RASI receives 2015 continuation funding after winning the 2012 Whitley Award

Eco-research volunteer opportunity in turtle & cetacean conservation project in Berau

Volunteer experience of Jacquelin 'Joko' in Sangkuliman village

Mahakam Dolphin Trip with latest info for increased dolphin encounters!


Berau Marine Vertebrates Monitoring Project

After a preliminary survey in 2003 by RASI in collaboration with the University of Amsterdam and WOTRO, two surveys were conducted in October 2007 and April 2008 to investigate the diversity of marine mammals in de marine protected area of Berau archipelago in collaboration with the Conservation Agency BKSDA Berau and University of Mulawarman. Skin/ blubber biopsy samples were obtained from several dolphin species by invited researcher Dr. Robert L. Pitman from NOAA Southwest Fisheries Science Center, La Jolla USA for DNA analyses. .

At least 24 cetacean species were directly observed and one dugong species. A species that still needs further clarification is a remarkably long-beaked from of common dolphins, i.e. Delphinus capensis tropicalis (see picture). (Technical Report ....... pdf 534kb)


Between June 2013-June 2014 a project in the honour of the late Dr P.J.H. van Bree and facilitated through the Van Bree VTS Award has started that aims to protect a high diversity of cetaceans and dugongs in the Marine Protected Area of Berau in areas that are less frequently covered by patrols and more susceptible to illegal fishing activities including shark fishing using dolphin bait. Improper waste disposal and by-catch form other threats. A better protection is aimed by raising local awareness, establishment of an environmental education post, conducting surveys to detect seasonal species occurrence providing a basis for continued monitoring by cooperating fishermen, which have been trained in species identification and GPS marking and may facilitate dolphin-friendly tourist trips. We also offer a  volunteership for overseas volunteer(students) to participate in ongoing monitoring surveys since 2014 until now. Next volunteer opportunities in 2018 will be centered on turtle conservation on two turtle protection islands in Berau while also performing monitoring on the cetaceans and mantas around the islands, which is a collaboration project between YK-RASI and the local turtle conservation NGO in Berau, Konservasi Biota Laut Berau (KBLK). (read more about this volunteer opportunity ).

Cetaceans Diversity Around Balikpapan Bay

Marine mammal observation surveys were conducted in Balikpapan Bay in East Kalimantan between 2000-2002, 2008, 2011 and 2015 in order to obtain information on cetacean diversity, total abundance, distribution patterns and threats. The results of these surveys stressed the importance of conservation of the upper bay of Balikpapan (Report only available in Indonesian on Indonesian part of this website).


Three cetacean species, i.e. Irrawaddy dolphin (Orcaella brevirostris), Finless porpoise Neophocaena phocaenoides, and Indo-Pacific bottlenose dolphin, Tursiops aduncus were encountered during all surveys as well as dugongs Dugong Dugon. The finless porpoise and bottlenose dolphins occurred in low densities in the outer coastal bay segment, and dugongs in several bay segments in very low densities. Irrawaddy dolphins were the species most commonly encountered but were almost exclusively sighted in the upper parts of the bay after 2008, whereas during 2000 and 2001 they also significantly occurred in the lower bay segments downstream of Tanjung Batu and near coastal area. Individual dolphins also show a high site-fidelity throughout the seasons.


Best estimates of mean abundance in 2008 were between 67 and 140 individuals based on the Burnham & Overton mark-recapture- and line-transect density analysis, respectively. The disappearance of Irrawaddy dolphins in the lower bay segments is likely caused by increasing boat traffic and industrial activities in the lower segments, as well as increased sedimentation impacting on fisheries in these areas due to mangrove conversion. The preservation of mangroves of the upper bay segments, above Tanjung Batu, and prevention of industrial activities in these segments including prevention of bridge construction plans in this segment, is essential for the preservation of the Irrawaddy dolphins and dugongs in the bay. Since the dolphins live in close contact with the human population in the bay, increasing awareness is similarly important.

(Technical Report ..... pdf 628kb)



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