali, Indonesia.
Alexis Chappuis is a French marine biologist, technical scientific diver and amateur photographer. He has conducted various marine ecological studies worldwide during his career, logging hours on and under the sea. After spending more than 4 years living and working in Indonesia for an environmental consulting company, he recently co-founded the French-based non-profit organisation UNSEEN (“Underwater Scientific Exploration for Education”).
He uses close-circuit rebreathers for the exploration and study of poorly known underwater ecosystems, particularly Mesophotic Coral Ecosystems (MCEs). In 2018, he has been awarded grants from the National Geographic Society and the French Embassy in Indonesia to conduct this pioneering research project on deep reef habitats, off the North-East coast of Bali, Indonesia. Starting in February 2019, the aims will be to investigate the connectivity of these deep coral ecosystems and their roles and importance for emblematic megafauna species such as the Bump-head sunfish, Mola alexandrini.
The better we know, the better we can preserve. From this belief, Alexis’ work is to raise awareness on the importance, but also the vulnerabilities, of these poorly-known MCEs. He hopes that this project will shed light on those elusive, yet crucial, environments and will open new research and conservation perspectives. One of them would be to include deep coral ecosystems in future marine protected areas, in order to fight more efficiently the current dramatic erosion of marine biodiversity and improve the global coral reef and coastal ecosystems resilience.
Alexis is the project leader on this expedition and is working closely with his Indonesian counter-part, Dr. I Gede Hendrawan, and with Dr. Marianne Nyegaard for the scientific aspects. He will also be involved in every deep dive with Marc Crane and in charge of documenting the deep reef habitats and fish behaviours observed at those depths, thanks to underwater photography.
Dr. I Gede Hendrawan is a researcher and lecturer in the Department of Marine Sciences, Faculty of Marine Sciences and Fisheries, Udayana University, Bali. He is Indra's lecturer and scientific supervisor on the project.
His main field of expertise is on coastal and marine environments. Since 2005, he has published several papers related to coastal environment, its dynamic, seawater exchange, seawater circulation, coastal sedimentation and particle movement in the seawater. Beside his publications, he also received several grants for independent and team research. His research funds were notably dedicated to the study of socio-biophysics of coastal areas in Bali and of fisheries resources for fisheries sustainability in Karangasem regency, Bali. Gede is active as one of the scientific experts for Bali Province Government, particularly on the following topics: 1) Formulating the zonation plan for coastal area and small islands in Bali, 2) Formulating the zonation and management plan for marine protected area in Karangasem regency-Bali, and 3) Study for Ocean health index (OHI+) pilot project in Bali.
Thanks to his level of expertise in coastal environment, the crucial inputs he will bring to this project - especially regarding physical oceanography - and his interests and involvement in conservation plans on the island of Bali, Gede will be a keystone local counterpart in this work.
Dr. Marianne Nyegaard is an ocean sunfish researcher, avid scuba diver and ocean lover. She recently finished her PhD on sunfishes across Indonesia, Australia and New Zealand. During her PhD she spent three consecutive sunfish seasons on Nusa Lembongan, studying the seasonal Bali sunfish phenomenon with the aim to understand the relationship between the influx of sunfish and the large-scale oceanographic features influencing the Lombok Strait. During this time, she started the citizen science project “Bali Mola ID Catalogue”, and later co-founded the “Match My Mola” project (www.thebalisunfish.org). She was the recipient of a prestigious Endeavor Primer Ministers scholarship, allowing her to take time out from her PhD to satellite tag Bali sunfish and uncover their movements during the Bali sunfish season. Her venture of working across three countries also led to the discovery of a new species of sunfish – the first new sunfish species to be described in over 180 years – which she named the Hoodwinker sunfish (Mola tecta) to commemorate its long history of hiding from scientific discovery and recognition. Her taxonomic and genetic work on the ocean sunfishes also led to the clarification that the sunfish most commonly encountered off Bali is Mola alexandrini and not, as widely believed, Mola mola.
Marianne is currently based in Auckland, New Zealand, where she is looking at a local sunfish hot spot she found during the PhD, where plenty of “Bali molas” visit the productive waters off the North Island of New Zealand. She continues to publish on sunfishes, and is excited to discover what the “Cleaning Session in the Twilight Zone” project will uncover and teach us about the deep waters off Bali. It is important to note that her extensive sunfish knowledge and precious advices helped us design the project from the beginning and even though she won’t be joining us on the field (unfortunately), she will be involved during data analysis and later communication.
Gede Indra Putra Pratama is a bachelor student of the Marine Sciences Study Program, Faculty of Marine Sciences and Fisheries, Udayana University, Bali, Indonesia. During his education as a science student, he was involved in various projects and developed strong scientific skills around marine debris, conservation and scientific communication.
On the field, Indra will be in charge of measuring water column abiotic parameters, such as temperature, conductivity and depth by deploying a CTD probe from the boat. He will also assist the diving team during the shallow water deployment of light and temperature loggers. Back in the lab, he will analyse the oceanographic data collected for modelling purposes and be involved in various tasks, like the writing of articles and during communication events.
Originally from England’s South coast, Marc has been a professional scuba diver since 1996, when he passed his instructor rating while on a gap year in Kenya. Having worked in the industry in a variety of destinations for the last 2 decades, he has witnessed the human impacts on the marine environment globally. After coming to Indonesia for the first time in 2010, he quickly developed an interest in deep reef exploration and research. He is an active deep Mixed Gas CCR instructor, trainer for SSI and TDI, as well as IANTD. When not teaching, you will find him hanging around at -100m.
Thanks to his high level of knowledge and understanding of deep technical diving and its effects on the human physiology, Marc will be in charge of the diving logistic and safety during this challenging project. Working at those depth is adding more risks to the dive itself, therefore it is important to plan everything carefully and properly before getting in the water. It is also crucial to have reliable team members that you know and trust.