Indonesia

Expedition Options

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Expedition 1 – diving and marine biology in the Coral Triangle

Start date: 24th July
Expedition length: 2 weeks (2 weeks marine)
Why choose this expedition?
A taster of diving and marine research

This expedition is designed for those who want a taster of diving and marine biology research and is based on Hoga Island in the Wakatobi Marine National Park. The island is very small, takes 4 hours to walk around on the white sand beaches and hosts up to 200 marine biology researchers and students each summer. So this is an ideal place to learn to dive to PADI Open Water level, which you would do in your first week on the island if you are not already dive trained. For your second week you would complete an Indo-Pacific reef survey techniques course with two lectures and two dives each day to learn about the survey methods used to assess different aspects of the reefs and some of the commonly encountered species. If you are already dive trained when you arrive then you start with this course and help out with the marine research teams in your second week. You can complete up to 20 dives on this expedition and develop your interests in marine biology.

Expedition 2 – Wallacea forest and diving in the Wakatobi

Start date: 12th June
Expedition length: 4 weeks (2 weeks terrestrial, 2 weeks marine)
Why choose this expedition? Gives an introduction to both forest and marine research

This expedition is based in the endemic rich forests of the Wallacea region on Buton Island for the first two weeks, followed by two weeks in the Wakatobi Marine National Park. The first week is split between jungle skills training (including an optional canopy access experience*) and learning about Wallacean wildlife and ecology from lectures and field based practicals, which are carried out in the forests around a small rural village in central Buton. In the second week the group will be moved to the primary forests in the little studied northwest corner of the island and will help a team of biodiversity researchers targeting bird communities, large mammals, bats, reptiles, amphibians and forest structure. The third and fourth weeks will be based on Hoga Island in the Wakatobi. If you are not already dive trained then you will start your time on Hoga with a PADI Open Water dive training course and then in your last week you will complete an Indo-Pacific reef survey techniques course with lectures and dive based practicals. If you are already dive trained when you arrive you start your third week on this Indo-Pacific reef survey techniques course and then join the team of marine scientists working on a range of projects including stereo video surveys of reef fish, 3D mapping of coral reefs, behaviour studies on cleaner fish and fiddler crabs and many other projects.

*This carries an additional cost

Expedition 3 – Wallacea forest biodiversity mapping

Start date: 12th June
Expedition length: 4 weeks (4 weeks terrestrial)
Why choose this expedition? Rapid biodiversity assessment of previously unexplored forests

The far north Buton biogeographical region represents the last remaining area of wilderness forest found on Buton Island. The region supports a large and thriving population of the endangered dwarf buffalo (Anoa), and an array of different habitats that remain largely unexplored to science. After a first week in central Buton Island completing a three day jungle training course (with optional Canopy access course*) and a Wallacean wildlife and conservation course, volunteers will be based in a forest camp in the north of the island. Here you will accompany and assist biologists who are hoping to uncover records of Sulawesi endemics such as the anoa and threatened bird species such as the maleo, as well as to document the main species of mammals, birds, reptiles and amphibians present
in the area. Surveys will include distance and patch occupancy estimates of large mammal species, mist netting for bats, pitline and standard search transects for reptiles, spotlight surveys for amphibians and point counts for birds. It is highly possible that this team will turn up new species records for Buton Island given that they will be working in previously unsurveyed areas. Due to the demanding nature of this expedition, volunteers must be willing to adapt to living in fly-camps, sudden changes of schedule, and traversing various forms of terrain.

*This carries an additional cost

Expedition 4 – Wallacea forest and Wakatobi Marine National Park Biodiversity

Start date: 10th July
Expedition length: 4 weeks (2 weeks terrestrial, 2 weeks marine)
Why choose this expedition? Gives an introduction to both forest and marine research

This expedition is based in the forests of Buton Island for two weeks followed by two weeks on Hoga Island in the Wakatobi Marine National Park. The first week is split between jungle skills training (an optional canopy access experience is also possible*) and learning about Wallacean wildlife and ecology from lectures and field based practicals. In the second week the group will be moved from their training camp in central Buton, to an expanse of pristine forest in the little studied northwest corner of the island. Here you will help a team of biodiversity researchers completing surveys targeting birds, large mammals bats, reptiles, amphibians and forest structure. The third and fourth weeks will be based on Hoga Island in the Wakatobi. If you are not already dive trained then you will start your time on Hoga with a PADI Open Water dive training course and then in your last week you will complete an Indo-Pacific reef survey techniques course with lectures and dive based practicals. If you are already dive trained when you arrive you start your third week on this Indo-Pacific reef survey techniques course and then join the team of marine scientists working on a range of projects including stereo video surveys of reef fish, 3D mapping of coral reefs, behaviour studies on cleaner fish and butterflyfish and many other projects.

*This carries an additional cost

Expedition 5 – Wallacea forest biodiversity mapping

Start date: 3rd July
Expedition length: 4 weeks (4 weeks terrestrial)
Why choose this expedition? Rapid biodiversity assessment of previously unexplored forests

This is the second of two exploratory expeditions to the forests and mountains of the northwest corner of Buton Island in SE Sulawesi. The first week is spent in central Buton Island where you will complete a Wallacean wildlife and ecology course with field practicals and spend three days living in temporary forest camps and learning jungle survival skills. Note there is an optional canopy access course available*. After that you will move to a camp in the remote northwestern forests of the island and work out of an established base camp. The last two weeks of the expedition will involve trekking into new areas previously unvisited by teams of scientists and living in temporary camps. These surveys are hoping to uncover records of Sulawesi endemics such as the anoa (a dwarf buffalo) and threatened bird species such as the maleo as well as to document the main species of mammals, birds, reptiles and amphibians. Surveys will include distance estimates of macaques and tarsiers, mist netting for bats, pitline and standard search transects for reptiles, spotlight surveys for amphibians and point counts for birds. It is possible that this team will turn up new species records for Buton Island given that they will be working in previously
unsurveyed areas.

*This carries an additional cost

Expedition 6 – marine research in the Coral Triangle

Start date: 19th June
Expedition length: 4 weeks (4 weeks marine)
Why choose this expedition? Introduction to marine research in the Indo-Pacific

This expedition is based at the Opwall Hoga Island Marine Research Centre, which is the most published research centre in the Coral Triangle (the triangle of reefs stretching from the Philippines to Borneo in the west and New Guinea in the east, which together possess the highest species richness of hard coral species globally). Hoga Island has no roads or vehicles and long white sand beaches. Every summer the island has a big influx of marine researchers and students helping complete both an annual monitoring programme for reef changes and innovative research projects. If you are not dive trained then your expedition will begin with completing a PADI Open Water dive training course and then an Indo Pacific reef survey techniques course in your following week. This course consists of daily lectures and dive based practicals. If you arrive already dive qualified you would spend your first week completing the Indo-Pacific reef survey techniques course. After this, for the remaining weeks, you will join a wide range of researchers working on projects such as the physiological adaptations of intertidal species, coral reef productivity etc. and those monitoring changes in the reefs from video transect surveys of the reefs, 3D mapping of the reefs, stereo video surveys of fish populations, fish landing surveys and other projects. On this expedition you should complete around 40 dives and will have the opportunity to do additional dive training* in your spare time.

*This carries an additional cost

Expedition 7 – Divemaster training

Start date: 19th June
Expedition length: 4 weeks (4 weeks marine)
Why choose this expedition? Opportunity to gain a Divemaster qualification whilst working with marine scientists

This expedition is based on Hoga Island in the Wakatobi Marine National Park where upwards of 200 marine researchers and students are based for an 8 week season each year. If you want to gain your Divemaster qualification at a site where everyone is interested in and working on marine biology projects, then this is an ideal location. To qualify for this training you need to be Rescue Diver qualified and have completed at least 60 dives. Over the course of the four weeks you will be helping to train and provide in-water support to new divers and those completing marine research projects. During this expedition you should complete at least 40 dives on some of the most biodiverse reefs in the world.

Expedition 8 – sharks, rays and reefs around the southern Buton Islands

Start date: 19th June
Expedition length: 4 weeks (4 weeks marine)
Why choose this expedition? Best expedition to see sharks and rays whilst doing marine biology field work

This expedition is based at the Pantai Nirwana marine research centre near Bau Bau. It involves diving to monitor the reefs around the southern Buton islands, and also working from boats surveying sharks and rays. These reefs although just as good if not better in some aspects, are currently outside the Wakatobi Marine National Park and have no protection from destructive fishing methods. The objective is to collect sufficient data to show the value of these reefs, to enable further steps to be taken to implement a conservation management strategy to protect them. If you are not dive trained, you spend your first week learning to dive to PADI Open Water level. The second week is spent completing an Indo-Pacific reef survey techniques course, which will train you in the identification of some of the commoner fish, macroinvertebrate and coral species. If you are already dive trained on arrival then you do the reef survey techniques course in your first week. During your remaining weeks you join the research scientists on the monitoring programme, diving twice a day and analysing data in the evenings. You also will work on boats using Baited Underwater Remote Video Systems (BRUVS) to survey shark and ray abundance and distribution. During this expedition, you should complete up to 40 dives and can also do additional dive training in your spare time*, whilst gaining a wealth of marine biology surveying experience.

*This carries an additional cost

Expedition 9 – sharks, rays and reefs around the southern Buton Islands

Start date: 10th July
Expedition length: 4 weeks (4 weeks marine)
Why choose this expedition? Best expedition to see sharks and rays while gaining marine biology research experience

This expedition follows the same itinerary as for Expedition 8 but with a different start date and is based at the Pantai Nirwana marine research centre on southern Buton Island. The reefs around this site are currently outside the boundaries of the Wakatobi Marine National Park, yet are equally diverse. If you are not dive trained then in your first week you would learn to dive to PADI Open Water level. In your second week you would complete an Indo-Pacific reef survey techniques course with two lectures and two dives each day to learn about the survey methods used to assess different aspects of the reefs and some of the commonly encountered species. After your training period, you would then join the marine biology research teams and help with the shark and ray surveys as well as the
reef monitoring surveys. During this expedition, you should complete up to 40 dives and can also do
additional dive training in your spare time.*

*This carries an additional cost

Expedition 10 – Wallacea forest and biodiversity research in the coral triangle

Start date: 19th June
Expedition length: 6 weeks (2 weeks terrestrial, 4 weeks marine)

Why choose this expedition? Introduction to forest biodiversity research and more in-depth marine research

The first two weeks of this six week expedition is spent in the forests of the Wallacea region on Buton Island. Followed by four weeks with the marine research teams on Hoga Island in the Wakatobi Marine National Park. The first week is split between jungle skills training and learning about Wallacean wildlife and ecology from lectures and field based practicals (you may also choose an optional canopy access experience*). In the second week the group will help a team of biodiversity researchers complete surveys targeting bird communities using point counts, distance sampling and patch occupancy analysis for large mammals, mist netting for bats and herpetofauna surveys with pitfall lines and will be based in the primary forests in the little studied northwest corner of the island. The remaining four weeks will be based on Hoga, at the centre of the Coral Triangle – the most biodiverse reefs in the world. If you are not already dive trained but want to learn then you will start your time on Hoga with a PADI Open Water dive training course and then in your next week you will complete an Indo-Pacific reef survey techniques course with lectures and dive based practicals. If you are already dive trained or wishing to only snorkel on the expedition, you will complete the Indo-Pacific reef survey techniques course. After completing the Indo-Pacific reef survey techniques course you will then join the large team of researchers working on a range of projects including coral intercept video transects and 3D mapping of reefs, fishery landing surveys, stereo video surveys of reef fish communities, physiology studies of the adaptation of intertidal species to increased temperature, salinity and reduced oxygen levels and many other projects.

*This carries an additional cost

Expedition 11 – marine biology research in the Wakatobi Marine National Park

Start date: 19th June
Expedition length: 6 weeks (6 weeks marine)
Why choose this expedition? An in-depth marine biology experience

This expedition is based on Hoga Island in the Wakatobi Marine National Park which is in the centre of the Coral Triangle (most diverse reef systems in the world as judged from the diversity of hard corals). If you are not dive trained then your first week is spent learning to dive to PADI Open Water level. Then you need to complete an Indo-Pacific reef survey techniques course which as part of the course will start training you in the identifications of some of the commoner fish, macroinvertebrate and coral species. If you are already dive trained on arrival then you do the Indo-Pacific reef survey techniques course in the first week. For the rest of your time you will be helping a series of researchers and scientists with marine biology projects. There is a whiteboard system in operation and each of the scientists writes up what they are doing the following day and you can sign up for projects as diverse as butterflyfish diversity as an indicator of reef health, to new technology projects such as 3D mapping of reefs. During the six weeks you should complete 60+ dives, become familiar with different marine biology survey techniques and how to identify the main species of fish and coral. You can also do additional dive training in your spare time*.

*This carries an additional cost

Expedition 12 – marine biology immersion

Start date: 12th June
Expedition length: 8 weeks (8 weeks marine)
Why choose this expedition? Best expedition for an in-depth marine biology experience

This expedition is based on Hoga Island in the Wakatobi Marine National Park which is in the centre of the Coral Triangle (most diverse reef systems in the world as judged from the diversity of hard corals). The expedition starts earlier than any of the other marine projects and you travel into the site with the incoming scientists and dive staff and help with opening up the marine research base. It also means that since only very small numbers of potential marine biologists are allowed onto this expedition you get very close attention in your first week as you are completing training. If you are not dive trained then your first week is spent learning to dive to PADI Open Water level. Then you need to complete an Indo-Pacific reef survey techniques course which as part of the course will start training you in the identifications of some of the commoner fish, macroinvertebrate and coral species. If you are already dive trained on arrival then you do the Indo-Pacific reef survey techniques course in that first week. For the remaining weeks of your time on site you will be working with different scientists and researchers helping with their projects. The aim should be by the time you leave, to be proficient in the identification of fish, corals and macroinvertebrate species. The diversity here is approximately 10X greater than the Caribbean and few people can claim to have this competence. You should complete 80 dives over the course of the expedition involving line transect surveys for corals, stereo video surveys for reef fish and many other projects.

Indonesia

Additional dive training

Additional dive training beyond Open Water level is available and can be fitted around your work on other projects; you do not need to specify the additional courses on your options list. Courses include Advanced Open Water Diver ($220), Emergency First Response ($150) or Rescue Diver ($400 – includes Emergency First Response). These extra courses may not be available at all times and enrolment may depend on the number of people wanting the training. All prices listed are in US dollars.

Indonesia 2

Site Facilities

Forest

Jungle training and canopy access 

This week will be spent partly in the picturesque village of Labundo with accommodation in the local houses. Rooms will be shared and have a mandi (Indonesia bathroom) shared with the host family. Meals are taken at the village hall. If you are doing the canopy access course this will be run for the part of the week you are in Labundo village. For the other part of this week the teams are based in temporary forest camps with hammocks, that are set up as part of the jungle training course. Washing will be in the river and there will be forest toilets in these camps. Meals are prepared by the jungle survival team in camp.

Canopy Access Experience Canopy Access Limited, the team that helped David Attenborough ascend into the canopy for Life of Mammals, Life in the Undergrowth and Planet Earth series, will be on site to provide an experience for students during the jungle training week. They will be in Labundo, running a half-day course on safe ascent into the canopy. The course can be done as part of the jungle training and will show you how to ascend 40m+ into the canopy along with a qualified instructor. This optional experience costs US$170 or £110 – just pre-book with Canopy Access Limited via their website: http://canopyaccess.co.uk

Field camps 

Students will be trekking into the forest in northwest Buton as part of a small team of guides, field biologists and volunteers. The core 4 week volunteers (expeditions 3 and 5) will assist with setting up and running of temporary camps, which will include basic washing facilities and toilets, and the camps will have everyone sleeping in hammocks. On this expedition the location will be moved each week, so there will also be some local homestays whilst completing some surveys from nearby villages. On occasion there are also hotel stays, dependent on the location. Students joining this programme must be prepared for last minute changes to locations or plans, as the team are visiting new areas, so often there are interesting findings that require plans to change. Accommodation in most of the camps is in hammocks. There are jungle shower facilities set up at the camps and forest toilets. Large covered areas are used for the meals and all food is prepared by the camp staff. The team have a satellite phone for emergency communications.

 

Marine

Hoga Island 

The small island of Hoga, with beautiful white sand beaches, is where Opwall teams have established a leading marine training and research centre. There is a fully equipped dive centre on the island, a large airy, dining area with bar and a lecture theatre. In addition, there is a well-equipped wet lab where much of the physiological research is completed and a dry lab where the marine ecology teams are based. Paved paths have been laid through the forest of this island where students stay in shared traditionally-built wooden houses each with their own mandi (bathroom) which has a squat toilet and bucket shower. There is electricity in most of the cabins and generator power in the evenings, although there is no internet or computers available on site, 2G signal can be gained on an unlocked smart phone with a local SIM card to access emails etc however this is slow and often unreliable.

Pantai Nirwana, Bau Bau 

This centre is on the beautiful Nirwana beach in a bay south of Bau Bau. Accommodation is in shared rooms with their own bathroom facilities including western style toilets and showers. There is a large eating and meeting area, lab facilities for analysis of the video data, lecture area and a fully equipped dive centre. Internet signal can be gained using an unlocked smart phone and a local SIM card, although this is slow and often unreliable.