Coral Sea Foundation and Sea Women of Melanesia expeditions into the marine environment must be planned carefully, so that there is a clear understanding of the objectives of the trip, the gear and personnel needed, the risks involved, and the financial costs to the Foundation. These guidelines should be used to create an expedition plan before each trip and then submitted to the CSF Directors for checking, review, approval, and funds transfer.
This is where you set out the overall objectives of the expedition
This is where you set out exactly which locations you will visit on the expedition, ideally with place names and GPS coordinates derived from Google Earth or the GPS unit (if you have been there before and have a marker), and tell us how you will get there.
Big Fish Reef LMMA near Coconut Point on Jungle Island. GPS 9° 28.015'S 150° 59.586'E
Access via Longboat from Buai Town.
Access via longboat from Bigpla Town then walk on bush track to Village.
In this section you should list the Clan names, Clan leaders and their contact information, and describe the nature of the permission obtained (verbal, phone call, written, digital) to visit the area. Permission should be obtained for every visit, and community leaders should be advised and encouraged to be present for the SWoM / CSF visit so they can clearly understand the reasons for the visit and can ask any questions. You should also have permission from the LLG Ward Member and any other relevant government departments to visit the area.
This is where you set out the people that will be involved in the expedition. This might be the SWoM team, friends and family members for support and safety, dinghy operators, and Landowners.
Martha Eimba SwoM team leader
Daisy Parascos SwoM team member
Waiyaki Nemani Landowner
Cousin bro 1 helper / security
Cousin bro 2 dinghy operator
This is where you provide the details of exactly what you will do on the expedition, and how long it will take.
This is where you explain the likely conditions you will encounter on the expedition. All marine operations can potentially be affected by weather, so it is particularly important to incorporate these checks into your planning. You can consult with the CSF Directors to get an up-to-date weather forecast, plus you can check it yourself on the internet at www.windy.com
Winds expected to be 5-10 knots at Big Fish Reef, sea conditions slight, current slight to moderate, tide incoming during surveys and high water at 1130, possible light rain showers in the area.
This is where you make a checklist of the items that you will need to complete the expedition. Checklists are very important, especially for expeditions to remote areas – if you forget something essential, you cannot go back at get it!
A good habit is to make the list, check the items off, and then double-check it. If it is an important expedition, then even triple check! Also think about having spares of items that are critical to the success of the expedition or your safety.
Here are some items you may need for a CSF / SWoM expedition:
For trips by dinghy, if possible, the vessel should have:
* Note – we understand all these items may not be present on a Melanesian dinghy, but we see this as an education exercise so we want you to know what should be present.
In this section you calculate and summarise the expected expenses and budget for the expedition. Items can usually be grouped into the following categories:
Gear and consumables
Wages & payments
First, estimate the likely distance travelled during the expedition, in nautical miles or kilometres. This can be done easily using the Google Earth app on a computer or your phone, and the CSF Directors can assist.
Second, once you know the distance, calculate the expected fuel use. A 40hp outboard on a 21 or 23ft dinghy with 4-5 people onboard uses about one litre of fuel per nautical mile travelled. (A nautical mile is 1.85km).
So, for example, if you needed to go 6 nautical miles to Big Fish Reef LMMA and then come 6 miles back, plus do some driving to three sites while at the reef, your fuel calculation would be:
Base to reef: 6nm
Reef to base: 6nm
Site Ops: 2nm
Fuel used: 14 Litre
Safety (20%) 2.8 Litre
TOTAL 16.8 Litre
*Note a red fuel tank is 25 Litres. Make sure you understand your local fuel costs – PNG is typically about K5 per Litre, Solomons about S$10 per Litre. So, the example above would be K84 or S$168.
*If the dinghy has a 60hp outboard, then it will use about 25% more fuel, so you can do your calculations based on 1 litre per nautical mile and then multiply the final fuel amount by 1.25.
All operations in the marine environment come with associated risks of injury or death to participants. An important part of expedition planning is the listing and assessment of these risks, and then careful thinking about how the risks can be managed. For every expedition you should know, check, and list the nearest first aid clinic and hospital to your proposed expedition site in your Expedition Plan.
In assessing risk, think about these two things:
A risk-assessment matrix (below) is therefore a helpful way to think about and manage expedition risks. Think very carefully about any hazards that fall into the High or Very High category!
Some typical risks associated with marine expeditions in Melanesia, and actions to reduce risk, are as follows:
Dinghy engine failure: have spare spark plugs, tools, methylated spirits, paddles, and communication device (radio or phone)
Bad Weather: check forecast before departure. Abort trip if weather turns bad en-route.
Currents at site: check before entry. Make sure dinghy operator knows “pickup” and “help” hand signals and pickup point.
Reef cuts and scratches: cover up the body, use proper dive technique, apply first aid immediately
Animal stings and bites: be aware of contact with the reef. Check local advice for crocodiles in the area, don’t dive late afternoon. Leave the water if sharks are present and acting aggressively.
Infectious Diseases: Use mosquito repellent, mosquito nets and long clothing in malarial areas. Observe covid-19 social distancing and personal hygiene protocols.
Sunburn & dehydration: keep fluid intake up, wear a hat and shirt to prevent sunburn
In water distress: do not snorkel if tired, weak or sick. Snorkel and dive in a buddy pair.
Raskols / Sea Pirates: check local advice on raskol areas. Don’t tell unnecessary people where you are going. Travel early if possible, or use GPS to travel at night if need be and the operator is skilled in navigation.
Google Earth on the internet (has a measure function): https://earth.google.com/web/
Windy weather forecasting: www.windy.com
Survey manuals and Field guides: