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Doing Good and Protecting the Ocean with Tour Leader Nita CJ

In this second of a two-part series, we spoke to Nita about conservation, helping local communities thrive, protecting the ocean through education and how guests can play their part.

Nita is an award-winning ocean conservationist and the head tour leader for our SeaTrek boats in Indonesia. She is originally from North Sulawesi province in Indonesia and has been with the team since 2017. One of Nita’s passions is the conservation of the natural beauty and indigenous cultures of Indonesia. 

In this second of a two-part series, we spoke to her about conservation, how they are helping local communities thrive, protecting the ocean through education and how guests can play their part in preserving the natural and cultural heritage of this magnificent part of the world.

What is Peek Under The Surface?

Peek under the Surface is actually a project that I started because, on one of the trips that we did, there were these amazing coral reefs not so far from one of these villages. Once we moved and snorkelled just really close to this village, we saw that not only were the coral reefs destroyed but also the plastic pollution was really bad. I thought to myself, what could we do in the long term? A short-term goal is a little bit too late so what can we do that is sustainable in the long term?

 One of the things that we’ve already done is distributing books about the ocean and the importance of protecting the ocean. We have all these illustrations, drawings of turtles, fish, and the corals underneath, but they’re all just in the books, just illustrations. You don’t see the real thing and the only way for the kids to be able to see the real thing is if they were wearing goggles. So the idea came that when we go to a lot of these villages, especially in the coastal areas, why don’t we bring swimming goggles? Just small, simple ones that the kids can wear and they can see, whoa, there’s fish, whoa, there are corals. Oh, I read this in the book and I saw it in the book, the illustrations, and it’s actually real. 

So that’s the first step that we wanted to do is to create the awareness to create that love. And once you love the ocean, you want to protect it, and then it keeps going. 

How Do Our Water Filters Help Local Communities?

We have water filters on board. These water filters are to purify water for people to have safe drinking water. This is very important, especially to a lot of remote villages that we visit throughout Indonesia. Because they don’t have safe drinking water, we would bring big containers with water filters that can be used for about two years. The containers can be used for as long as they want, but the filter itself usually only lasts for about two years. And then we have to keep changing the filters.

So once we give one or two water containers with filters to the villages, the next time we just bring filters that the villagers can easily replace. It’s super easy to install the water filter and usually, they just put it in the center of the village, office or sometimes at schools so that everybody has access to this filtered water.

What is the Alfred Russel Wallace Book and Why Is It So Important?

The Alfred Russel Wallace book that we write and print is very special to us because we as Indonesians learn about the Wallace Line at school, but nothing more. We didn’t really learn about the important contribution that Wallace made to the science world. While he was doing most of his collecting in Indonesia, he actually co-authored the Theory of Evolution by Natural Selection with Charles Darwin.

Charles Darwin did most of his collecting and research in the Galapagos, and we would like to be able to say that we also have all of this wonderful nature in Indonesia that is on the same level as the Galapagos or even more so. By writing this book, we would like the Indonesian kids to understand the importance of Wallace and his findings during his time in Indonesia and be proud of what Indonesia’s nature has to offer in the science world.

Tell Us About the Kids’ Books on Board

We carry three different books on board our trips that we donate books to villages, mostly to schools. Two books are about the ocean. One is the Ocean Champions and the other one is Wayan and Turtle King, which is actually printed in two languages, so English and Indonesian in one book. 

The other book is the Alfred Russell Wallace book. The Alfred Russell Wallace book is printed separately in two languages, in English and in Indonesian and you can buy the English version on board and when you do, we donate 10 copies of the Indonesian version to various schools. 

Our goal is that the kids will be able to have this understanding of the ocean ecosystem. Why is it so great and why should we protect it from plastic pollution, for example, or from overfishing and things like that? And for the Alfred Russell Wallace book, we would like the kids in Indonesia to understand why Wallace is very important in Indonesia.

What Can Guests Bring to Give to Villages?

If guests would like to donate to villages that we visit, it should be something that lasts longer, and that is a little bit more on the educational side. For example, books or pencils, drawing books, or crayons. They can also bring swimming goggles for the kids. Something that we have just started doing is to bring reading glasses for the elderly. Because while we do a lot for the kids we would also like to do something for our elders. So you can also bring reading glasses. It can be secondhand, it can be brand new, it doesn’t matter, and it’s pretty lightweight for you to bring, maybe a pair or two.

You can give whatever you bring to your tour leaders. The tour leaders will then decide where to give what because we know who will need what the most. 

The Indonesian Archipelago is considered to be one of the most biodiverse regions in the world. Nita’s passion for protecting Indonesia’s natural and cultural wonders is inspiring and evident in all SeaTrek’s initiatives. By joining one of our amazing voyages, you too can play your part in preserving this incredible region’s natural and cultural heritage.

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