Saving the reef manta rays of Maratua Island Saving the reef manta rays of Maratua Island

featurewild files: marine life at maratua


384 square kilometers of pristine beaches and mangrove forests

Protecting Maratua Island marine biodiversity

Surrounding waters are believed to host the third-highest level of marine biodiversity in the world.

1,000+ marine species in the Derawan Archipelago

Maratua has more than 20 dive spots where a variety of species can be observed, such as:

Manta rays

manta rays

green sea turtles

green sea turtles

Barracuda icon


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Maratua Island has a population of about

3,000 people

Most belong to the Bajo Tribes, also known as Sea Gypsies, an ethnic group with deep knowledge of the coastal ecosystem.

However, Maratua’s biodiversity is threatened by:

  • rising temperatures
  • higher tides
  • land erosion
  • destructive fishing practices
Maratua’s marine biodiversity is threatened

actions taken

To protect Maratua’s biodiversity, the Maratua Ecotourism for Sustainable Small Islands program (MESSI) was formed as a collaboration between:

  • Chevron
  • the KEHATI foundation, a non-governmental organization
  • local government agencies

After rigorous consultation with stakeholders, MESSI partnered with locals to:

  • develop ecotourism plans for Maratua diving
  • raise the community’s awareness of climate change
  • implement reef rehabilitation and conservation programs for protected species like the green sea turtle

green sea turtles

These turtles are listed as an endangered species by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN).

Major threats include:

  • loss of nesting beaches
  • hunting
  • pollution
Chevron implements conservation programs to protect the endangered green sea turtles of Maratua Island

grow to a length of 4 feet

Diving with endangered green sea turtles on Maratua island

live to be 80 years old

Chevron works to protect endangered green sea turtles, habitats and ecosystems

breathe air but can stay underwater for up to two hours

green sea turtles

return to the same beach every year to lay up to 100 eggs, which hatch two months later


MESSI’s Maratua Eco Dive Center

  • Built in 2016 
  • Encourages the use of homestay programs managed by women
  • Additional monthly income of about $80 (or 1.2 million Indonesian rupiah) generated for the 200 homestay families in a nearby fishing village called Bohe Sellian

MESSI’s ecotourism activities have influenced residents to participate in environmental conservation and reduce pressure on natural resources.

The program also provides hospitality and management training to help elevate ecotourism standards for local businesses.

reef manta rays

Reef manta rays are listed as a vulnerable species by the IUCN.

  • primary threat comes from fishing and habitat degradation
  • large size and slow swimming speed make them an easy target

Manta rays

grow to an average width of 400 centimeters (about 13 feet)

Reef manta rays listed as a vulnerable species by the IUCN

females have an estimated life span of 40 years

• begin breeding at 8-10 years of age
• typically give birth to a single pup at a time
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On November 13, 2017, Chevron’s conservation work in Maratua was presented internationally at the 23rd United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) Conference of the Parties (COP) in Bonn, Germany.

our actions were consistent with our goal
to conserve biodiversity:
we strive to avoid or reduce the potential for significant impacts on sensitive species, habitats and ecosystems

Wild Files is a series on that spans the world to cover interesting examples of how we deliver on our commitment to environmental stewardship.

Published: September 2018