Ecology graduate and Miss Scuba Indonesia finalist Drucella Benala Dyahati is an advocate for marine conservation. (Photo by Iwan Putuhena)
Indonesia has some of the best diving spots in the world — just ask Drucella Benala Dyahati, a Miss Scuba Indonesia finalist who received the Miss Photogenic award at the competition. Her background as a WWF activist and her major in ecology at the Bogor Institute of Agriculture paved the way for her to join Miss Scuba in promoting tourism and marine conservation.
What do you do as a representative of Miss Scuba Indonesia?
Our main duty is to promote scuba diving. Since we are based in Indonesia, we have to promote diving sites, as well as Indonesian tourism.
Is that why you are here at the exhibition?
Yes, Deep and Extreme is one of the biggest diving shows in Asia, where divers can get information from dive centers across Indonesia. Here you can find diving trip packages, talk-show information on diving topics, diving equipment and much more.
How long have you been diving and how did it all start?
While working on my thesis two years ago, I found myself spending a lot of time at the Gili islands in Lombok. I stayed at one of the dive resorts on Gili Trawangan, where I took diving lessons in my spare time. From there, I started diving and became more interested in the ocean after seeing the underwater beauty.
What was the subject of your thesis and how did you end up at the Gili islands?
My thesis was related to the effect of tourism on the ecosystem, specifically on how tourism can be beneficial via collaboration with local communities and the government to prevent damage to the ecosystem. I chose to conduct my research at Gili Trawangan on the advice of my friends. At first I didn’t expect the island to be as beautiful as they said, but when I got there, I immediately fell in love with the place.
Can you summarize the results of your research in a sentence?
Comprehensive planning is important to establish tourist destinations that are environmentally friendly.
When did you get your diving license?
After finishing my research, I returned to Jakarta with an SSI [Scuba Schools International] license that I acquired while I was staying at the Gilis.
How did you get involved with the Miss Scuba Indonesia competition?
My new interest in diving gave me the courage to audition. To me the competition is not just a beauty pageant; it’s more about marine conservation. At first I thought it was a long shot, I did not expect to be able to join due to my relatively new experience in diving. However, my previous background and passion somehow qualified me to participate.
Tell me about your experience with Miss Scuba Indonesia?
Participating in Miss Scuba Indonesia 2012 was a great opportunity for me. Besides receiving a scholarship to acquire another diving license, a NAUI [National Association of Underwater Instructors] license that I obtained at Pulau Seribu, I also learned how the ocean can have a big impact on slowing global warming. My best experience was learning to love the environment and protect it.
Is Pulau Seribu the best way to start diving for beginners?
Of course, everyone knows Pulau Seribu and it is not far from Jakarta. There are many good diving spots around the area.
Where are you going to dive next?
My next destinations are Bangka Belitung and Karimun Jawa.
How do you encourage people who are afraid of the sea but curious about diving?
Well, if you are curious about scuba diving, then you should learn it properly and acquire a scuba license. Learning and discovering about the sport can reduce your fear, and once you understand more about scuba diving, such as the rules and procedures to handle the worst-case scenario, you will gain more confidence to dive.
What are your thoughts on Jakarta?
My family lives in Bogor, but most of my activities are in the city. To me Jakarta is a very developed city that has affected the surrounding areas. Observing from the existing development, we cannot predict the growth because it is moving too fast. On the positive side, the city triggers development in surrounding areas. It is a classic top-down development concept; however, planning is still necessary in order to establish an environmentally friendly city. That is one thing we need to focus on.
What are your plans in the near future?
Being involved with Miss Scuba gave me a clear vision of the direction that I want to focus on for my grad school, which is oceanography. I will continue to remain active as one of the spokespersons for Miss Scuba, raise awareness of marine conservation. I’m happy to be a small part of a movement for a bigger cause, especially to protect the environment.
Drucella Benala Dyahati was talking to Iwan Putuhena.