When did you start caring about the state of the Indonesian seas?
Since 2004, I had been travelling and diving constantly. As a travelling host, I went to a lot of cities in Indonesia, and since 2005 I started spending time educating the local people to solve the problems that I saw in the seas. I documented the underwater ecosystem and showed it to local people. Surprisingly, many of them were not aware of the existence of whales, coral, and most of them were only aware of the dolphins because they help them when they’re out fishing. I did that for many years until I decided to create Sea Soldier.
When did you start Sea Soldier?
I started it on March 28, 2015, so now it has been around three-and-a-half years that we have been operating.
What’s the motivation behind Sea Soldier?
It stems from the commitment to change people’s life patterns into caring about the environment. I want people to understand that protecting the environment is a must: it’s a part of life. I created Sea Soldier mainly because I need more hands to help, especially now because I’m married, and I have more responsibilities than before.
What’s does Sea Soldier do exactly?
Every part of Indonesia has its own unique environmental issues. For example, we talk about mangrove issues in Banyuwangi and turtle eggs in Padang, so we always try to raise each area’s environmental issues and then find solutions for them. I will help to look for sponsors and create concepts for my teams.
So far, what successes have you achieved?
One of our regular programmes is to prevent dolphins being used in circuses. And I think, so far, we have done well in Karimun Jawa, with one dolphin distribution point has been closed. In Banyuwangi, we have monitored the growth of mangroves and we can see that the growth has been progressing well. Mangroves are important to help to prevent erosion. In Padang, there were a lot of people selling turtle eggs, but now the situation is slowly improving. Indonesia is vast, so to really make a change will take some time.
How do you make environmental campaigns cool for younger generation?
Young people use a lot of social media, so I always put up a lot of selfies that inspire self-action. For example, I will share a selfie of me bringing my own water bottles to encourage others to do so as well— that’s how I try to utilise social media wisely.
There’s a lot of ‘noise’ on social media with everyone trying to sell their own ideals. How do you keep the message you want to convey relevant?
I think nature’s law applies in social media. For those who really want to change the environment, it will show, and they will commit to it. If it’s just for show, people can tell too.
So you target the young people through your social media?
Yes, I want to let them know that carrying plastic bags is not cool—bringing you own reusable bag is cool. I want to create the image that being environmentally conscious is actually cool.
I grow my own vegetables at home and I always separate out my plastic trash for recycling. I always carry reusable bags too wherever I go, and I even carry my own reusable straws. Carrying them feels like carrying my own wallet now [laughs].
In between your activities, how do keep yourself in shape?
I alternate between boxing and yoga. I do yoga because it gives me the same feeling as when I’m diving underwater.
If could can be any sea animal, what will you be?
Jellyfish! Because it’s beautiful but dangerous [laughs].
What’s the most important message that you want the younger generation to remember?
Protect your planet.