The problem of plastic pollution even in remote parts of the globe has recently received huge media attention and this is borne out even in the remote Wakatobi National Park. The rates of macro plastic (>5mm) accretion on a series of coral reef sites on Hoga and Kaledupa Islands could be quantified by cleaning study areas using SCUBA diving and then measuring accretion rates over time. If a good representation of the range of reef types and environmental conditions seen around the park can be surveyed, the total annual tonnage of macro-plastic waste reaching the Wakatobi National Park via the ocean could be quantified. A second, non-diving project could look at the total weight of plastic waste found along the shoreline. Again, a series of sites representing the variety found in the park could be sampled to give a total weight of plastic waste per unit length of coastline, allowing the total found throughout the Wakatobi to be estimated. This study could also identify the industries responsible for the plastic waste, and in some cases even its geographic origin. A third project could look at microplastics (<5mm) in the ocean and sediment by filtering water and sieving sediment samples. This project is particularly suitable for geography students.
*Does not require data to be collected by diving, although you could still dive in your spare time.
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.