If you're like me reading all this information, thinking, "this sounds too good to be true. It can't be real, " let me tell you, this program is truly just that amazing. I came to this program with no diving experience, and in 14 weeks, I became an SSI Divemaster. Indo Ocean Project believes that "to be a good research diver, you must first need to be a good diver," so holding our program at Reeflex Divers in Nusa Penida was an excellent choice. The standards for excellence at IOP and Reeflex are high, and it can be overwhelming at first, but you learn a lot. By my final weeks, I felt so prepared to handle whatever curveballs the Penida waters or assisting customers decided to throw at me. If you want to become a strong diver, learn in Penida through IOP/Reeflex.
On the conservation side of the internship, the workshops are fascinating and led by staff who are passionate about what they teach, and participating in data collection for multiple research topics is so rewarding. The program has specific requirements for the conservation aspect, but there are no limitations if you want to go above and beyond. You become certified in numerous data collection methods, such as becoming a certified survey diver for roving surveys, deploying/retrieving BRUVs, and then analyzing the footage. You also receive certification in different marine ecologies such as shark, manta, turtle, and even coral ecology, where you get the opportunity to propagate coral in the project's coral nursery. You can participate in additional research, such as going through and uploading identification shots of turtles, mantas, and molas or working on benthic survey analysis – which is what I did. It's crazy to think how much I learned in such a short amount of time – whether it be about diving or marine life, you are fully immersed in the project's mission and surrounded by others who have the same passion. I will forever be so grateful for this internship, and I can't wait to use these new skills and knowledge in my future profession.
Thank you to all the IOP and Reeflex staff, you guys are amazing, and I would give you six stars if I could.