For the past week, the Indonesian Biodiversity Research Center (IBRC) diving class of 2012 has seen countless fish in shades of pink, blue, yellow, red, and green darting through corals and the overhangs of a shipwreck. They witnessed stunning bioluminescent plankton flash like fireflies in the dark ocean surf. Best yet, they have grown together as one unit, united through scuba diving.

Last week the IBRC program brought the 2012 class up and over a volcano from the bustling city of Sanur to the quiet, ocean-side Balinese dive site of Tulamben. While there, the class participated in an intensive scientific diving course, learning how to use scuba diving as a tool to conduct underwater research. After a rigorous week of training, the team will be ready to apply their new diving skills to the course work that lies ahead in the coming weeks with the IBRC project and their own research endeavors.

One thing is for sure: the dive course served as an excellent vehicle to accelerate the students’ communication, collaboration, and learning processes as a group. The group has succeeded in exercises that required them to rescue their dive buddies in the open ocean, respond to equipment malfunctions, and navigate their way around the ocean floor -- all with 40+ pounds of gear strapped to their backs.

The level of teamwork that was necessary to complete the course was a critical element for the students. “Working as a team was good; collaborating with a different culture in a new place helped us learn new things and helped the group succeed,” stated Rizki Wulandara, an IBRC student from Diponegoro University Semarang in Central Java.

Hard work came with big rewards. With each dive more and more students came up to the surface of the water smiling, gushing about the incredible and beautiful biodiversity living beneath the blue ocean waves. As the students popped out of the water two-by-two, they giddily recounted the “totally awesome” marine life that they caught a glimpse of and their “sweet” diving experience.

“There are lots of tired, happy faces,” Mike reflected on the final night of the course. Those faces are certainly the sign of a successful trip.

 

Editors Note: This blog is part of the Indonesian Biodiversity Research Center program series, “Live from the Field: Bali Indonesia”. Follow along with a team of students and researchers as they participate in a biodiversity education and research program in Bali.