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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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Diving with… Ana and Miguel, Siladen Resort & Spa, 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?

Ana and Miguel

What is the name of your business?

Siladen Resort & Spa

What is your role within the business?

Co owners and General Managers

How long has the business operated for?

Almost 20 years.

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

Miguel has dived since 1993 and Ana has dived since 2002. We are both Open Water Scuba Instructors.

What is your favorite type of diving?

We love all dive types, especially wall diving for the wonderful corals and looking out into the blue wondering what other animals will come up next. But as an UW photographer and videographer we both love critter hunting in the sandy slopes. We are both very fond of night dives as we always find interesting animals and different behaviour.

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

We have a wonderful location in the heart of Bunaken National Park and we have an amazing team that provides the best service to each guest. We are a fun dive resort; we constantly strive to be as sustainable as possible and safety is our number one priority. If you like sea turtles and beautiful coral reefs you cannot miss this area for diving or snorkelling.

What is your favorite dive in your location and why?

If we have to choose one wall we would say Mandolin as it has beautiful and healthy corals with a wonderful and shallow reef top. We love to search for turtles in the overhangs, look for long nose hawkfish in the black coral bushes, admire the schooling snappers, and spend a long safety stop on the coral gardens on the top that are full of anthias. For critter hunting and night dives we both love Bolung. Here we can find frogfish, ghostpipefishes and nudibranchs, plus at night we often find decorator crabs, octopus and even stargazers on its white sandy slope.

What types of diving are available in your location?

There are very shallow coral reefs surrounding all five islands within Bunaken National Parkpark — beyond the shallow reef, the seabed drops away very quickly, forming the beautiful walls that Bunaken is famed for. Many of these walls are vertical with huge caverns and overhangs, however some are more gentle slopes that allow more reef building corals to form. On the North Sulawesi mainland there are black sand sites that allow amazing muck diving. Close by, we also have white sand sites, which offer some beautiful coral reefs and gentle slopes. There is even a fairly intact (entirely sponge encrusted) wreck within easy access of the resort.

What do you find most rewarding about your current role?

Working together in a dive resort that welcomes divers and snorkellers from around the world and sharing with them our passion for diving, snorkeling and uw photography and video is a great pleasure. Besides we have the privilege to dive and snorkel at world class sites every week.

What is your favorite underwater creature?

We both love cephalopods in general for their intelligence, capacity to camouflage, change colors and patterns…. We are fortunate enough to have many encounters with cephalopods in this area, from the tiny bobtail squid to the wonderful broadclub cuttlefish, the flamboyant cuttlefish, squids and Ana even filmed reef octopus mating. We could watch cephalopods for ever. And although we see them often, Ana has a soft spot for turtles.

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

The biggest problem we all face as divers and nature lovers is climate change and pollution. We need to work on these issues locally but even more importantly we need to address these issues worldwide.

Is your center involved in any environmental work?

Yes, we clean our beach daily and we organise very frequent island clean-ups. Not only do we clean this area, but we also separate the garbage trying to send as much as we possibly can to be recycled. We often have activities together with local school children to help bring awareness of the dangers of plastic pollution. We reduce our single plastic use as much as possible and all our vegetables and fruit peel leftovers are composted. We also protect the nests of turtles that hatch on our beach.

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

We are partnering with Coral Eye Resort in Bangka Island so that guests can have the best service in the best areas of North Sulawesi. We are getting one more boat; we want to make sure our boats are never crowded, besides we keep working to maintain and improve all our facilities.

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

The industry is doing well and I am happy to see that there are more and more avid snorkellers and not only scuba divers. We would like to see more ocean protection worldwide to ensure the future generations get to enjoy the beautiful reef corals and marine life around the world.

Finally, what would you say to our visitors to promote the diving you have to offer?

We give you a chance to explore some of the best snorkelling and diving sites in the world while providing you with comfortable accommodation, wonderful food and the best service. Staying in Siladen Resort & Spa you can do up to four dives or snorkelling sessions every day with very experienced guides, while staying in a safe and comfortable resort that aims to provide the best service to each guest.

Where can our visitors find out more about your business?

Visit our website www.siladen.com, find us on Instagram and Facebook (Siladen Resort & Spa) and contact us:

reservations@siladen.com

WA +62 811 44300641

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DAN and Indonesia Ministry of Tourism advance commitment to Safe Diving

Asia DTA Team

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Divers Alert Network and the Indonesia Ministry of Tourism are moving forward with their commitment to promoting dive safety in Indonesia. DAN President and CEO Bill Ziefle and COO Panchabi Vaithiyanathan met with Indonesia Minister of Tourism Dr. Sandiaga Uno on September 1 to further the two organizations’ Partnership to Promote Diving Safety

The meeting took place in Jakarta amid the opening of Deep and Extreme Indonesia, Asia’s largest outdoor adventure, diving, and marine tourism show, and followed the signing of a memorandum of understanding earlier this year in which the organizations committed to working together to promote safe diving.

In the months ahead, DAN’s Indonesia team, led by Ronny Hertiadhi and Bayu Wardoyo, will be undertaking various initiatives including raising awareness for the new DAN Emergency Hotline in Indonesia (which is available in Bahasa Indonesia and English), training physicians through DAN’s Academies of Dive Medicine, conducting inspections and providing support for recompression chambers, training chamber operators, disseminating safety resources for divers (new and experienced), and supporting dive professionals and operators with free safety consultations, safety seminars, and risk mitigation measures.

“We are so pleased to be working with Minister Uno and his colleagues on this bold initiative,” Ziefle said. “Their enthusiasm — and the enthusiasm of the attendees at the DEEP show — was inspiring. The ministry has embraced the importance of safety in promoting Indonesia as a great place to dive, and we are excited to work alongside them to implement meaningful programs and strategies.”

While the effort is ongoing, the next major milestone in the collaboration will take place on September 13, when DAN Vice President, Risk Mitigation, Francois Burman and DAN Vice President, Medical Services, Matías Nochetto will travel to Indonesia to present a series of lectures and safety presentations to dive operators and medical professionals around the country.

Join the DAN community or learn more at DAN.org.

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