Monday, January 19, 2015

The Cetacean Sirenian Indonesia

the Cetasi logo, from

My colleagues and I have been involved in marine mammal conservation in Indonesia for more than a decade now. In addition to our independent works, we have banded together to improve the marine mammal conservation practices. Our first endeavour was the establishment of a mailing list for marine mammal enthusiasts (Marine Mammals Indonesia), created in 2004 when Yahoo was the king of cyberspace. Then, nine years later, we catapulted our joint efforts further by creating an online stranding database ( We have also conducted some workshops (notably, I should say, the November 2013 national stranding workshop, in addition to several local workshops). Those workshops required funding, the proposals of which we wrote either as individuals or on behalf of other institutions (notably the Indonesian Biodiversity Research Center). 

However, we feel that it’s time now to have our own legal vehicle to conduct our conservation programs. At the very least, it would help with grant application. Thus, since the last few months, Februanty Purnomo (Yanti), Adityo Setiawan (Adit) and myself have been discussing the possibility of legally establishing an NGO fully dedicated to the conservation management of marine mammals. The NGO will cover, inter alia, bycatch and entanglement issues, cetacean watching tourism, biological and ecological assessments, marine mammal protected areas, and stranding management. 

Then we decided on the name of the NGO. After much deliberation, we decided to call it the Cetacean Sirenian Indonesia, abbreviated as Cetasi. Yanti found out that cetasi also means “in the heart” or “on the seat of my heart” in Sanskrit. We think it is apt because we do want our efforts to come from the heart; from love. 

We then requested Dinda Prayunita to create us a logo. Again, after much deliberation and drafts, the picture above is our final version. It depicts a smiling whale (to represent the whales and dolphins) and a happy dugong, deliberately drawn in a cartoon style, because we want our adventures to be fun and somewhat carefree. The three waves supporting the animals represent Adit, Yanti and myself as the founders, although we do hope that our organisation will, in time, grow and can support more people.

We are aware of the existence of another Cetasi on the cyber space, hence we will use the full name of our new NGO when making the address of our new website (as opposed to just using the abbreviated Cetasi, although we have grown fond of the name). The new website will still need time to produce, hence I am announcing our intentions here. Consider it the soft opening of the Cetasi.

Here I’d also like to acknowledge the predecessors of our efforts, notably Danielle Kreb and Budiono of the RASI (Rare Aquatic Species of Indonesia) Foundation, as well as Benjamin Kahn of the APEX Environmental. They showed us that you can indeed live your dreams. Our journey has barely started, but I hope the ship will sail in calm waters to achieve our dreams. And even if the waters are choppy, we will make it through somehow, for it’s worth holding onto your dreams.

What next? We need to do the paperwork. We need to register Cetasi as a legal institution in Indonesia. Cetasi will be registered in Jakarta where Adit and Yanti reside. Hopefully it will take no longer than 1-2 months...Will definitely post the update later. 

UPDATE 2 Feb 2015

We have gone online! Check for our website!

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