The project began when Conservation International collaborated with The Nature Conservancy to develop education in the islands of Raja Ampat, West Papua. The education vessel named Kalabia, cruises to every island in Raja Ampat to invite children from the villages to learn about environmental and marine biodiversity, with an aim to contribute to the preservation of the rich marine biodiversity there. The name Kalabia is taken from an endemic affecting the “walking” shark (Hemiscyllium Freycineti), which can only be found in Raja Ampat.
There is an urgent need to increase awareness among the people in the islands on the importance of preserving the environment as Raja Ampat is home to over 1500 fish species, 600 corals, 15 sea mammals, and 40 kinds of shrimp. Moreover, Raja Ampat is at the heart of the “Coral Triangle”, an area considered by the World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF) as a top priority for marine conservation.
The Kalabia spends three days in each village, educating children with a interesting and attractive learning curriculum. For example, when they have a session about reefs, the group goes diving together to directly see the various reefs and then back to the ship to discuss further. Every night, Kalabia organizes a film screening on a port and invites others to join the audience.
The children who are invited to study on the ship are from grades four and five, chosen as part of the long-term goals of the project. The kids are extremely excited every time the Kalabia leans on the port of their islands and feel happy to study in the colorful ship, full of marine flora and fauna decoration.
According to Merry, one of the teachers who has been staying on the ship for 15 days, the Kalabia Marine Conservation Project hopes that children in Raja Ampat have a willingness to be pro-conservation and take care of their marine biodiversity.