27 Jul The Indonesia Expedition 2018
We did it during the last week of Term 2 and the school holidays….7 STC men and 3 staff went to the wilds of Indonesia for the science expedition.
The trip was to Sulawesi, Indonesia in the Wallacea region, following in the footsteps of Famous Naturalist, Alfred Russel Wallace, the co founder of the theory of Evolution.
The first week of the trip was spent in the forest camp of Northern Buton National park.
After nearly 3 days of travel, we arrived in the camp, wet and tired, and began our expedition for real. We worked with Operation Wallacea scientists and local guides to carry out surveys of the forest focusing upon bats, butterflies and tracking endangered species like the rare anoa, a type of dwarf forest buffalo. The boys also learned survival skills.
The work was exhausting starting at 5.30am for bird surveys, to 10.30pm in the evening on bat surveys and bug hunts. We tracked through near vertical forest trails in 6 inches of mud twice a day for our survey walks.
We learned why its called a “rain forest” as we rarely spent a day dry and worked in 30C heat and 95% humidity. In the evening the boys attended lectures given by the staff and a visiting lecturer from Oxford university in the UK. The boys also bonded with the guides and their families, spending our rare free time swimming in the river and waterfalls with the local kids.
After 6 days in the jungle, we trekked out and boarded a boat for Hoga, our next camp in the Wakatobi marine reserve. This site has world heritage status and is one of the premium dive sites in the world.
Here the boys split into 2 groups. Some chose to learn to dive and the earn their PADI open water certificate. Whilst the rest did a reef ecology course and helped with surveying the reef via snorkel.
The days here were long too, with lectures starting at 7am, 2 dives a day and afternoon and evening lectures and activities. We helped survey the reef and took part in the international coral watch program to assess the extent of coral bleaching and die back in the area. The reef was beautiful but dangerous hiding a variety of lethal creatures and some very curious sea snakes that packed enough poison to kill 15 men.
After a week in Hoga we started our way back to NZ via a long series of boat trips and plane rides.
It was a fantastic trip and the boys gained many once in a lifetime experiences, and contributed to building up the studies of conservation work in the area.
With luck we will return on another expedition in 2020, maybe to Indonesia or maybe some other exotic location. Thanks to all the staff and parents that made this trip possible.
As they say in Indonesia , Termina Kasih.(Thank you)
By Andrew Jones