NASA Earth Observatory image modified by SkyTruth

Empowering Ocean Advocates


Cerulean Case Study

Empowering Ocean Advocates

Andrew Dixon epitomizes the independent Cerulean user – a diligent watchdog for the waters surrounding Nikoi Island, his 37-acre resort off the east coast of Bintan, Indonesia. Since anyone with an internet connection can use Cerulean to track oil spills and its potential culprits, that is exactly what Dixon is doing.

“Nikoi’s charm lies in its untouched, natural beauty. Our mission is to keep it that way. Cerulean makes it easier.”

Panorama of Nikoi Island at sunset.
A panoramic view of Nikoi Island at sunset. Photo credit: Andrew Dixon, Nikoi Island.

Although there haven’t been any major spills around his resort in more than a decade, there is a tremendous amount of vessel traffic in the South China Sea, where shipping lanes connect East Asia with Europe and the Middle East. Dixon is getting to know the Cerulean platform to make sure that if there ever is an accident in the region, he can notify authorities to take immediate action.

Dixon is committed to not only protecting the environment but also restoring it. He and his co-owners have helped establish three local foundations which are improving education opportunities, establishing a marine protected area, and removing plastic from the sea. More than 350 tons of plastic have been removed from local beaches so far. This effort is crucial for the health of hundreds of ocean-dependent species, many of which are endangered. This includes 109 birds, 12 mammals, 21 reptiles, 276 marine fish, 202 marine invertebrates, and 62 plant species, all of which call the area home.

For fishing communities in the surrounding area, the marine ecosystem serves as a principal source of income. A disaster such as a spill could leave thousands without work and is another important reason to combat pollution and monitor shipping activity.

“Cerulean provides a great way for us to see what’s going on in the area and identify the people who are responsible,” said Dixon.

“Being able to match a spill to a ship’s traffic is amazing. In the past, this has been a laborious process, but now it’s all automated. Just letting captains know they are being watched is powerful.”

Dixon’s work to protect marine life and the surrounding environment has earned Nikoi Island the title of Global Ecosphere Retreat, one of only ten in the world. This designation is the highest rating for sustainable resorts, awarded by The Long Run, a collective of nature-based tourism businesses committed to sustainability.

When reviewing the designation, The Long Run considered Nikoi’s efforts and achievements in the management of 342,240 acres of marine protected area, sustaining more than 200 local staff, safeguarding local traditions, and raising money which is then invested in responsible tourism initiatives or donated to conservation nonprofits.

Map of the marine protected area on the east coast of Bintan Island in Indonesia and key biodiversity habitats in the area. Part of the MPA surrounds Nikoi Island.
Map of the marine protected area on the east coast of Bintan Island in Indonesia and key biodiversity habitats in the area. Data credit: UNEP-WCMC, WorldFish Centre, WRI, TNC (2021). Map © SkyTruth.

The island’s mission is part of a growing movement of green hospitality which allows vacationers the opportunity to give back to local communities and contribute to programs that safeguard natural resources. With such a fragile and significant ecosystem, every effort counts, and when done well, hospitality provides the perfect intersection of local and international engagement to realize a more sustainable future.

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