With the support of the European Union of Aquarium Curators (EUAC), we are planning a very special adventure this year! Using an underwater drone to explore Sulawesi lakes.

What is happening in Sulawesi lakes may become one of the saddest conservation stories of our era – dozens of endemic species are driven to the brink of extinction, mostly unnoticed and unaided. This is a race against time.

For three years now, we have been trying to raise awareness among local people as well as other stakeholders globally. We collect evidence of threats and data on the biology of endemic species and encourage local people to monitor the lakes and study their unique fauna. Underwater observation is the best way to learn about the lake, but local people are not used to snorkelling, let alone diving. This project will give us the opportunity to use a novel approach – an underwater drone will allow us to carry out monitoring in a much wider area, at greater depths, more often and more safely. It will also attract more people to our cause and boost our outreach – the educational and social aspects are very important, especially in Lake Poso where small-scale fishing is an important resource and habit. Last but not least, it will help us make conservation work look cool 😊!

During the last expedition to Sulawesi in October 2023, we shot the first trial videos with the drone in the Poso and Matano lakes. There is a lot of learning and work ahead of us, but we already know that the drone gives us great opportunities to explore the depths and get a view from a different perspective. We have prepared a video about it, which you can find on our new YouTube channel.

We thank EUAC and also our partner AKWB, who allowed us to partially fund this activity with a donation from MEGAZOO & Friends. We are also grateful to all the volunteers and other people who have a genuine interest in exploring the local freshwater biodiversity. We look forward to working together in the field! We start at Lake Poso in collaboration with Institut Mosintuwu 😊

Markéta Rejlková