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Seaweed farming lesson one - case study
Seaweed farming lesson two - Data analysis
Seaweed farming lesson three - Practical task
Seaweed farming follow up

'From the Field' Awards

Inspiring fieldwork supported by the RGS-IBG

In collaboration with:

The Goldsmiths' Company

Hugging the Coast: An exploration by sea kayak of liminal (marginal) living and rural development in North Sulawesi, Indonesia

Key words

  • Development
  • Exploration
  • Archipelago
  • Quality of life
  • Liminal zones
  • Standard of living
  • Resource consumption
  • Rural development
  • Bias


Between July and September 2012 an international team of six women traversed the length of the Sangihe Archipelago in by sea-kayak. They observed, documented and engaged with life in the archipelago’s ‘liminal zones’, with a special focus on seaweed farming.

This area is known as the Coral Triangle. It is the Amazon of the seas, because of the high levels of biodiversity. It is a tectonically active area and the team experienced numerous minor earthquakes and spent time on a number of volcanic islands.

The initiative to introduce seaweed farming is trying to address a crisis of food security and climate change. The Government has limited rice imports as they want to become self-sufficient; this has led to food shortages. So seaweed farming is a poverty alleviation strategy:  seaweed can be harvested four times a year, increasing production levels. The seaweed also scrubs the sea and removes carbon, so helping with climate change.


The Sangihe Archipelago is located off of the northern coast of Sulawesi, one of the Central Indonesian islands. The northern tip of the archipelago lies approximately 160km south of the Philippines. The archipelago stretches 320 km from Manado to Sangihe in the Celebes Sea.


  • To investigate quality of life issues of the people living in the liminal zones
  • To focus on the role of seaweed farming in the local community, and particularly the role of females in seaweed farming
  • To investigate how expedition techniques (such as arriving in the remote communities by kayak) can influence research methods and outcomes

Lesson one

Lesson one »

Lesson two
Lesson two »

Lesson three
Lesson three »

Follow up
Follow up »

The researchers

The 'Hugging the Coast' team was led by Dr Duika Burges Watson, FRGS, a Lecturer in Evaluation and Policy Interventions within the Centre for Public Policy and Health, Durham University, and Dr Johanna Wadsley, FRGS, a Research Associate in the School of Geography, Queen Mary, University of London. The social scientists were supported by Lena Conlan, a professional wilderness educator, expedition leader and teacher-practitioner of wilderness medicine, and sea kayak guide, film-maker and arctic expeditioner, Vonna Keller.  Research assistants Arny Caroles and Jacqline Laikun, undergraduate students in the Faculty of Fisheries and Marine Science at Sam Ratulangi University, Manado, completed the six-strong all-female team


Research techniques

  • Semi-structured and in-depth interviews
  • Audio-recordings
  • Video and digital photography

Key topics and themes

This research project is extremely relevant to all the main GCSE syllabuses, linking to development, change in rural areas, and climate change

Key questions

  • What is the quality of life for people living in the liminal zone of the Sangihe archipelago, Indonesia?
  • Is sustainable development currently possible in the case study area?
  • How can interviews and photography (still and video) best be used during fieldwork?

Documents to download

About the author

Phil AveryPhil Avery is a Fellow of the Royal Geographical Society (with IBG) and an Associate Headteacher at Bohunt School in Hampshire. He is a Geography graduate from Oxford University who has a passion for inspiring the next generation about incredible places, adventure and learning. As well as participating on geographical expeditions to Antarctica, Iceland and Belarus, he has also led student expeditions to Borneo and Greenland. Closer to home he promotes Challenge Based Learning, the use of new technologies and Outdoor Education.

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