Our time here in Indonesia has now almost come to an end. In the next 2 weeks, me (Gunilla), Nicole and Ima will fly back to Germany. It has been an exciting experience and we have met some very nice people along the way. I will come back to Jakarta and the Seribu Islands in late spring/summer 2013 to continue my work here as part of my PhD. Before I fly back home, I will go with Andjin Siegenthaler, a master student from the Netherlands, who will work in the Seribu Islands, on one last joint field trip together with our counterpart institute. We will collect new samples at the Seribu Islands, both corals and sponges, and conduct reef surveys.
About 2 weeks ago, Jakarta had a big flooding: Heavy rain caused many streets, even whole districts to get flooded. The water sewage system in Jakarta cannot cope with such large amounts of water. As a result, traffic was blocked for several days, people had to rush home to safe their houses from the flooding. It was almost impossible to travel within the city. Most of the water is gone now, except for in the areas close to the ports in Jakarta, but there are still heavy rainfalls every now and then. So we keep our fingers crossed that we can go to the Islands one last time at the end of this week.
Gunilla Baum, WG Ecophysiology
After finishing the sampling in Banyuwangi, East Java, all the PT Dinar staff, fishermen and me (Nicole) went to have a joint dinner. It was a lovely last evening and everyone enjoyed themselves. And of course hundreds of pictures were taken. On my last day in Indonesia, I gave a final presentation at our counterpart research institute, the KKP, to show them my work. Now after four and a half months I am ready to leave, my head full with new impressions. I hope my samples will follow in April to get the analysis done and to prove that thiocyanate as an excretion product of cyanide poisoning can be detected in the field. This finally might lead to a decline in the usage of cyanide and an improvement of the fishermen’s life.
Nicole Herz, WG Ecophysiology
After a struggling time in Makassar, Sulawesi where I was unable to get my experiments done, I’m now in Banyuwangi, Java. As it turns out this area is the perfect place to get into contact with cyanide fishermen and to get cyanide caught fish for my experiments. Within one day I was able to set up my equipment and right now I’m keeping 12 individuals of Gobies, Angelfish and Damselfish to test them for traces of thiocyanate. The Gobies and Damselfish were brought in by a fisherman who uses cyanide on a regular basis. In general two cyanide tablets are used for 5 liters. With this solution around 40 small fish can be caught.
The 6th was finally the day in which I went out with cyanide fishermen. At 6 a.m. in the morning I was picked up by Ibu Tutik, a staff member of Pt. Dinar and we drove to the next village to meet with the fishermen. We took the boat to reach the reef, the anchor was thrown onto the corals and I could have a swim with the fishermen. Each of them had a 5 liter canister or a plastic bag of cyanide solution. For the catching they had a small bottle with cyanide, a hook and a small net. Several times the cyanide was squashed into crevices and on corals until finally one or two fish were caught. Usually the fish are not completely stunned but rather disorientated and therefore easy to catch. I could also see that shrimps, in this case Stenopus hispidus were caught with cyanide. If the fish hide in holes or corals the fishermen use the hook to rip the corals apart in order to get to the fish. The cyanide fishing in Banyuwangi seems to be very destructive, not only because of the cyanide and the general decline in target species, but also because a huge amount of reef structures are destroyed by the hooks, the fishermen that step on the corals constantly and boat anchoring.
For my experiments however I can be sure that most of the fish that I’m going to test within the next few weeks are very likely to be caught with cyanide. This shall give me the opportunity to see whether the optical fiber based method to detect thiocyanate is applicable in the field or not.
Nicole Herz, WG Ecophysiology
I am now back in Jakarta after two field trips to the Seribu Islands north of Jakarta. We completed our sampling successfully and are now organizing and analyzing our samples. During the last 2 weeks of our field trip, we visited many different islands including islands that are very populated and islands that are used for tourism and fish aquaculture.
We also went to islands inside the conservation area of the Pulau Seribu National Park. This National Park is the oldest National Park in Indonesia and was founded in 1982. Although the name means literally “Thousand” Islands, it only consists of 105 small islands, most of them with small fringing reefs. The National Park stretches 45 km into the Java Sea, with islands up to 80 km off the coast north of Jakarta. We realized clearly that human pressure has also reached the offshore islands and that even the remote coral reefs there have started to show signs of suffering. Due to overpopulation and overfishing, fishermen have to go further and further off the coast to find fish and are now also fishing in areas that are intended to be no fishing-areas and conservation areas. To our surprise also high sedimentation rates were present, possibly due to sand and coral mining.
In the last few days I went to sample green mussels in Jakarta Bay. The green mussel farms extend for many km in Jakarta Bay so that they are even visible from space. Usually these farms are made up of bamboo poles that are placed vertically in the sand and the mussels grow along ropes attached to the poles under water. We followed some fishermen to their farms and they gave us some of their mussels. I also went to mussel farms in Banten Bay which is west of Jakarta Bay but has far less pollution. It will be interesting to compare the physiology of mussels from Jakarta and Banten Bay.
This week I am also sampling several fish species in Jakarta Bay. It is not easy to find fishermen who are willing to take us to the sea, but we were lucky. Because of the high pollution in the bay itself, some of the fish species I am interested in no longer occur here in these waters. And other fish species do not grow as big as in the Seribu Islands area, indicating that they are very stressed and that their populations are not viable in Jakarta inshore waters anymore.
For this year, we have now finished our field work. There are a lot of samples and data now to be analyzed and we are looking forward to next year and new field trips. These first sampling trips to Jakarta Bay and the Seribu Islands yielded valuable information on the condition of the ecosystems here, but also new ideas for future projects.
Gunilla Baum, WG Ecophysiology
After four weeks my experiments here in Bali have come to an end now. Before leaving the island I went together with Pak Eddy and Kenn to see the external field stations of PT Dinar Darum Lestari in the North of Bali. The first one was in Ketapang, western Java. Up to 1000 ornamental fish can arrive here daily. Within a day they are being packed and shipped to the main facilities in Jakarta or Kuta. Right to the beachfront corals are being cultivated and staff members check regularly on them. To breathe underwater the divers use long hoses attached to a compressor (hookah diving). When the boss comes to the field stations it is mainly about new orders and the discussion of further actions. But he also controls the proper packing of the fish or teaches the staff how to improve the handling of corals.
In Gilimanuk their facilities are mainly to cultivate corals and to breed different types of Clownfish (Amphiprion ocellaris, Premnas biaculeatus). However, the rearing of the larvae takes time and effort and the business is only profitable if one can rear plenty of fish. Right now bred Clownfish are more expensive than those caught from the wild. And unfortunately the bred ones do not accept anemones and are therefore less attractive for the buying customer. But the aim of Pt. Dinar is to develop methods to rear other fish species as well.
At the station in Goris they do not only pack fish for the main facilities of PT Dinar, they are also producing sockets made out of cement for the cultivation of corals. Depending on the type of coral SPS or LPS (Small/Large Polyp Species) there are different types of constructions. Daily they can produce up to 2000 pieces which go to the other stations of PT Dinar for coral cultivation.
On the second day of our trip we went to visit Tembok, the fourth field station. Here PT Dinar primarily breeds Giant Clams (Tridacna spp.). Five to six times a year the breeding stock is stimulated with heat stress to release both eggs and sperm. In the first month larvae have to be checked daily under the microscope in order to determine the health of the stock. After two weeks clams incorporate their symbionts, which are dinoflagellate-algae from the genus of Symbiodinium. The clams are being fed daily with yeast. It takes two years until a giant clam is big enough for sale and the mortality rate is so high that currently only around 2500 individuals per year can be sold. As the Tridacna species depend on constant water parameters the facility receives fresh seawater through a pipe that pumps the water from 100 meters offshore to a filtering pond. Water parameters are checked regularly. In Tembok they rear different species e.g. T. gigas, T. maxima. After visiting the hatchery station I was able to go out with the fishermen to see how they catch ornamentals with nets. They put the net next to a big coral block and chase the fish once around until they get trapped in the net. The fishermen can then easily catch the fish with a smaller net. A fisherman works approximately 4 hours per day to catch 40 - 50 fish including damselfish, gobies, butterflyfish, angelfish, etc. It doesn’t make them rich but provides them with a sufficient income compared to other jobs.
Nicole Herz, WG Ecophysiology
The last few days have been very busy for all of us – I (Gunilla Baum) started my first field trip to collect coral and fish samples at different islands in Jakarta Bay. Ima Kusumanti, Indra Januar from the KKP and 2 students from IPB Agricultural University in Bogor joined me and together we made a good team! Our first destination was Untung Jawa, a small island that we used as our base camp. There we shared 2 rooms in a small house close to the local harbor.
Each morning we left very early with a small boat to different islands. It was not easy to always find coral reefs, because the islands in Jakarta Bay are mostly destroyed due to heavy pollution. The megacity Jakarta is not far from the islands! The coral reef ecosystems are threatened by heavy metal contamination, high nutrient loads and around some islands extreme sedimentation rates. Only a few very tolerant coral species such as some soft corals can be found there. However we were lucky and found at each island corals to sample with scuba diving. Along with the sampling, we also analyzed the water for nutrients, sedimentation rates and other parameters such as temperature, pH, salinity and oxygen concentration. All of this data will give us some insight into how the situation of the coral reefs in this area is and what the main abiotic stressors are.
Tomorrow we will leave again to continue the sampling. This time we will visit islands from the Seribu Islands chain. These islands are further away from Jakarta and we expect to find more intact coral reefs. So far, we have been lucky with the weather, but soon the rainy season will start in Indonesia. Then it will be a lot more windy and the waves will be higher. We all keep our fingers crossed that the weather will stay calm for the next 2 weeks!
Gunilla Baum, WG Ecophysiology
As part of my master research (Ima Kusumanti, Master Student from ISATEC in Bremen), I will conduct a study in Jakarta Bay and the Thousand Islands to find out what the status of the coastal fishing communities is. I want to see how many fishermen there are, what commercial species they catch and what type of fishing gear they use to catch the fish. The Greater Jakarta Bay Ecosystem (GJBE) consists of two coastal ecosystems: Jakarta Bay (Teluk Jakarta) and Thousand Islands (Kepulauan Seribu). So far for my project I have started to visit fisherman families and to conduct questionnaires. It is really interesting to meet these people and to see how they live. Many fishermen are sometimes very poor and not well educated, but they’re very nice, open, and friendly.
To know the perception of the fishermen to pollution in Jakarta Bay, I also ask the fishermen how the pollution has affected their livelihoods and what they want to change in the future. I will continue my questionnaires in the next few weeks. Next week, me and Gunilla (the Ph.D candidate from ZMT) will go to the Islands around Jakarta Bay to meet fishermen. Gunilla will also start her sampling campaign, which includes fish surveys, coral cover surveys, water and sedimentation analysis as well as sampling of fish and corals for further tissue analysis. I hope we will have a successful trip.
Ima Kusumanti, WG Ecophysiology
Our ways have separated now and I (Nicole Herz) headed off to Bali where I finally met the boss of an ornamental fish trader company (PT Dinar Darum Lestari), who helps me to realize my ideas and experiments. I was able to set up my aquarium tanks and to select 4 different ornamental species for my experiments to detect thiocyanate. (The selected individuals recovered slowly from transportation, stress and possible cyanide poisoning and are now quite stable.) The first round of collecting water samples is now almost completed and round number two and three are waiting. The intention is to repeat the sampling at another ornamental trader near Makassar, Sulawesi in December.
Ima is currently preparing the questionnaires for her survey. And the preparations for Gunilla’s sampling campaigns in November in the Seribu Islands just north of Jakarta and in Jakarta Bay are in full progress. Together with the partner institute, the Research Center for Marine and Fisheries Product Processing and Biotechnology (KKP) in Jakarta, a 2-3 week sampling trip is planned and all necessary equipment is organized.
With excitement we await the Hari Raya Idul Adha / Hari Raya Haji celebrations on this Friday. It’s one of the most important Muslim feasts.
Nicole Herz, WG Ecophysiology
Our first joint research cruise from topic 1/ SPICE, involving several subprojects working together on one small vessel, is now over and with some great help from our Indonesian colleagues everything went smoothly. Along a sampling grid in the Bay of Jakarta, water and sediment samples were taken for the analysis of nutrients and toxic organic compounds. A CTD and a multiprobe (temperature, salinity, depth, pH, dissolved oxygen concentrations and Chlorophyll a) were lowered into the water at each site along the grid. The data will provide further information on the environmental condition of the bay and help to create a model to simulate the situation in the bay.
While on the cruise, the enormous influence of the megacity Jakarta became truly visible. But even here we find fishermen who fish every single day in these waters and whose livelihoods depend on these polluted resources. We bought fish and mussels from different fishermen to determine the toxicity of these based on heavy metal and organic compound levels and to gain information on the influence of pollution on physiological parameters such as enzymes and fatty acid composition.
Most of our colleagues will be leaving within the next few days for Germany. Myself and two ISATEC students, Ima Kusumanti and Nicole Herz, will stay in Indonesia to complete our field work. I will be focusing my work on the physiological impact of pollution on fish, mussels and corals in Jakarta Bay and the Seribu Islands, which are located just north of Jakarta Bay and extend up to 80 km further offshore. These islands provide a suitable stress and pollution gradient along which I will take samples and conduct my experiments.
Nicole will be dealing with another reef threatening impact. Indonesian reefs suffer under the impact of cyanide, a poison that stuns fish to collect them easily but causes severe damage to the reef and its organisms. Her aim is to test a newly developed method to detect a metabolic product of cyanide and whether it is applicable in the field for future use (to ban the use of cyanide). And Ima will conduct a social study to see how pollution in the greater Jakarta Bay area has influenced the fisheries and livelihoods of communities.
Gunilla Baum, WG Ecophysiology
The last week saw the final preparations and start of the sampling under SPICE Topic 1, dealing with pollution impacts in the Bay of Jakarta. The kick-off workshop of SPICE in Jakarta on 25. September was attended by most of the researchers of our topic, and it thus provided a good opportunity for exchange among the group as well as the presentation of our planned work to a wider audience. In the days surrounding the workshop, all of us were quite busy with completing the paperwork and administrative procedures required for anyone conducting research in Indonesia. After an intensive week and repeated visits to several offices, this process is more or less finished for most of us, and we can now concentrate fully on collecting our first data.
Joint preparations began last Thursday, when several Indonesian and German Topic 1 researchers came together for a joint meeting at the Research and Development Center for Marine and Fisheries Product Processing and Biotechnology, the department of the Indonesian Ministry of Marine Affairs and Fisheries mainly responsible for Topic 1. We discussed logistics and sampling details for the initial field campaign that began in Jakarta Bay today.
On Saturday, a small group of researchers from the social science and ecophysiology parts of the project rented a small fishing vessel from the Muara Angke fishing harbor in North Jakarta to visit a number of prospective research sites and government field stations in the Bay of Jakarta and Thousand Islands further to the north. The small boat seemed almost lost in a maze of fishing boats of various types and sizes, rusty transport ships, and wooden passenger ferries filled to the brink with day-trippers streaming to the islands to look for a weekend retreat from the hectic chaos and constant buzz of Jakarta. As the sun rose and send its dim rays through a rusty haze, we were able to see (and smell) first-hand the effects of the 28 million people living in the wider area of Jakarta with limited to no waste-water treatment in place.
On the way to the first few larger islands in the Bay, we passed what looked like a solid wall of bamboo structures stretching into the hazy distance – these devices serve as natural settlement substrates for green mussels, a major aquaculture species harvested in lower Jakarta Bay. The livelihoods of those engaged in this activity, and the health implications for those consuming the mussels, constitute one of the focus areas of our project. The visible impacts of wastewater runoff accompanied us until well past the first islands, when it suddenly gave way to water masses of a turquoise blue – ocean currents and a deep trench serve as a natural barrier offering some protection to the islands further offshore.
A highlight of the day was the visit of the research station of LIPI (the Indonesian Institute of Sciences) on Pari Island, where some of our students plan to conduct field experiments in the following months. However, a somber reminder of the impacts of habitat degradation and pollution followed shortly after – on a neighboring island, construction of a new luxury resort had begun two years ago in the middle of a shallow lagoon fringed with mangroves. Before, the lagoon was used by inhabitants of one of the adjacent islands for seaweed aquaculture. After siltation caused by the construction activities, the seaweed began to die off, and the farmers had to abandon their village to find employment on another island. Their empty houses looked like they had been left in a hurry, with several personal items still laying around.
Yesterday, we prepared a boat chartered for one week for our research by loading it with equipment and taking the gear out for a test run. Everything went smoothly, and in the next days, we will cover a sampling grid in the lower Jakarta Bay, collecting sediment and water samples that will then be analyzed by Indonesian and German researchers from several of the subprojects in our Topic.
Sebastian Ferse, WG Social-Ecological Systems Analysis