The sacred island of Menjangan off the northwest coast of Bali, Indonesia has become a focal point in the struggle to protect coral reefs. This island nurtures the most biodiverse and luxuriant wealth of corals in Bali and lies within the jurisdiction of Bali Barat National Park. Yet, the reef is under threat from local Javanese fishers who use homemade explosives to bomb fish as well as global warming, over fishing, pollution and increased reef damage by tourists diving and anchoring on the reefs.

The non-profit organization Biosphere Foundation was invited to help steward this reef by local people in 2009. With the help of College of Charleston biology professor Phil Dustan and Wildlife Conservation Society scientists, local scientists, and students, Biosphere Foundation has initiated a baseline study of the reef and a long-term community conservation program. The program is based onboard Biosphere Foundation’s ship, Mir, in collaboration with Dr. David Makes of Yayasan Dwi Asih Sejahtera.

The prestigious Ralph Brown Expedition Award has been given to Dustan and to Orla Doherty & Abigail Alling of the Biosphere Foundation, in honor of Dustan’s new technique being used to measure the vitality and ecological integrity of coral reefs called digital rugosity.

The award is given by the Royal Geographical Society with the Institute of British Geographers.

Additionally Marisla Foundation, Threshold Foundation and the Roy A. Hunt Foundation have participated in funding the program.