Volunteering Around The World
Volunteer projects can be a fun way to spend your holiday, learn valuable skills and provide an opportunity to individuals and groups to contribute to ongoing conservations efforts. Here's a list of projects that welcome certified divers and people interested in marine conservation
COnduct underwater REEF surveys
Location: Yucatan, Mexico
This conservation course in Mexico is an opportunity to explore and help to conserve the Mesoamerican Barrier Reef, the second largest barrier reef in the world. It is run by GVI (Global Vision International) in cooperation with the Amigo de Sian Ka'an, a Mexican NGO known for its marine conservation efforts. Work will include documenting the health of the reef, monitoring and identifying wildlife and will equip you with professional survey techniques and underwater data collection skills. The course is predominantly certified divers (PADI Open Water or equivalent), surveys will be carried out during daily dives and snorkel trips in this incredible environment.
Educate local communities
Location: Beqa, Fiji
Home to more than a thousand species of tropical fish, twelve species of whales and intricate soft corals, Fiji is an environment worth looking after. The aim of the Frontier-Fiji reef conservation project is to develop knowledge of the ecosytem on the island of Beqa and to educate local communities of their intrisic importance. Data is collected on dives in the extensive coral reefs, rich sea-grass beds and tranquil mangrove forests. Divers will carry out underwater assessments of algal and coral cover, extent of coral bleaching as well as a range of behaviour and feeding observations. You can expect to see manta rays, feathery starfish, spiny urchins, octopus, flying fish and even the odd humpback whale. The data collected contributes to the work of the University of the South Pacific.
HELP LOCALS TO MANAGE MARINE RESOURCES
Location: Andavadoaka, Madagascar
Join a surveying team in the remote fishing village of Andavadoaka, on the south coast of Madagascar in a project to conserve this beautiful Indian Ocean reefs. On this Blue Ventures volunteer programme work will include a range of conservation activities from sea cucumber farming to reef surveying and educating children. All volunteers embark on an intensive two-week science training programme to improve their species identification and data collection skills. All volunteers must be trained to at least PADI Advanced Open Water or equivalent. Extra training is provided to those who are not qualified.
Plant Mangrove Forests
Location: Romblon, Philippines
Mangrove forests are vital for marine life, they provide shelter and nutrients for hundreds of species and make perfect fish nurseries. Unfortunately, as much as fifty per cent of the world's mangrove plantations have been deforested due to development. In the Phillipines, fish numbers have severely declined as a result. Project Mangrove is land-based volunteer opportunity helping to reforest the mangrove forests of Romblon in the Phillipines, a network of islands with virgin reefs and abundant wildlife. It is a research and planting project for the hands-on volunteer which includes planting mangrove seedings along the island coast and teaching planned conservation lessons to local elementary and high-school children.
PATROL SEA TURTLE NESTING BEACHES
Location: Jalova, Costa Rica
This land-based volunteer opportunity run by GVI takes you to the turqouise beaches of Costa Rica where you will work with conservationists to protect green, hawksbill and leatherback turtle nests and hatchlings. Work will include day and night-time patrols of the beaches, counting eggs, looking for previous tags and distinctive markings and recording the amount of succesful hatchlings to those poached. The nesting species varies with the season with Hawksbills (October through March), Leatherbacks (April through November) and Green sea turtles (June through November) all arriving at different times of the year. With any luck, you will have the chance to record the hatchlings emerging from the nest and shuffling to the sea!
STUDY THE BEHAVIOUR OF GREAT WHITE SHARKS
Location: Cape town, South Africa
Help save great white sharks from extinction in the ‘great white shark capital of the world'. This is an exciting project run by Oyster Worldwide which will bring you near to Cape fur seals, dolphins, African penguins, whales and great white sharks. The work will include daily excursions on shark watching trips, working alongside tour operators to record data monitor the shark behaviour. You will help them operate equipment, prepare the shark dive cages and take pictures of the sharks' behaviour. You will be able to get in the cage and swim with the sharks yourself. Volunteers are encouraged to get involved in the community with beach clean-ups, painting penguin houses and lending a hand to local education programmes.
IDENTIFY MANTA RAYS
Location: Lady Elliot Island, Australia
Help develop knowledge about the world's largest ray species. The easily identified shape and global distribution of the manta rays make them excellent biological indicators of the effects the environmental change has on our oceans and reefs. Correlating manta ray data can help scientists understand global oceanic health. To collect data, you will dive and swim underneath the manta rays to take photos of their underbellies, identify individuals by their spot patterns and take photos to monitor behaviour. You will also take water and plankton samples and measure the currents, water conductivity, temperature and depth. If you find a new and unidentified individual, you may have the opportunity to name your own manta ray! The data contributes to an ongoing project with the University of Queensland.