The Mars Assisted Reef Recovery System is one of the leading techniques for actively restoring large areas of loose coral rubble and has been adopted by the Indonesian National Parks authority to try and bring degraded reefs across the country back to life. The system relies on 60cm diameter steel re-bar units coated with fibre glass resin and sand and colloquially known as reef stars. The stars are secured in a network over the unconsolidated rubble beds next to areas of healthy reef and coral fragments are attached to this framework, rapidly overgrowing the reef stars to form new healthy reef areas. By the time of the 2020 season, several zones of the reef stars and attached corals will have been in the water for between one and 12 months, providing exciting opportunities for potential dissertation projects focusing on several key themes. One project can assess the survival and growth rates of coral fragments transplanted onto the reef stars, as well as using 3D modelling techniques to look at associated increases in habitat complexity. Students may also compare species abundance and diversity on restored areas and adjacent areas of healthy reef using in-water reef monitoring survey techniques, while another project could focus on the success of the restoration programme’s mid-water coral nurseries as biomass production systems for reef restoration efforts.
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.