In February, Ecofieldtrips brought 20 Singapore American School students on an experiential and service trip to Flores and Komodo for 8 days where they walked with Komodo dragons and swam with manta rays, did an English language exchange at a local school, became trash heroes and restored ecosystems.
For their dive days, the students spent 2 days and 1 night on a liveaboard boat where they snorkeled and swam daily and also paid a visit to Rinca Island to see the Komodo dragons. They visited 3 famous dive sites, Batu Bolong, Siaba Besar and Manta Point. They had spectacular dives, in particular at Manta Point where they spotted roughly 15 reef mantas. They also saw green and hawksbill sea turtles, napoleon wrasse, bamboo and whitetip reef sharks, and almost 20 species of butterfly fish.
Rinca Island was an incredible demonstration of evolution, island gigantism and dwarfism. Their evening there was spent watching thousands of flying foxes emerge from the mangroves across from an idyllic sunset. They had an incredibly humbling experience staying in the local homes of Tado Village, West Manggarai, where they learnt many traditional skills such as how to fry corn, feed buffalo, do Ikat weaving, make pottery and cook delicious meals from basic ingredients. They immersed in local Tado culture and shared a very special experience with their host families.
As part of their service learning project, the students also learnt how to build their own reef restoration structure to be deployed on Seloka Island and planned a language exchange with SDI Nanga Nae, a local school. SAS students planned a class that combined learning English with immersing in Labuan Bajo local culture. The students played Pictionary where their teammates had to take turns to draw pictures and guess what the pictures represent using newly-learnt English and Bahasa Indonesia vocabularies. SAS students also interacted with Komodo’s Trash Hero volunteers who work tirelessly to educate Komodo’s public about single use plastics. On Seloka Island, students also organised a clean-up of the beach, the mangroves and the coral reefs, planted a mangrove nursery to enhance mangrove coverage around the island and deployed their very own handmade reef restoration structure featuring live coral.
Throughout their stay in Flores and Komodo, the students explored many ecosystems. They hiked through the rainforest to see the Lingko Spiderweb rice fields, which offered a spectacular view that was worth the wet and slippery hike through the forest. They visited a waterfall, encountering two amazing snakes along the way (the mock viper and the red-tail snake), and cooled off in its refreshing waters before journeying back to Labuan Bajo. From these experiences to diving at the coral reefs of Komodo National Park, the program was filled with fun, food and wildlife and was an experience that students and staff alike won't be forgetting any time soon.
Hannah Yaqub - EFT Biologist