After completing your 4hrs of labour for the station each day there is a number of opportunities available for station volunteers to participate in on and around Orpheus Island. Volunteers must comply with OIRS safety regulations for all activities and participation in any activity is at the approval of OIRS management and can be suspended at any stage due to safety considerations.
Volunteers are able to snorkel during their free time provided they abide by JCU diving and boating regulations. All snorkelers must snorkel in buddy pairs and have completed a Recreational Snorkeling and Free Diving Indemnity Form prior to or upon arrival at OIRS. Weights and weight belts are provided free of charge. Volunteers should bring all other snorkeling gear they require.
Legislative constraints mean that volunteers are unable to participate in diving activities or drive any of the OIRS boats, with the exception of James Cook University students who are on the JCU dive register (normal JCU dive activities rules and regulations apply), who have approval prior to being accepted as a station volunteer from the JCU boating and diving officer and OIRS management.
The Palm Island Group has a large variety of reef ecology to explore by snorkel. The Research Station is situated adjacent to a fringing reef so diving from the beach is possible. Pioneer Bay has several varied and interesting reef areas to explore in addition to the mangrove area and the giant clam gardens. Depending on operational and resource demands at the time of your visit it may be possible to arrange expeditions via OIRS vessels manned by OIRS staff to other locations in the area such as Yanks Jetty, Little Pioneer Bay or Curacao Island.
Please note: OIRS is unable to supply any equipment for snorkeling and also mandates the wearing of stinger suits or wetsuits from 1 October through to 31 March due to stingers.
Whether you are after some R n R or something more active to do, you’ll find a number of activities available. If you are after something relaxing you’ll find a TV, video and a selection of movies, plus books, music plus a limited selection of board games in the communal recreation area or just kick back in the hammock and watch the tide roll in. If you’re after something more energetic then there is beach volleyball, beach cricket, and table tennis.
Additionally there is several hiking trails available to explore. These hiking trails are for experienced hikers only as they are unformed, lightly marked and rugged in nature. If you are intending to do any of these hikes you need to bring sturdy hiking shoes, seek OIRS approval prior to departure and notify OIRS upon return plus take the OIRS hiking safety bag. For those less adventurous in nature there is the opportunity to explore the tidal reef flat on foot and visit the giant clam gardens which are exposed during low tide (less than 0.8m) or to explore the walk out to the point at Pioneer Bay.
OIRS does not have any arrangement in place that allows station volunteers to assist researchers whilst on station. However OIRS do have some long term research activities underway in which you may be able to assist in from time to time such as conducting bleach watch surveys, water sampling and assisting in establishing the OIRS Flora and Fauna register. These activities are generally conducted during volunteer’s recreational hours.
If you are seeking to assist in research activities you will need to make your own private arrangements with researchers and these activities must be kept separate to station volunteer visits. Generally you will need to have a minimum of a Qld boat license, first aid, oxygen provider’s certificate and be on the JCU dive register and you will need to arrange to be included on the researcher’s field trip plan.
Volunteers are not able to conduct any of their own research whilst at OIRS as a Station Volunteer. Any research activities MUST be conducted under a separate research project booking and be conducted on days not involved in the OIRS Station Volunteer Program.