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RASI receives 2015 continuation funding after winning the 2013 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!



 Conservation and diversity of cetaceans within a new potential MPA in East Kalimantan, Indonesia

A series of six cetacean monitoring surveys were conducted in the coastal waters off Bontang and East Kutai  District, East Kalimantan, Indonesia, between 2009 and 2012 covering a distance of 3433 km of on effort searching. These surveys were conducted in response to the fact that the assessment of cetacean species in Indonesia was described as a priority project within the “IUCN 2002-2010 Conservation Action Plan for the World’s Cetaceans” and the target of the National Fisheries Department to expand its Marine Protected Areas (MPA) in Indonesia with two million hectares between 2010 and 2014.

Ninety-eight cetacean sightings with positive species identification were made of fourteen different cetacean species and additional sightings of dugongs and whale sharks including dolphin species Stenella longirostris, Stenella l. roseiventris, Stenella attenuata, Stenella coeruleoalba, Tursiops aduncus, Tursiops truncatus, Grampus griseus, Orcaella brevirostris, two small whale species Peponocephala electra, Feresa attenuata, as well as the medium-sized whale Pseudorca crassidens and Ziphius cavirostris  and the large whale species Physeter macrocephalus and Balaenoptera physalus, which latter species has become very rare in the Southern Hemisphere and endangered but according to local residents daily occur from November to May in the coastal area East Kutai and Bontang district indicating the importance of this area.


Threats include fish depletion because of reef destruction through bombing and fishing with poisonous compounds as well as direct catch and kill of dolphins by non-resident fishermen for oil and shark bait. An isolated case of whale killing occured in August 2010 off Bontang of a juvenile humpback whale, Megaptera novaeangliae. Because of the isolation of the area where most whales and dolphins were observed, i.e. from Tanjung Magkalihat to Miang Island, we propose to extend the Marine Protected Area of Berau to this area South of and including the Mangkalihat Peninsula until Miang Island or Bontang with 500m depth cline to the shore. These areas should have special attention in terms of law-enforcement of destructive and unsustainable fishing techniques, i.e. bombing, fishing with poison, trawling. Patrolling in this area should be intensified to prevent these illegal fishing techniques and any further illegal attempts to kill cetaceans. The current fin whale observations and the occurrence of humpback whales in this area, requiring further study about their seasonal or year-round distribution patterns. Local awareness should be regularly increased and fishermen should be facilitated to engage in sustainable fishing practices and/or seaweed culturing. There is a good potential for ecotourism through responsible forms of dolphin and whale watching, which may benefit isolated areas with mostly poor fishing communities such as Miang Island, which is now being proposed to be conversed into a coal stock pile and coal terminal that will deplete local fish resources through mangrove and coral reef destruction and run-off pollution.

 Technical Report  2012....PDF)

Initial discussions with government departements in East Kutai District were conducted in May 2013 to present the results and proposal for protected area. The idea was well received and will be followed up. An environmental assessment report was submitted to the Provincial Environmental Department to preserve Miang Island and prevent the coal storage on this island.

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