The reefs of the Wakatobi have been monitored by Operation Wallacea teams since 2002 and in recent years by teams from the Hasanuddin University in Makassar. These datasets provide an increasingly valuable resource to monitor how reefs in the heart of the coral triangle are changing. Initial observations suggest that the abundance of reef building corals has declined but other functional benthic taxa, such as soft corals, have increased. As well as an overall decrease in reef building corals, the types of corals present, both in terms of species and colony structure have also changed. Where once reefs in the region harboured a mix of different colony growth forms (including branching, table and foliose corals) the system today is dominated by massive (boulder-like) and encrusting corals. The physical form of the reef is therefore changing which has implications for resident and transient fish communities. During 2020 the Hasanuddin University researchers will be repeating the reef monitoring programme on the reefs around Hoga island, data from which can be compared to previous years to determine rates of change in key coral and reef fish community characteristics. The data consist of replicate 50m long transects at multiple depths over a series of reef sites. Benthic community structure is assessed using point intercept technique, more recently via underwater videography. Fish community structure was initially assessed using underwater visual census (UVC), but since 2013 has used state-of-the-art stereo-video surveys which allow accurate biomass measurements to be estimated. Students involved in this project will be assisting with the Hasanuddin led surveys but will have access to the larger datasets so that changes over time can be quantified.
If you would like to do a dissertation or thesis with us but your university hasn’t started dissertation planning or the project selection process, that’s no problem. You can cancel your expedition with zero cancellation charges up until the 15th of April of if you provide documentation from your university saying that they won’t support completing a dissertation project with us.
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.
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.