Agustin Capriati, a student at Marine Animal Ecology (ASG) has been awarded the prestigious Young Explorers Grant from National Geographic - Asia. The objective of the project are twofold: 1) Perform monitoring on jellyfish lakes, and 2) Conduct an awareness-raising program along with local stakeholders and communities. This will serve as a basis to inititiate the conservation of jellyfish lakes.
Agustin is a Master's student of Aquaculture and Marine Resource Management at Wageningen University. Currently, she is working together with Dr. Lisa Becking on the project Islands of Gold: Conservation of Golden Jellyfish Lakes in Indonesia. From a young age, Agustin was interested in conservation of marine species and related issues. Since 2011, she has been working on projects on conservation issues together with local communities in Purwodadi, Trenggalek and Bangsring (East Java). Along with a group of other marine enthusiasts, Agustin took the opportunity of long summer breaks to visit the local communities and discuss conservation issues.
Recently, she became interested in jellyfish when she read the National Geographic article entitled "The Famous Jellyfish Lake is Running Out of Jellyfish", on current events in Palau. In Wageningen, she met Dr. Lisa Becking, who has been working on the protection of unique jellyfish lakes in Indonesia for several years. The area of Misool of Indonesia is a hotspot of marine lakes, and multiple of them are filled with thousands of beautiful golden jellyfish (Mastigias papua). Unfortunately, there is no conservation and management plan for these unique lakes. This might become a serious issue, since dive operators are currently promoting tourism towards the lakes, which is potentially very harmful.
Agustin therefore applied for the National Geographic Young Explorers Grant, a grant for individuals from age 18-25 which aims to aid their efforts in conservation, research and exploration. She has received the full funding ($5000) to execute the project. With this funding, Agustin will work together with Wageningen University and Research (WUR), Papua University (UNIPA), Conservation International (CI), The Nature Conservancy (TNC), and Baseftin Misool Eco Resort to develop a program to conserve the jellyfish in Misool, Indonesia.