Today was the first day of the 2018 MantaWatch Internship Programme. Over the past 7 years, MantaWatch has trained 25 young leaders who are now championing marine conservation issues in Indonesia. In this, our seventh programme, we welcome four new interns to our team.
This year we received more than 75 applications to MIP. But amongst these very high-quality applicants, four stood out and have been awarded a Guy Joseph Award supported by Guy’s Trust. They each bring exceptional experiences in different areas of marine conservation that complement each and will form a strong team.
Corina Ruswanti has a B.Sc Marine Science from Diponegoro University, Indonesia. Her undergraduate research used DNA markers to investigate the genetic diversity of corals in Raja Ampat, West Papua. In 2017 Corina produced an award-winning short environmental documentary and was selected by the Young Southeast Asia Leaders Initiative to join an environmental filmmaking workshop in the Philippines.
Firmansyah Tawang is a student of marine science at Kutai Timur Agricultural College. He has worked with the Indonesia Biodiversity Research Center to investigate coral reef diversity, monitored turtle populations with the Natural Resources Conservation Center of Berau, and participated in whale shark conservation efforts with the German international development agency GIZ, WWF-Indonesia, and Whale Shark Indonesia.
Irfan Thofiq Firdaus is a final year student of Marine Science at the University of Brawijaya. Irfan received a gold medal in the 29th National Student Scientific Week for his research into sustainable fishing technologies with fishermen of East Java. He worked as a Site Observer for WWF-Indonesia where he helped to develop the Electro Shield System, a technology to prevent shark bycatch. Together with his fellow students, Irfan launched the School of Coastal Environment – a marine and fisheries based education project – which in 2018 successfully received a small grant from the US State Department.
Revani Utami is a final year Marine Science and Technology student at Bogor Agricultural University. Her undergraduate research investigated the nesting habitats of green and hawksbill turtles. As a volunteer during the two-week Nusantara Jaya expedition, Revani organized beach and village cleanups, delivered community training on waste disposal, and educated elementary school children about their local marine life. In March 2018 Revani worked with Banyan Tree Bintan Conservation Lab where she led birdwatching tours and nature walks, and delivered conservation talks to resort guests.
Our program began this morning in the classroom with an introduction to MantaWatch and an overview of our programme over the coming weeks. Then this year’s mentors, Vidlia Rosady (MIP-2013) and Tri Sujatmiko (MIP-2016), led us in identifying the personal and professional goals that we each hope to achieve by the end of the programme. After an introduction to scientific diving and diving safety, Miko guided the interns through an introductory seminar about conservation communications and how to ensure that key messages are appropriate for the target audiences.
It’s been a busy first day, and we haven’t even mentioned mantas yet! But our first day has established some important foundations, and with the exceptional abilities they have already shown, I’m looking forward to seeing what Corina, Firman, Irfan and Revani achieve over the next four weeks, and beyond.