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Marine Conservation in Thailand
The very best dive schools have teamed up with the local community to develop a marine conservation project to protect the precious coral reefs within the Koh Tao National Park. By becoming a volunteer you can play an integral part in this program.
Do you want to be part of the bigger picture? Are you a keen diver or would like to learn?
Well, the secret is out about the beauty and splendour of this tiny island and tourists have been flocking in droves. Great for the local economy but not so great for the precious reefs. Global warming aside, with the growth in tourism and visitation rates, the marine national park has suffered greatly.
The very best dive schools have teamed up with the local community to develop a marine conservation project to protect the precious coral reefs within the Koh Tao National Park. By becoming a volunteer you can play an integral part in a program, which to date, boasts success that has seen government environmental agencies use the data gathered to make policy decisions.
Regular monitoring and cleaning on the reefs helps to remove any build-up of potentially damaging debris. Monitoring also helps to identify changes in both the numbers and health of the marine life which allows researchers to identify areas of concern. These issues can then be acted on.
As a volunteer, you can become an active eco-ambassador of responsible diving practices. You’ll have the opportunity to help culture giant clam nurseries, build artificial reefs and carry out regular marine monitoring activities in the clear ocean waters surrounding the island. Spend everyday diving and familiarising yourself with the precious marine life of Thailand.
This project includes SSI Open Water, Advanced and SSI Ecological Diver certification. Prices vary depending on level of existing certification.
Note: The PADI certification is also an option over SSI certification, however, there is a nominal extra fee for the PADI certification – paid on arrival.
Project Activities: Reef monitoring, data collections, identifying species and underwater clean up
Project Availability: Projects start weekly, except from around 15 October – 1 January, when it is closed due to Monsoon season
Program Duration: 2-6 weeks. Internships are also available for keen divers who want to stay longer than 6 weeks. We recommend a 3 or 4-week program.
Working Hours: Monday to Friday, 9am to approx. 4pm
Location: Koh Tao, Thailand
Excursions: There will be plenty of time to make friends and discover surrounding islands (at own expense and outside working hours). Explore beautiful beaches and secluded coves or get out of the water and head into the jungle on the back of a magnificent Asian elephant. Stay overnight with a hill tribe family and fall asleep to the sounds of the wild. Our on-site staff can assist in providing advice and helping to plan activities and excursions.
Support: 24-hour on-site support from our Project Leaders and Site Director
Minimum Age: 18+
The Volunteer's Role
Coral Reefs cover less than .02% of the ocean floor but support 25% of all marine life. They are one of the most biologically diverse ecosystems on earth, but also one of the most threatened. All over the world reefs are in decline, and with them the fate of over 2 million species and the economies that support millions of people.
Have you ever wondered where statistics like these come from, or what can be done to help?
This is the basis of the Marine Conservation Program encompassing both research and restoration.
Research is the only way to get a true idea of what the problems are and what needs to be done to alleviate them. After the problem has been identified, it can be stopped and restoration activities can take place. Our on-the-ground coordinators have years of experience on a wide range of on-going restoration projects and have active projects in many areas around Koh Tao island.
Volunteers will be given an opportunity to learn hands-on about techniques that support local efforts and can be shared with other areas of the world. This program not only certifies participants in the techniques, but prepares you to start your own program or work and volunteer in marine projects around the world.
It is our hope that by giving volunteers the knowledge, training and confidence, they will be learning ways to contribute to the research, protection and restoration of the world’s coral reefs.
The following are some statistics of efforts undertaken by project staff and volunteers during the 2015 Conservation Season:
34,095 Drupella snails collected
398 Conservation Certifications issued
277 Crown of Thorns removed
153 students trained through this project
68 Reef Monitoring Surveys (EMP)
60+ mooring lines installed/maintained
48 artificial reefs deployed
15 sea turles released
14 papers written/published
11 records added to iseahorse.org
Each new day begins by attending a lecture on your course of action for the day ahead. After this you’ll put on your dive gear and get stuck in to your diving duties.
Volunteer activities include:
Research and Monitoring
Coral Nurseries and Artificial Reefs
Coral Spawning and Culturing
Biorock Maintenance and Research
Mooring Line Maintenance
Underwater Clean Ups
Group and School Education Trips
Drupella Snail Studies / Removals
Giant Clam Nursery
And much more…
Required Skills As part of the project your SSI Open Water, Advanced and SSI Ecological Diver certification will be provided. Volunteers that have existing diving certification are eligible for a discounted rate.
For volunteers who are unqualified, a love of water and an interest in sea-life is just as essential as the ability to swim a minimum of 2 x lengths of a 25m pool. You’ll be expected to carry oxygen tanks and equipment during the project, subsequently a moderate level of fitness is essential.
Dubbed an absolute heaven for divers, the marine conservation project is located on the southern bay of Chao Lok on the island of Koh Tao, around 500km south of Bangkok. Tiny Tao is only 21 sq km but boasts 40+ dive schools. With its turquoise waters and abundance of marine life, it’s no wonder divers are drawn to explore the natural underwater playground of Koh Tao.
Although this small village is away from the main tourist area it boasts all the modern conveniences of restaurants, internet cafes and book shops… but without the crowds.
Volunteers stay on the seafront in a delightful guest house. Here you’ll find a restaurant, internet cafe and laundry facilities. For those who want to unwind after a long day there’s also a Thai massage area. If you need assistance to book an excursion to the nearby islands of Koh Phangan or Koh Samui, you’ll also find a travel shop.
Your local resort-style accommodation in Koh Tao is within easy walking distance to the volunteer project location.
You will live in a single or double room with a fan and bathroom (cold water only). If you wish to upgrade to an air-conditioned room (with hot water), please advise upon porgram acceptance as an additional fee applies.
Meals are not included, however there are plenty of options nearby, including the resort’s own restaurant. The resort’s open-plan restaurant overlooks the beach and serves up tasty Thai and Western food from morning to evening.
The accommodation also conveniently offers extras like Thai massages (in a shaded pergola in the garden), travel booking service, laundry, money exchange, internet and 24-hour electricity. Credit cards are accepted for any of your optional extras on arrival.
Additional nights can be arranged prior to your departure and paid for at your own expense on arrival.
Application deadline is 60 days prior to commencement. Projects start weekly, except from around 15 October – 1 January, when it is closed due to Monsoon season. Program fee covers first two weeks; each additional week is $594.
Having the opportunity to actively contribute to the marine environment using modern restoration techniques was fascinating as a marine biology student and an experience that I will never forget. In addition, getting to meet lots of like minded people and making new friends from around the world was an added bonus.