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Operation Wallacea - A Trip of A Lifetime

21 juli 2014

Four secondary students in Years 11 have just returned from a trip of a lifetime in the remote region of Sulawesi in Indonesia. Teacher Kris Van Der Mynsbrugge, who led the trip tells us all about it…

Some images from the trip of our four students and some jungle wildlife!

Patricia Buhrer, Hannan Azmir, both in Year 12, and Sean Hughes and Helena Smith in Year 11 took part in the trip facilitated by Operation Wallacea (OpWall), an organisation that runs a series of biological and conservation management research programmes in remote locations across the world.

The students joined different scientists (herpetologists, ornithologists, marine biologists and many more) from Opwall in the field, learned how they work and why it is important to conserve and protect natural habitats.

Students spent one week in the jungle and one on a tropical beach on Buton Island. The jungle trip was a great experience. The students did a 50m square habitat survey, bumped into a 6m long python, washed themselves in the river, slept in hammocks, saw Tarsier-monkeys, lots of butterflies, lizards, leeches and the endemic Cus-Cus.

Back in the village, we stayed with local families with no tap water, just a Mandi to wash ourselves and a hole in the floor. In between joining different scientists on their field research projects the students also received lectures in the village hall – they even had a Bahasa class where students learnt some Indonesian words and phrases. 

After a truly memorable week in the jungle, we left for the Marine project. After a week of mud and very humid conditions we were all looking forward to some beach time.

We stayed in very nice accommodation, had excellent food, pristine waters and a beautiful stretch of picture-perfect tropical beach that we only had to share with 14 other people.

Sean and Helena finished their Open Water diving courses in perfect conditions while Patricia and Hannan started with some fun dives and habitat surveys of the coral reef. Here too there were lectures in between the two dives a day giving a fully filled programme. The students learned about types of fish and reefs, their importance and how to interpret the numbers of their surveys.

I was very proud how the students performed. The lack of modern facilities (no toilets, shower, sleeping in hammocks...) didn't seem to bother them and they were also physically in good condition, which they demonstrated through all the trekking, diving and early mornings!

- Trip Leader, Kris Van Der Mynsbrugge