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Diving with…Brigitte Gassner, Lembeh Strait, North Sulawesi, Indonesia

Asia DTA Team

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In this ongoing series, we speak to the people who run dive centres, resorts and liveaboards from around the world about their businesses and the diving they have to offer…


What is your name?

Brigitte Gassner

What is the name of your business?

critters@lembehresort

What is your role within the business?

Dive Center Manager

How long has the business operated for?

The Resort and Dive Center critters@lembeh, started in 2002 as the first Dive resort on Lembeh Island.

How long have you dived for, and what qualification are you?

I have been diving since 1998 and became a Dive Instructor in 2002. Since then I am traveling as a Pro.

What is your favorite type of diving?

It’s definitely Muck Diving. But I love to dive in general, so it is more about the feeling underwater, the freedom and peace. I also like to dive in currents which brings many fish, and soft corals are open and there can be always surprises.

If you could tell people one thing about your business (or maybe more!) to make them want to visit you what would it be?

Lembeh Strait is one of the best muck dive destinations in the world. Whilst Muck Diving you can see weird critters you might never have seen before. If you like Night diving, then you are in the right place. Night dives in the Strait are spectacular. Besides the Muck Diving, the Strait also has some beautiful walls and reefs with colourful corals.

What is your favorite dive in your location and why?

Sorry, I cannot say that I have only one favourite dive site, there would be many to name, the strait has over 40 dive sites. Many divers and Photo Pro’s are coming here to see the Hairy Frogfish, Mimic Octopus and other Cephalopods. The best dive site to find them is Rojos. I also like Nudifalls, which is a nice combination with a mini wall with corals and sandy slope.

What types of diving are available in your location?

The majority is Muck Diving but in the Strait and behind Lembeh Island we can dive beautiful reefs with a variety of corals. We also have a wreck from the 2nd World war, which is already covered in sea fans and corals. We also offer Blackwater/Bonfire dives and a Mandarin dive.

What do you find most rewarding about your current role?

When divers come back from their dive with a big smile and excitement when they finally found critters they have always wished to see.

What is your favorite underwater creature?

All kind of Nudibranchs and the Coconut Octopus – he is a curious and funny creature and always a joy to watch.

Are there any exciting changes / developments coming up in the near future?

There are many projects currently running here at critters. We are ramping up our Photo Center by initiating a cooperation of one of the world’s biggest UW photography equipment retailers. With this new development our Photo Center will be able to provide a one of a kind service to our guests.

As a center what is the biggest problem you face at the moment?

Litter in the oceans. Though the resort is running better than ever before, we do face challenges, which concerns us deeply. The plastic pollution is prevalent in all of our oceans, we all need to work together to turn the tide on plastic pollution. But it is nice to see that Indonesia is slowly improving and local people are more aware and educated about this problem.

Is your center involved in any environmental work?

Our team started the Lembeh Foundation. We do regularly clean-ups at the beach and dive sites. The Lembeh Foundation is building a waste bank in the nearby village and manages three main programs to support and help local communities to live sustainably within their natural environment.

How do you see the SCUBA / Freediving / snorkeling industry overall? What changes would you make?

I wish that training organizations and individual dive pros would show more responsibility when training new divers and make them more aware of environmental influence of diving and how important it is to protect the Oceans. Pro Divers should be role models.

What would you say to our visitors to promote the diving you have to offer?

Lembeh Strait is known as the World’s best Muck Diving Destination. If you wish a day off from diving, you can do a tour to Tangkoko National Park and see black macaques, tarsier, hornbill to name a few, or visit a local market in the Highlands. There is plenty to explore besides diving. critters@lembeh has two in-house Marine Biologists and they are happy to share their knowledge with you. Onsite we also have a full-time Photo Pro who can assist with photo related issues.

Where can our visitors find out more about your business?

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Save on NEW Emperor Harmoni

Asia DTA Team

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The launch of Emperor Harmoni – Emperor Divers’ brand-new liveaboard in Indonesia – is just a few weeks away with the finishing touches currently taking place. And, to welcome her to their fleet, Emperor have put together an offer as magnificent as the boat herself.

Anyone booking a trip on Harmoni for 2022 or 2023 will receive a 25% discount if they book and confirm before October 1st 2022.

That means the first guests on board can not only explore and dive the Indonesian waters in the finest of style but do so at an incredible price. And sailing on Harmoni really is fine.

She is a 24-berth, traditional Indonesian phinisi-style vessel which has been bespoke made using a combination of Emperor’s vast experience of liveaboards and the expertise of legendary Indonesian boat builder Pak Haji.

Constructed almost entirely by hand using Sulawesi ironwood, Harmoni has been designed specifically to offer the finest diving experiences possible in spacious surroundings of the very highest standard.

The beautifully-finished cabins all have en-suite bathrooms and air conditioning while the deck areas offer plenty of comfortable places to sit and maybe even enjoy a relaxing massage. The dining area is spacious and serves the high-quality food and drink you would expect from an Emperor Divers holiday.

The first trip leaves on September 16th and will cruise from Bali, taking in the wonderful scenery of Moyo Island, Sumbawa and Sangean Volcano before finally reaching Komodo National Park. 

The offer is valid on new bookings only and discount is not to be combined with group free places or any other discount or promotion.

Email reservations@emperordivers.com to confirm pricing and availability or speak personally to the Emperor Divers’ reservation team to find out more.

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Reef-World launches Green Fins Japan!

Asia DTA Team

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The Reef-World Foundation, the Onna Village Diving Association, the local government, and Oceana are delighted to announce that Japan is now the 14th country globally to implement the Green Fins initiative – a UN Environment Programme initiative. Onna Village in Okinawa is the first Japanese tourist destination to adopt Green Fins environmental standards to reduce the threats associated with diving and snorkelling on the marine environment.

Green Fins is piloted in Onna Village, Okinawa prefecture, an area renowned for its marine sports and has been working to protect its reefs for many years. Green Fins is implemented as part of the national Sustainable Development Goals project, which aims to manage and illustrate to the local industry how sustainable tourism can play a role in reef conservation. The economic benefits of the reefs benefit not only the fisheries industry but also the tourism industry as it has rocketed in recent decades.

If the project is successful – proving the value of sustainable tourism – the model has the potential to be escalated to a national level. A wide rollout would allow Reef-World to focus on uptake and expansion into other marine tourism and biodiversity hotspots across Japan. Green Fins implementation in Japan would provide practical solutions to many of the common problems faced in the area. It would also help to promote high standards for diving in the country. Improving the quality of the diving industry through Green Fins would demonstrate the added value of Onna Village’s tourism product. This, in turn, will encourage tourists to spend more time and money diving in the region.

Following a week of training by Reef-World (23 to 28 May 2022), Japan now has a national Green Fins team comprised of four fully certified Green Fins Assessors and two Green Fins Coordinators from Oceana and the local government. They will be responsible for recruiting, assessing, training and certifying dive and snorkel operators to become Green Fins members in the country. This involves providing training about the ecology and threats to coral reefs, simple and local everyday solutions to these threats and Green Fins’ environmental standards to dive and snorkel operators. Green Fins membership will help marine tourism operators improve their sustainability and prove they are working hard to follow environmental best practices as a way of attracting eco-minded tourists.

James Harvey, Director at The Reef-World Foundation, said: “We are really excited to finally introduce Green Fins in Japan. We have been planning this for almost three years, but the travel restrictions related to the pandemic hindered progress. The diving industry in Okinawa and the marine life upon which it has been built is so unique, it must be preserved for generations to come. The Okinawa diving community is very passionate about protecting their marine environment, and Green Fins has given them an opportunity to collectively work to reduce their environmental impact and pursue exemplary environmental standards.”

Diving and snorkelling related damage to sensitive marine ecosystems, including coral reefs, is becoming an increasingly significant issue. This damage makes them less likely to survive other local and wider stressors, such as overfishing or plastic debris and the effects of climate change. Based on robust individual assessments, the Green Fins initiative helps identify and mitigate these risks by providing environmental consultation and support to dive and snorkel operators. Through Green Fins implementation in Japan, Reef-World aims to reduce negative environmental impacts in the region by reaching 10 marine tourism operators, training 50 dive guides and raising awareness of sustainability best practices among 10,000 tourists in the first year.

Yuta Kawamoto, CEO of Oceana, said: “Green Fins will help to unify all the conservation efforts in Okinawa by applying the guidelines in many areas and raising tourists awareness. We hope this will increase the sustainable value in the diving industry and in turn increase the diving standards in the country.”

Green Fins is a UN Environment Programme initiative, internationally coordinated by The Reef-World Foundation, which aims to protect and conserve coral reefs through environmentally friendly guidelines to promote a sustainable diving and snorkelling tourism industry. Green Fins provides the only internationally recognised environmental standards for the diving and snorkelling industry and has a robust assessment system to measure compliance.

To date, four dive operators in Onna Village have joined the global network of 600+ trained and assessed Green Fins members. These are: Benthos Divers, Okinawa Diving Center, Arch Angel and Pink Marlin Club. There has also been significant interest from other operators, even those that are not located in Onna Village, for Green Fins training and assessment.

Suika Tsumita from Oceana said: “Green Fins serve as an important tool for local diving communities to move towards a more sustainable use of their dive sites; so that they can maintain their scenic beauty and biological richness to provide livelihoods for many generations to come.”

For more information, please visit www.reef-world.org or  www.greenfins.net/countries/japan. Dive and snorkel operators interested in signing up for Green Fins can find the membership application form at: www.greenfins.net/how-to-join.

Dive and snorkel operators in Japan interested in signing up to be Green Fins members can contact the Green Fins Japan team at japan@greenfins.net.

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