Cendrawasih National Park Trip with Jim Leape, Claudio Segre, & Lida Pet-Soede
Trip with Jim Leape &
A Photo Journal
By Lida Pet-Soede
After several flights hopping the islands of Indonesia’s extensive archipelago,
we arrived at Wasior in Papua, where WWF has a Field Station and where we
stepped on the Gurano Bintang education boat.
The Gurano Bintang – whale shark in the local language – would be
our floating home for a few days. It tours the largest (>1.4 million
ha) Marine National Park in Indonesia, providing environmental
education for local schools.
Mr Segre is welcomed at Napan Yaur village, where a community conservation
cadre of 20 people protect their bay and surrounding waters.
The traditional welcome includes placing our feet on the sand,
which symbolizes that we are friends. We also danced around the
communal area a few times, accompanied by thundering drums
and many kids.
The local band sings about the importance of the ocean and reefs and we
enjoy a “light” snack, which includes three types of starchy Sago AND grilled
The community asks us to consider replacing their dysfunctional alternative energy
system and options for small-scale ecotourism activities around their village.
As we leave, the kids from Napan Yaur guide us out of the
Back on board we get a briefing by the field team and WWF whale shark coordinator,
Cassandra, about their work with Brent Steward on whale shark migration and needs
for conservation of these gentle giants.
The lift net fishers, who operate their nets and lights at night to catch small
pelagic fish, know the whale sharks well as these gentle giants circle their boat
platforms for an easy meal.
It takes only a second to put on our snorkel gear and we
swim with these magnificent creatures for hours.
Jim Leape and Lida in a close encounter with the whale shark
as it enjoys its break fast.
The water is so clear that we see the whale sharks
come up from the deep to get a snack of yesterday’s
Whale sharks (Rhincodon typus) are slow-
moving filter feeders and the largest known fish
Whale sharks move so effortlessly. The largest
recorded individual is almost 13 meters. This
one must be about 7 meters.
Three whale sharks moving about with large
It feels like I entered a completely different
In Cendrawasih National Park, the coastal ecosystems are mostly
intact. Coastal flats and mangroves are important fish nursery
Place caption here A nice option to come back to with my family—Kali
Lemon Homestay: www.hiniotanibre.com
A quiet coastal village near Roon. Local children will come
aboard Gurano Bintang for a lesson on sea turtles.
More than 1,000 children (and some of their parents) have
joined the WWF environmental education program in
Cendrawasih so far.
The children learn why sea turtles are important to protect; sing songs
about the ocean; and jump overboard to swim home after a healthy snack.
This village uses sea turtles traditionially, but the children are keen to
tell their parents to protect these majestic creatures from now on.
Our trip to the Bali tuna harbor illustrates how many boats
operate around Indonesia. Many of them now use circle hooks to
avoid catching sea turtles.
We visit the export facility of a significant WWF Seafood Saver
Jim Leape and Efransjah discuss the reasons for the owner’s fisheries
sustainability program, which now supports >6000 fishers throughout
Lunch is a responsibly-caught steamed coral trout. This is only the second time
ever I ate this type of fish. It is exquisite indeed!
The Bali Turtle Conservation and Education Centre: http://tcec-bali.org/
Here the Serangan community with help of GusWindia Adnyana and his students from
Udayana University supports turtle conservation at the grass roots level.
Mr Segre tells Tetha how he remembers swimming with sea turtles, and how these
beautiful ocean creatures are so terribly threathened while they harm no one.
A fish whisperer and her children. Will we continue to have enough fish to
feed coastal communities?