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 will 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 most common fish, macroinvertebrate and coral species. If you are already dive trained on arrival then you will complete the Indo Pacific reef survey techniques course in the first week. For the rest of your time you will be helping a series of 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. For an additional cost you can also take your diving qualifications to a higher level than PADI Open Water.
There is a triangle of reefs in Eastern Indonesia that have the highest diversity of hard coral genera, the proxy commonly used to assess overall diversity of coral reefs, anywhere in the world. Both the marine stations being used by the Opwall teams are in the centre of this triangle. The South Buton Marine Centre has established a series of standard monitoring sites on reefs south of Bau Bau and around the surrounding small islands, with the objective being to use the data to develop plans for conserving these reefs. The Hoga Island Marine Station is located in the heart of the Wakatobi Marine National Park. Over the last 20 years, a series of scientists have been based at this site during the Opwall survey seasons and as a result, this is now the most published site in the Coral Triangle. For the last 15 years a series of constant monitoring sites around Hoga and eastern Kaledupa have been monitored for macroinvertebrates, fish communities, coral cover and community structure. The 2020 season will complete this monitoring plus some additional projects.
Most of our volunteers fundraise for their expedition costs. Find out more.
At the marine sites during the day, the weather is normally sunny and warm (around 30 degrees Celsius), and the night temperatures drop to around 20-25 degrees Celsius. Being on the coast means there is often a pleasant breeze so it does not always feel this hot. It rains rarely, but when it does it tends to be very heavy for short periods of time.
Fitness level required
Low-Moderate. Some fitness is required for in water activities, but conditions are relatively easy.
Facilities on Hoga are comfortable, but very basic – the site has shared huts with beds and mattresses and a mandi style bathroom (squat toilet and bucket shower) attached. There is very limited cell phone signal which can usually only be used with an Indonesian SIM card and no Wifi access.