Stories from the Field
Coconut Tree Climbing, Campfires and Canyoning at Green Camp
July 15, 2016
As soon as we arrived at Green Camp, we jumped straight into amazing things, like making traditional Balinese offerings, climbing a coconut tree, and relaxing around a cozy campfire with guitars, drums, and lots of singing all around!
The next day started with a workshop with our new friend Clara who taught us all about meditation, chakras, and communication with animals! We took a tour of the Green School, learned how to compost, and planted tomatoes. Then we ventured out in the rain to trek through the rice paddies and stuck our feet in the mud to plant rice.
And yes, it gets better! We were surprised with an opportunity to go to a Bollywood dance workshop where we all danced for hours, cooled off with some fresh juices and milkshakes in an adorable cafe, and saw the city of Ubud at night!
The following day, we went into the town of Ubud to walk around the local market, pick up some gifts and treats, and work on a photography scavenger hunt. After finding many cute dogs, outrageous hippies, and sustainable souvenirs, we headed back into Green Camp to learn about a traditional Balinese martial arts dance, and then put our new skills to use in the Green Camp mud pit!
We ended the day with a night safari in which we saw spiders, a vine snake, and many other nocturnal creatures. On our last morning, we had an early wake up call and headed north to go canyoning at the GitGit waterfall. We spent the majority of our day climbing through the canyon and rappelling through waterfalls. When we returned we got to experience a workshop on traditional Balinese drumming techniques and learned a few songs. The night ended with some work on finishing up our On Assignment projects and tomorrow we head to Medewi for surfing!
Post by students Eloise & Ansley.
Ocean Adventure in Pemuteran
July 11, 2016
Our group just arrived in Ubud, but the past few days in Pemuteran were unforgettable!
Upon arriving in Pemuteran, we met our Nat Geo expert, Tierney Thys! On our first full day, we went out into the bay to snorkel and dive near BioRock structures that local conservationists have installed to help support new coral growth. After our excursion we learned how to weld our own BioRock structure and crafted our names out of metal wire to attach onto the structure. That evening we learned about biological phyla during our first presentation from Tierney. Boy did we learn a lot!
We spent our second day at Menjangan Island, one of the most biodiverse marine habitats in the world. In between diving and snorkeling we enjoyed jumping off the boat into the clear blue water. As if the day couldn’t improve, we were invited to a Balinese wedding that evening and were able to see traditional Kris dancing.
The next morning we went for a snorkel and dive at Close Encounters where we saw sea turtles swimming in the wild. Fittingly, our next stop was a visit to a turtle hatchery, where we were able to meet and chat with the founder and learn about how he was able to introduce a sustainable program to save the area’s turtles from egg poaching. That afternoon we held a beach clean-up, worked on our On Assignment projects, and learned about the Mola fish, which Tierney has been researching for the past ten years. The evening capped off a perfect day with a night snorkel where we were able to see bioluminescence and gaze at the stars while floating in the calm ocean.
Our last full day, we began our morning by releasing one of the rescued turtles back into the ocean! We named her Virginia. We then met up with Reef Check, an international organization dedicated to collecting data and monitoring coral reefs worldwide. Sadly we learned that Bali and the world’s other major reef systems are suffering terribly from coral bleaching and human impact.
Our last night in Pemuteran, we experienced the most memorable event: a traditional dance performance and concert put on by local dancers and musicians from the local orphanage!
By students Ben and Dylan.
The Challenges of Being a Coral
June 30, 2016
We’ve arrived in Pemuteran and on our first day enjoyed a beautiful sunset!
One thing we’ve learned since arriving in Pemuteran is that it’s pretty hard to be a coral nowadays. In recent years, there has been a lot of damage to the reef in Pemuteran because of unsustainable fishing and invasions of crown-of-thorns starfish and sea snails. On our dive and snorkel, we saw the effects of global warming and an El Niño year—lots of coral bleaching. Interestingly, certain corals, or even parts of corals, are more susceptible than others.
Coral bleaching occurs when waters are warmer than usual. Coral is in a symbiotic relationship with a photosynthetic algae, Zooxanthellae, which gives coral its color and provides it with food. In turn, the algae is given protection by living inside the coral. When the coral is stressed, it expels the algae and if the water continues to be warm the coral will eventually starve to death. Luckily, these factors are being combated with a conservation effort called Biorock, which began in 2000. Biorock provides coral nurseries for the reef, which consist of metal structures attached to 12 volt cables. This creates a chemical reaction that causes mineral structures to settle on the metal, and creates a base for coral. Baby corals are then attached to the structure. We had the opportunity to see the structures on our dive and snorkel, and the biodiversity of all the colorful corals.
Biorock has an “adopt a coral” program which encourages people to donate money and sponsor a baby coral, which they then get to see grow and become part of a bigger reef structure on the Biorock. We are planning on adopting corals, and placing a biorock structure later in the week, so today we shaped our names out of metal so we can later identify our corals.
By students Elizabeth and Maddy.
Sam Plans a Gap Year Following his Bali Expedition
April 11, 2016
What drew you to that particular NGSE trip?
I was drawn to the Bali expedition because I have always been interested in marine biology and marine conservation. The ocean is essential to our existence and its crucial that we understand the issues that are compromising the health of the sea.
Protecting Coral Reefs and Sea Turtles in Bali
July 8, 2015
We’ve had a couple of very special days here in Pemuteran. During a full day of diving and snorkeling, we visited the BioRock Reef Project. While exploring the developing reefs, the divers had a rare sighting of a sea turtle and the snorkelers saw a squid!