Who Are We




Helen Newman is co-founder of Sea Sanctuaries Trust and a marine biologist.  She worked in Raja Ampat as a consultant to Conservation International for the 4 years. Helen has extensive experience in environmental impact assessments, public aquarium operations and ecotourism developments.  Helen has been working in Asia for the last 30 years and is currently based in Bali.


Simon Day is co-founder of Sea Sanctuaries Trust and a British qualified lawyer who has lived and worked in Asia for 16 years.  Simon, whose first degree is in Biological Science has experience in the establishment and operation of large conservation programs.  He is a partner in a liveaboard dive boat which is based in eastern Indonesia & cruised/dived the waters of Raja Ampat since 2008.



Dr Mark Erdmann is senior advisor to Conservation International’s Indonesian Marine Program. His specific focus is on improving the conservation and science-based management of the ultra-diverse coastal and marine resources of the Raja Ampat Corridor within the Bird’s Head Seascape in Indonesian Papua.
 Prior to joining Conservation International, Erdmann was the Marine Protected Areas Advisor for USAID’s Natural Resources Management Project in Indonesia, where he has lived for many years. Dr. 
Erdmann’s planned postdoctoral research project on Indonesian coral reefs was interrupted by the chance discovery of the coelacanth Latimeria menadoensis, which had, up to that time, been thought extinct. He worked closely with Indonesian authorities to develop a national conservation strategy for the coelacanth and eventual CITES Appendix I protection. Mark has been involved in reef surveys throughout Indonesia, discovering and describing 15 new species of mantis shrimp while helping document biodiversity patterns and prioritizing reef systems for conservation interventions. 



Dr. Gerry Allen is a specialist on the classification, distribution, and ecology of Indo-Pacific coral reef fishes and freshwater fishes of Australia/New Guinea. He is the author of 36 books and more than 400 scientific articles. Gerry is definitely “old school” in his approach to science, spending nearly as much time in the field as behind a desk looking through a microscope. He received his PhD in marine zoology from the University of Hawaii in 1971. The lure of Australia’s rich coral reef fauna and poorly documented fishes were motivating factors that took Gerry and his wife Connie to Sydney in 1972. Two year later he began a 25-year career as Curator of Fishes at the Western Australian Museum in Perth, where Gerry and Connie still reside. Gerry left the Museum in 1997 to work as a private consultant for biodiversity surveys in developing countries, chiefly in the Southeast Asian region with Conservation International, TNC, and WWF.  Travel has played an essential part throughout his career. Gerry has logged over 12,000 hours of scuba diving in all tropical seas, especially the vast Indo-Pacific region. Underwater photography has been a long-time interest and several thousand of his photos have appeared in a variety of international publications. 

liz wood 3.jpg

Dr Elizabeth Wood is an independent consultant who has worked extensively for the UK-based Marine Conservation Society, concentrating on marine resource management and biodiversity conservation.  For the past 15 years she has managed the Semporna Islands Project in Sabah which helped to establish the largest MPA in Malaysia. This programme has involved reef surveys, investigations into resource use and extensive stakeholder engagement as the plans for the Park developed. Tackling key issues such as fish bombing and over-fishing that affect the area remain at the top of the agenda. In addition to this on-going project, Liz is also engaged in a reef fisheries programme in the Maldives, working with colleagues at the Marine Research Centre to review and produce management plans for the grouper, reef fish and aquarium fisheries. Liz has also worked extensively on trade in marine aquarium and curio species at all stages from collection to retail sale and at national and international level. With a fascination and keen research interest in reef fauna and flora, when time allows, she likes nothing better than to be on the reef with her camera.


Image 1.jpeg

Dr Mateus Baronio is a marine biologist with extensive experience in environmental management and research. He is experienced in use of a Micro Remotely Operated Vehicle as a tool for studies of shark behaviour and diver impact and has conducted a wide range of environmental assessments.  Dr Matt manages our conservation and ranger patrol programme


Steve Woods is a prominent marine photojournalist dedicated to the conservation of the seas. After working as a photojournalist and sports photographer for the UK national press for many years he decided to take his cameras underwater photographing a wide variety of subjects as well as working on various other conservation projects. Steve manages our volunteer expedition programme, all photography and videography as well as graphic design and social media. 


Matthew Clugston  helps us with all our digital efforts. Matt works on our website, social media, videos, & everything else connected to everything else!


Whitney Anderson is a coastal and marine resource management advisor.  She has advised the Palauan Government in the design of fisheries management schemes and works closely with Palau’s Reef Management Program in community-based resource management programs. Whitney manages our community development programmes


Ariel Dimara is Kepala Kampong (village head) of Saukabu village on the nearby island of Pam. Ariel works with Sea Sanctuaries as our Village Liaison Manager and plays a vital role in effective communication between us and the local communities. Continual dialogue is one of the foundation stones of the project. Areil & his clan have lived in Pam for several generations although they hail from the island of Biak in Cenderwasih Bay


Jan Pieter is Head of the Sea Sanctuaries Rangers. He is responsible for managing a team of 19 local rangers patrolling the Penemu No Take Zone.




Ian Burman is a Partner of Laytons, solicitors based in London and he heads the firm’s Charities group. Ian specialises in Charity law including trading and commercial activities  & Charity tax planning and sits on the board of trustees of a number of charities. Ian is a keen diver and sportsman and lives near London.


Andrew Collins is a consultant to Laytons and has more than 40 years corporate law experience in the UK and abroad. Andrew served in the British Territorial Army for many years. He also served as Master of the Worshipful Company of Fanmakers and was one of Her Majesty’s Commissioners for Taxes from 1983 to 2005. From an early age he took a keen interest in sailing and has cruised extensively and also raced yachts in the UK and USA. He served as Rear Commodore of the Royal Thames Yacht Club.


John Rugg is an engineer with a long career in British industry, most of it spent with ICI. He has a wealth of business experience in sales, marketing, export, trading, logistics and process management. After retiring from ICI John acted as Regional Chairman of The British Horse Society and sat on the Boards of the Not For Profit organisations ‘Excellence Northwest’ & the ‘GX Sailing Association’. His main interest is sailing and whilst no longer racing, he skippers his own yacht in the UK and northern European waters and charters abroad for coastal and offshore cruising. He has an interest in the marine environment and enjoys good food, wine and company.