Diving to save the reefs
of Derawan

At first, Arif Hadianto, 30, went scuba diving only to find new things to photograph.

Later, he and dozens of friends went underwater to help the WWF save the coral reefs off Derawan Island.

Arif said he had had no hobbies when he graduated Gadjah Mada University in Yogyakarta and took a public relations job with Berau Coal in East Kalimantan five years ago.

“In Yogyakarta I never missed a chance to watch new movies in the cinema. Now I have to live at mining sites that don’t have cinemas,” he said.

He soon found after-work activities. Armed with a camera he adventured around the 34,127 square kilometers of Berau, also called Bumi Batiwakkal by locals for its beautiful scenery and rich culture.

“I started taking pictures of the street stalls in Tepian and the lives of the children who have to climb the hills and cross the river to reach school,” he said.

He uploaded his photos to fotografer.net, a site for Indonesian photography enthusiasts, hoping to introduce the landscape of Berau to the public — and as part of his company’s corporate social responsibility program.

Soon, Arif found a real substitute for the movies he was missing. He started scuba diving, learned underwater photography and had his first adventure off Derawan Island.

“Although I literally fled after seeing a stingray, I found a colossal movie underwater that is remarkable and sensational.”

Along with five colleagues, Arif established the Berau Coal Diving Club. “I campaigned at the office, inviting my office colleagues to dive together,” he said.

The club attracted the attention of Bob Kamandanu, then president of Berau Coal. The management later provided a speedboat, meaning they no longer had to pay to rent a boat to go to Derawan Island.

The diving club now has 60 members, including employees of Berau Coal’s business partners. They dive not only for fun, but they are taking active role in coral reef conservation around Derawan Island by campaigning against destructive fishing and the disposal of garbage into the sea.

— Indra Harsaputra

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