We’ve had a couple of very special days here in Pemuteran.  During a full day of diving and snorkeling, we visited the BioRock Reef Project.  While exploring the developing reefs, the divers had a rare sighting of a sea turtle and the snorkelers saw a squid!

The beautiful reef nearby Pemuteran. Photo by student Sam M.

The beautiful reef nearby Pemuteran. Photo by student Sam M.

The BioRock Project is an initiative to preserve and conserve the local beaches and habitats in the Pemuteran bay.  They do this by putting large structures made of rebar (a wire-like metal) in the water and connecting them to a power source to promote coral growth through electrochemical reactions in the water and the rebar.  The rebar attracts minerals out of the water and coral is able to grow 3 to 5 times faster than normal! This helps promote ocean health in the bay and helps attract more biodiversity.

Students and divers dropping the NG structure down in the ocean. Photo by trip leader Rachel Langosch.

Students and divers dropping the NG structure down in the ocean. Photo by trip leader Rachel Langosch.

Our group worked together to assemble our own structure and then install it in the ocean.  Our local friends created a large “NG” (for National Geographic) made of rebar and wire.  Then, we each created wire structures of our names and attached them to the structure.  We are now all officially part of the Bio Rock Project here in Pemuteran!

We’ve been having fun with our expert, Tierney Thys, too.  We’ve learned about the species she studies, the ocean sun fish, and she gave a great lecture on biological phyla.

Our view in Pemuteran. Photo by student Gwen S.

Our view in Pemuteran. Photo by student Gwen S.

The following day we had the opportunity to work with researchers from Reef Check and visit a marine turtle sanctuary.  Mario and Sebastian, two of the surveyors from Reef Check, showed us how they measure the health of coral reefs around the world using transects.  We then were able to run our own transects and collect data during one last snorkel.

Collecting data during our ocean transects for Reef Check.

Collecting data during our ocean transects for Reef Check.

Later in the afternoon, we visited the turtle hatchery, which began as a small project to save a few turtles and has blossomed into a 25 year-long project focused on working with local fishermen and villagers to protect and conserve local turtles.  We capped off the visit by releasing one of the turtles back into the ocean!

Students help release a sea turtle back into the ocean. Photo by trip leader Rachel Langosch.

Students help release a sea turtle back into the ocean. Photo by trip leader Rachel Langosch.

We’ve been having a ton of fun in the ocean, but now we’re off to Ubud where we’ll visit the Green School, one of the most sustainable places on the planet!