This week we chat to…Pascal Sebastian from Indo Ocean Project. Based in Nusa Penida in Indonesia, Pascal is passionate about diving and studying the marine environment. His advice is to do as much voluntary field work as possible and make some time to read relevant scientific publications and reports.

Name: Pascal Sebastian

Job Title: Lead Marine Biologist

Organisation: Indo Ocean Project

  • What inspired you to pursue a career in marine conservation?

The marine world is a realm of millions of mysteries, and many things need to be studied and discovered in order to get a better understanding of our world. I also wanted to be an outstanding dive instructor as there are many dive instructors in the world and you need to be different. 

  • What steps did you take/are you taking to achieve your career goals?

I pursued an MSc in Marine Biology at James Cook University, Australia. I also undertook volunteer work with PhD researchers and published two research papers during my studies. 

  • How did you secure your current job/position? 

I was a full-time dive instructor and dive guide with a dive operator on Nusa Penida in Indonesia. There is a big community of divers who communicate with each other. Through them I heard that Indo Ocean Project was looking for an Indonesian Marine Biologist to develop their conservation and research programs. I decided to apply to work with them to fulfil my passion as a marine biologist. 

  • Which part of your job do you enjoy the most?  

When the diving and science activities are combined.   

  • Are there aspects of your position which make you feel that you are really ‘making a difference’? 

There are no other Indonesian Marine Biologists who live on Nusa Penida apart from me and the research on marine life within this island is insufficient. This means there are many opportunities to do research and field observations. I am also a founder of a social-ecological initiative on the island, that involves local people in coral propagation to help restore the damaged reefs. The initiative is called “The CorAlliance”. 

  • What do you know now that you wish you knew when you were starting out?  

I needed to be more involved in volunteer work with experienced scientists. Especially in field experiments where they were using advanced technologies and statistical analyses. 

  • Are there any skills you never thought you would need but did?

Skills in language, human development, science communication in public, and social science have all been important. 

  • What advice would you give to budding marine conservationists?  

Do not ever skip your statistics class! Do more volunteer work, explore the remote areas with cultural differences, read more science and social publications and be critical. 

  • What is your favourite marine creature and why?

Juvenile boxfish, they are tiny but look fearless! 

  • What is your most unforgettable moment in the sea?  

When we could not exit a “whirlpool” of 50 manta rays that had surrounded us and I got slapped by one of them 


Thank you Pascal, fantastic to hear about the work you are doing in Indonesia. If you are interested in working with Pascal and the Indo Ocean Project, check out their Divemaster and Research Diver Internship here

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