Our Story

Our story about a girl who made it her mission to create a network of local women who are restoring the reefs of Indonesia.

Coral Catch is developed by Gili Shark Conservation with the support of The International SeaKeepers Society and PADI. Coral Catch is registered as an official NGO organization in Indonesia under the name Gili Matra Bersama.

Our Story Of How It All Started...

Some choices change your life forever. For a Dutch girl called Rose, visiting a tiny island called Gili Air would change the trajectory of her life, the local community, and potentially the world.

It all started with a scuba dive. It doesn’t take a marine biologist to observe or appreciate what’s happening to life in the pristine waters around the Gili Islands in Indonesia. Shark populations are facing extinction and coral reefs once bursting with color are now grey, dead, or dying. The loss of sharks and reefs could lead to a domino effect of destruction for our planet. As a scuba instructor, it’s hard to take people on ‘fun dives’ while the precious life they’ve come to see is dying around them.

When I started Gili Shark Conservation with my friends, I didn’t have all the knowledge I thought I needed, or the years of experience. What I had was a powerful intention, a lot of energy and the desire to be part of the solution. I didn’t want to stand on the sidelines anymore and watch other people try to solve a problem for which we are all responsible.

Rose - Founder Coral Catch & Co-Founder Gili Shark Conservation

Fast forward five years later, Gili Shark Conservation (GSC) is now an international marine research center that hosts researchers, scientists, and ocean lovers from all over the world. A place in the heart of the community of Gili Air where the research team of GSC works hard on their mission; to protect and restore the coral reef environment within the Gili Matra Marine Recreational Reserve and to help to create the first recognized shark nursery ground in Indonesia by 2025. 

our story of female coral restoration team

How The Idea Of Coral Catch Was Born

Due to Covid-19 Gili Shark Conservation was struggling financially and they couldn’t cover the costs of their research and coral restoration program any longer.

"It wasn’t the first time we had to stop our work: in 2018 a 7.0 earthquake severely damaged our house, our small boutique hotel Villa Nangka and the headquarters of Gili Shark Conservation. But giving up is not in my dictionary. In one month, our research team was up and running again and in one year I rebuild our little paradise, and become a mother for the first time.

Becoming a mother made a big impact on my life and made my drive to protect the ocean even bigger. Although I still needs to wait a few years, taking my daughters diving and showing them the underwater world is my biggest dream. But I often wonder…. will there still be anything to see? "

Rose - Founder Coral Catch & Co-Founder Gili Shark Conservation

At the beginning of 2021, the United Nations offered a small grant program for projects like Gili Shark Conservation. Rose knew she had to come up with something special to make a chance. After all, it seemed the whole world was doing coral restoration these days.

Women’s right is always been a topic close to Rose’s heart and while writing the application she suddenly had this ‘aha moment’; what if she would combine her two passions: female empowerment and conservation, and she would set up the first complete female, local coral restoration team in Indonesia?

women supporting women

Just Because They Say It's Impossible, Doesn't Mean You Can't Do It

Rose shared her idea with her husband, some close friends and some people in her network. Most of them started laughing. “Rose, that will never work!” “You will never find enough girls that are able to do the job.”, “Their families will never allow them to be away from home”, “This is the biggest Muslim country in the world, the girls would not feel comfortable wearing swimwear and you cannot go diving with a hijab”, “Indonesian people hate to be in the sun as it changes the color of the skin and having ‘dark skin’ is for the lower class.” and the list of reasons why it would never work went on and on. 

The more people told Rose that it wouldn’t be possible, the more motivated she got to go for it. Because in the end, the people who are crazy enough to think that they can change the world, are the ones who do. She shared her idea of offering local women a coral restoration scholarship on Facebook and Instagram and more than 150 women (!!)  applied.

“I was completely overwhelmed by the number of applications, and it was incredibly inspiring to see that there are so many women in Indonesia that have the passion and the drive to work in conservation. I believe that empowering women and promoting gender equality is crucial to accelerating sustainable development. To truly learn to live in harmony with our environment, women need to be as much a part of shaping our collective destiny as men. For me, female empowerment is not about excluding men, but about raising the voices of women.”

Rose - Founder Coral Catch & Co-Founder Gili Shark Conservation
female coral restoration team

How The Story Ended

Rose never got the grant from the United Nations but she did found some crazy people who believed in her idea and from October 2021 to March 2022 she did a pilot to see if her goals were achievable. She offered eight Indonesian woman a coral restoration scholarship and developed a program in which a local female marine scientist trains them in 9 weeks to set up and monitor a coral restoration project. And it was a big success!

More than 4000m2 of reef got restored, and all of the eight Coral Catch Superwomen were able to make the next step in their marine conservation career. From working as a turtle project leader to conservation officer. From getting a scholarship to become an instructor to getting a scholarship for an exchange program in Japan. And one of them even got a full scholarship for a master and PhD at the University of Queensland in Australia!

women in marine biology

What's Next?

What can one woman possibly do to change or make a difference to a crisis of this magnitude? Rose often talks to people who say:

  • What I do doesn’t matter.
  • I can’t affect the ocean or the planet.
  • Why should I change my habits if other people don’t?
  • Claims of environmental issues are exaggerated.
  • Ocean degradation doesn’t affect me.
  • And the list goes on…

Her response is always the same. What’s the alternative? What if you’re wrong? What if things really are that bad and you did nothing? What if you could have inspired others and created real change? What if that one small thing you did had a snowball effect? Why not get involved in our mission in hopes that real change happens? What do you have to lose?

Get Involved!

Would you like to be part of the solution and support Rose on her mission? There are many ways how you can get involved:

Share your knowledge about conservation, project planning, budgeting & funding, entrepreneurship, mental health, social media, or community engagement with our Coral Catch Superwomen during a one or two-hour masterclass.

2. Research & Development

Technology has already started to play big roles in the environmental movement and the conservation movement. We’ve always known tags and satellites and underwater robots have been used to study the ocean — but what about saving it? Let’s share our knowledge, experience, and technology to develop new ways how we can save the ocean. You can get in touch with us via email (hello@coralcatch.org), Whatsapp (+628523782065) or social media.

With your donation, the Coral Catch sisterhood can keep growing and more coral reefs will be restored. Your donation will not only change a girl’s life, but also the community and coral reefs around her.