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Operation Wallacea - Volunteering Summer 2019

  • 23 August 2019

Volunteering for Operation Wallacea in Croatia Summer 2019

WITS student member Orla McGowan volunteered for Operation Wallacea this summer.

Orla writes:

I started out my expedition journey when I arrived in Split airport where I was greeted by a member of Operation Wallacea who brought me to the rest of the group. We then took a 40 minute coach to Krka National Park. We spent just over a week here carrying out various habitat and conservation surveys including things like tracking tortoise by testing out several methods to see which would work best.

In this photo, we used fluorescent powder to mark this tortoise in the hope that we would be able to track him in the future and observe his movements.

When we checked up on the tortoise the next day, the method had proved quite successful and we could see which areas the tortoise preferred to live in and how far they tend to move in a given 24 hours.

Other surveys we carried out included working with species like bats, birds, fish, butterflies and various mammals! We also got an amazing opportunity to visit local caves and explore the species found within the caves, below I’ve added photos of a few activities.

We then moved on to Silba Island where we spent the next while learning to Scuba dive and by the end we were qualified open water scuba divers. We worked with a team of scientists to help collect marine based data, in this photo we are identifying various aquatic life forms almost all of which I’d never seen in real life before!

We attended a lecture every day to help us further understand the nature and importance of our work.

The time I spent in both Krka and Silba really opened my eyes up to the world around me and made me so much more appreciative of the work both Operation Wallacea and volunteers do in general to help our planet.

Of course, aside from all the research and conservation that was taking place, I met the most amazing group of people, immersed myself in Croatian cultural and spent time exploring its beautiful landscapes as well as making some of the best friends along the way! I’ll never forget my time with Opwall and I loved every minute of it.

Operation Wallacea (Opwall) is a conservation research organisation that is funded by, and relies on, teams of student volunteers who join expeditions for the opportunity to work on real-world research programmes alongside academic researchers. You can also find out more at the Opwall Blog .