• Overview
  • Objectives
  • Skills you gain
  • Costs to Consider
  • Site Conditions

This expedition is designed for those who want a taster of diving and marine biology research and is based at the South Buton Marine Research and Training Centre. The South Buton Marine Research site is home to some spectacular reefs and white sand beaches, and has a smaller team of researchers working there each summer. This is an ideal place to learn to dive to PADI Open Water level, which you will do in your first week on expedition if you are not already dive trained. For your second week you will 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, or prefer to snorkel, then you start with this course and help out with the marine research teams in your second week. You can complete up to 22 dives on these expeditions and develop your interests in marine biology.

Indonesia - Wallacea Marine Research Objectives

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 research stations being used by the Opwall teams are in the centre of this triangle. The South Buton Marine Training and Research 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 Research 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 14 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 2019 season will complete this monitoring plus some additional research projects.

The South Buton marine research centre opened in 2013 and has established a series of standard monitoring sites on reefs south of Bau Bau and around the adjacent islands. These are being monitored annually and it is hoped to use the data to demonstrate that a number of the reefs in this area are of high conservation value. Preliminary social studies have commenced as of 2017, involving interviewing fishermen and other local stakeholders to gauge areas of high fishing pressure and the preferred catch methods. The next step is then to begin implementing some conservation management strategies involving all of the local stakeholders in the near future. There is also a small team at this site working in collaboration with the Global Fin Print Project, which monitors shark and ray populations through the use of baited remote underwater video systems.

The Hoga Island marine research 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 have built up the publications emanating from the site to a level which is unsurpassed by any other marine research site in the Coral Triangle. These data and publications have been used to promote the biodiversity value of the Wakatobi, raise its profile internationally and in particular enable it to be designated as a Biosphere Reserve. For the last 12 years a series of constant monitoring sites around Hoga and eastern Kaledupa have been monitored for fish communities, coral cover and community structure and macro-invertebrates. In addition annual fisheries monitoring is being completed to assess changes in the fisheries particularly as some of the management initiatives developed by Opwall (e.g. buy outs of fishing licences and carrageenan extraction) begin to hopefully have an impact. Alongside these long-term monitoring projects there are also newer projects such as a coral restoration program and seagrass monitoring to provide a wide range of opportunities to all.

  • Gain an internationally recognized SCUBA qualification
  • Option to undertake additional PADI dive qualifications above Open Water (additional cost)
  • Diving and snorkelling within some of the most diverse reefs in the world
  • Working alongside specialist marine scientists
  • Attend evening lectures given by the science team on marine ecology
  • Participation in the Reef Survey Techniques course
  • Learn a variety of survey and monitoring techniques for in-water data collection
  • Opwall fee
  • Cost of international flights into and out of Makassar
  • Cost of internal travel to and from the start and end point of the expedition, plus any hotels you might require. This costs around £220 or $300 on average. Extra nights’ accommodation in Makassar costs around £25 or $36.
  • Visa costs of $35 for a VOA (31-60 days, with extension), £50 for a social visa (60+ days, with extension) plus £45(VOA) or £60 (Social Visa) for the extension. Please get in touch with someone from Opwall for more detailed advice.
  • Dive equipment rental – £60 or $90 per week for a full dive kit. If you only wish to snorkel and want to hire snorkel equipment, the cost is £30 or $45 per week. Please note that wetsuits cannot be provided – you should bring your own.
  • Park entrance fees – £20 or $29 for the terrestrial site, and £20 or $29 for the marine site
  • PADI manual and PIC card (if you are completing your Open Water qualification) – £69 or $87 approx.
  • Vaccinations and prophylactic medicines – cost can vary depending on your healthcare provider.
  • Spending money for snacks/drinks/laundry – Indonesian rupiah only
  • All prices in GBP or USD unless specified

Climate

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.

Creature comforts

Facilities at Pantai Nirwana are very comfortable; shared dorm rooms have beds with a mattress, stand-up showers, and Western style toilets. There is very limited cell phone signal which can usually only be used with an Indonesian SIM card and no Wifi access.

Locations

  • Indonesia
  • Pantai Nirwana (Bau Bau)

Want to get involved with this project?

Preparation

Want to get involved with this project?

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