• Cuba

Program Details

Sep 06, 2017
Dec 14, 2016
1 traveler is looking at this program

About Program

Operation Wallacea is a research and environmental organisation, working alongside university and college academics to build long term datasets to put towards various conservation management goals. We recruit volunteers to help out with the data collection, and train them in the skills and background that's needed to help effectively.

The Cuba project is a marine expedition based on the Isle of Youth, focusing on reef surveys and manatee populations alongside the marine research unit at the university of Havana. You can spend your first week learning to dive, followed by a reef ecology course, in addition to assisting in the various surveys. Accommodation is mixed, with some of the project being based out of a local hotel and other parts based on the University of Havanas research ship, the Felipe Poey.

This program is currently not being promoted on Go Overseas by its provider. Check with Operation Wallacea for the most up-to-date information regarding the status of this program.

Program Reviews

4.67 Rating
based on 3 reviews
  • 5 rating 66.67%
  • 4 rating 33.33%
  • 3 rating 0%
  • 2 rating 0%
  • 1 rating 0%
  • Impact 4.7
  • Support 4.7
  • Fun 3.35
  • Value 5
  • Safety 4.35
Showing 1 - 3 of 3 reviews
Default avatar
Yes, I recommend this program

3 Cuban projects, one week to do them

Firstly, I really enjoyed the first week of the expedition where we learned to dive. Being out on the water and having the beauty of shallow, crystal clear water, all around you with little islands in the distance made me feel like I was on vacation.
The only thing that upset me was losing two days of diving because of weather and boat malfunctions, ALTHOUGH at the same time I was grateful for that becasue it gave me time to explore Havan which I otherwise wouldn't have been able to do.

But in terms of the research I was a bit disappointed becasue altough there were 3 projects going on I didn't feel like I was getting the true research experience. It was just data collection. We didn't get to analyze anything or see past data that the professors were working on. It was very limited and becasue of that there was a lot of free time. With that free time it was difficult finding interesting thingsto do near the end of the expedition.

But I did learn how to collect data and what it takes to be a researcher, which is a lot of patience since most of the tasks you will be doing are repeats of the previous day. I also learned a lot about the marine life in Cuba and it has come up a lot in some of the lectures I took this year so I am satisfied with the outcome.

The social experience was wonderful. From what I know there wasn't any major drama that happened and I definitiely can say I made new international friends which thankfully, I still keep in touch with.

What would you improve about this program?
Efficiency, more warning of having a lot of free time, engaging students to do more work that is related to "after data collection", assess the circumstance of the country/place of research before so any necessary adjustments can be made before the volunteers arrive.
19 people found this review helpful.
Yes, I recommend this program

spontaneous night time exploration

Going on a trip with Opwall, in my case the research assistant trip to Cuba, was truly an amazing experience. Besides all the cool stuff I expected like exploring a new country, learning to dive, seeing amazing things, doing research, and meeting new people, I was also able to learn things my way (getting insanely curious about something and asking questions until I have answers), and be hands on, not the classical methods used in schools. . My favourite example was aboard the Filipe Poey, the university of Havana's research ship. It was about 10:30 pm and I had just finished brushing my teeth, about to go to bed, when I heard splashing in the water. Looking overboard to find the source, I noticed a small snake-like critter swimming. As there are no sea snakes in Cuba I was very confused so I asked two of the staff members. They didnt know either so we got a bucket and spotlight, and caught the little guy to identify it (it was a baby eel)! We, along with another student, then set about trying to catch the fish that were jumping and splashing everywhere and identify them (they were halfbeaks, a huge challenge to catch with a bucket). We also caught more baby eels and a tiny little crab, maybe 1 mm in diameter that was floating among the zooplankton. It was so rewarding because not only was my insatiable curiosity fulfilled, I really learned something. Working with knowledgeable people who are equally as passionate as me is an incredible feeling, something I will never forget. It was a fantastic night!

What would you improve about this program?
My only issues were with internal travel in Cuba. There were a lot of stressful moments and glitches but I also realise this is something Opwall has little control over. Cuba has its own characters when trying to travel and things don't necessarily work out as planned. These hiccups (being seperated from the group and having to take my own cab when we could have all shared, bus breaking down, ship almost breaking down) allowed me to grow as a person and my confidence as a solo traveler increased. I also made friends with a local who helped me along the way and I am still in contact with him. Looking back I am greatful for all of the experience but it definitely could have been smoother.
14 people found this review helpful.
Yes, I recommend this program

Opwall Cuba 2015 - One of the best months of my life

Unbelievable experience that I'm thoroughly relieved I followed through on pursuing. It can seem like a lot of money and possibly daunting before you get there but I have made some fantastic friends and learnt things about myself on the trip.
I am interested in scientific research, and got insights into how fieldwork could operate for a zoological/ecological project.
It was fantastic to get more scuba diving experience in a place that has a lot to offer in terms of marine life to see.

What would you improve about this program?
For the cost, could be beneficial to have some kind of textbook/guide with fish/coral species on as something to take away from the trip.
20 people found this review helpful.

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