From setting up a paradise resort for visitors to Gili Air, to receiving a prestigious award for their work on shark and coral conservation, Rose and her husband, Andreas, have got island living down to a fine art.
In 2015 Rose and her husband bought a little paradise called Villa Nangka. In the same year, together with a friend, they also started The Gili Shark Conservation Project. “It was just three friends who shared a huge passion for the ocean, and we all lived on the island,” Rose smiles. “The reefs surrounding the Gili Islands were changing rapidly and we saw fewer and fewer sharks on our dives. We thought it would be really cool if we could start something together instead of just standing on the side-line and watch how other people try to solve a problem which we are all responsible for. So we did!” “We were always dreaming about how we could change the world and now we had the tools to do something.” She explains the reasoning behind setting up two businesses at the same time. “We thought that one project could become quite boring, so why not do two?” They decided to dedicate one of the five luxury villas at Villa Nangka to guests who want to join the conservation project.
GSC set up a website, inviting people to join their research team a few years ago. “We never thought it would actually happen!” Rose explains. She remembers that they had responses almost immediately. Fast-forward to today. They have now hosted over 100 ‘Shark Warriors’ from 30 different countries, all of whom are dedicated to taking care of our oceans. The research team of GSC share their findings with the local government and international partners to make them aware of the conditions and environmental changes, highlighting areas that are suffering to encourage action and implement change where necessary.
They also use their data to build a case strong enough to prove to government officials that this area is a critical habitat for black tip and white tip reef sharks and deserves official recognition of this to improve protection within the area for these species. They now use seven different methodsto assess the health of the reef and the sharks. They educate local school children about conservation and also manage ‘Dive for Debris’ sessions every Friday. They are currently seeking new teachers who would love to tell the children of Gili Air all about conservation. It is not just people on the island who appreciate the work they’re doing.
GSC recently won an award in recognition for their conservation efforts from the International SeaKeepers Society, an NGO committed to oceanographic research, conservation and education. They have even agreed to sponsor GSC’s latest project. “In a secret location somewhere around Gili Air, we will start a coral restoration project” Rose beams. “We plan to use a new method we discovered while researching in nearby Nusa Lembongan.”
If you fancy being involved, check out their Gili Shark Conservation website. It is extensive and informative and once you have browsed through the information; you would definitely want to be part of this awesome team. Check out their community events schedule online or pop over to Villa Nangka for a chat for further inspiration and information. Make sure you take your fins, as you will want to dive straight in…