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 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. You will then complete an Indo-Pacific reef survey techniques course which 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 will complete 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 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. 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.
The Hoga Island Marine Station is an established facility that lies within the Wakatobi Marine Park of eastern Indonesia. The station was rebuilt in 2016 and supports a dive centre, lecture theatre, wet-lab as well as a large dining room and kitchen facility. Simple huts owned by members of the local fishing community surround the station and serve as guest accommodation. The island supports reliable phone signal that allows limited internet access.