These expeditions are designed for those who want a taster of diving and marine biology and the survey techniques used to quantify different coral reef taxa. There are two marine centres operated by Opwall: South Buton and Hoga Island. South Buton is a small friendly site on Buton Island and has the advantage of less travel being required to get there. The site lies outside the Marine National Park and the information being gathered is being used for an application to extend the park. The Hoga Island marine centre is much bigger and is surrounded by white sand beaches. There are much larger teams of marine scientists based at this site which is in the heart of the Wakatobi Marine National Park and it hosts up to 120 marine biology specialists and students a week each summer. Expedition 2 is based for the first week on the South Buton Island marine centre and the second week is based on Hoga Island. These are ideal places 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 or would prefer to snorkel when you arrive then you start with this course and assist with the marine surveys in your second week. You can complete up to 22 dives on these expeditions and develop your interests in marine biology. 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 at Pantai Nirwana are very comfortable; shared dorm rooms have beds with a mattress, stand-up showers, and Western style toilets.
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.