Diving and marine conservation in Thailand

Help conserve the world’s depleting coral reefs diving off a stunning Thai island. Most of the world’s coral reefs are under threat – and, without them, fish would eventually cease to exist. Play an active part in the efforts being made to halt this shocking decline, whilst living as part of a Thai community on a beautiful stretch of island coastline.

Doing up to three dives a day, this is a perfect way to combine a passion for diving and conservation.

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Enjoy daily dives and research to promote fish survival

Experience life under the sea every day, diving deep under the water surrounded by shoals of brightly coloured fish and vibrant coral. As you explore this other world, you’ll be helping to promote the survival of coral reefs and the many fish that need them to survive.

You’ll be working with a unique marine research organisation performing daily dives to help understand the local ecosystem and develop and implement methods in reef conservation. See for yourself how reefs degrade from physical damage, overfishing, climate change and contamination – and find out from the experts about the work they are doing to reverse this. You’ll be spending plenty of time with them, learning all about marine conservation and the complexities of underwater life.

This project takes place off the island of Koh Phangan, a diver’s paradise with stunningly beautiful coral in easy reach off the coast. Novices are very welcome as professional diving instruction is available.

Not only will you be diving in Thailand, one of the world’s favourite diving destinations, you will be making a valuable contribution to the future of marine conservation in Thailand.

Whether you are looking to do a scuba diving gap year, are taking a career break or are simply looking for something amazing and different to do for a few weeks, this is a great opportunity to put into practice the diving skills that you learn

What will I be doing?

On arrival you will be given a thorough induction course on diving and the organisation’s research methods.  For those who have yet to experience diving, the PADI course will be an exciting introduction to the project.

Each day you will go out to sea to visit the coral reefs just off the coast, with dives of up to five metres. Here you are plunged into a different world with magnificent examples of the different colours of coral and sea life. As an important member of the team, you will help take samples and measurements of the coral mass. Marvel at the different species of fish as you come up close to them, count them and observe their behaviour. There will also be the exciting opportunity to take photographs of the coral and fish to help record any changes that occur.

This is an extremely hands-on project where each day you help towards the survival of the world under the sea. Recent volunteers have helped with gathering data that contributes to government surveys. There is an ongoing investigation to establish how much live coral there is, as well as which fish species are there. Volunteers also help to grow “nubbins”, small coral fragments that grow in aquariums, which will then be planted in the sea when they are big enough. This is a vital step to continue the survival of coral for many generations to come.

All this takes place in the very friendly fishing village of Chalok Lum on the north western side of the island. The conservation centre itself is run by very enthusiastic experts who are dedicated to preserving our marine environment.

Novices staying for two to four weeks will have the opportunity to become competent divers with an appreciation of the outstanding sights in the underwater world.  What better reason to join Oyster’s conservation diving project in Thailand, gain a diving qualification and use it to help the survival of the beautiful life forms you will see.

Internship opportunities

We are currently looking for interns to join this project for a minimum of 3 weeks and a maximum of 8 weeks. Interns need to have studied or be studying in a relevant subject field (for example marine biology, biology, oceanography etc) and be passionate about marine conservation. If you would be interested in immersing yourself in research, diving and underwater photography, contact Anne on anne@oysterworldwide.com to find out more. You can see more information here. You do not need to have previous diving experience, as we can train you on the project.

Accommodation and Food

You will stay in comfortable accommodation on site at the research centre. The research team also live there, and it is a fun and relaxed environment which you will soon be calling home. It is located right in the heart of the village, so you will soon be recognising your neighbours and returning their smiles.  It’s a wonderful opportunity to interact with incredibly warm local people and share their way of life.

You will be sharing a room with at least one other person. Rooms are comfortable yet basic, with mosquito nets and a fan provided. There is a lovely garden in the centre which, as Eike proudly claims, has the only outdoor cinema on the island (a good projector and a laptop being the backbone to this claim)!

There is a fully equipped kitchen and dining area -  however many volunteers are pleased to find that eating out can often be cheaper and easier. There are many local restaurants, all supplying excellent local and international food at very cheap prices. Some are even on the beach!

Highlights

  • Experience life under the sea – something that will stay with you forever!
  • Be part of an important mission to preserve the marine environment and experience life as a volunteer in Thailand
  • Receive expert diving instruction and come away with this skill, ready to dive in other places all over the world
  • Test your skills in underwater photography and videography – not only does it help research, but provides a fantastic souvenir
  • Make the most of life on the exciting island of Koh Phangan, which boasts gorgeous beaches, excellent hiking, great diving and a lively social life

Whyshould I do this?

Learning to dive and experiencing the wonder of the underwater world is high on many bucket lists. Take it one step further and dive with a conscience; help a team of researchers and conservationists on daily diving missions to collect data, complete research and take photographs of the reefs. Not only is this a valuable contribution to marine conservation, it also allows you to enjoy the reefs as something more than a tourist. Learning about the marine world through this project is possibly one of the most exciting lessons you will ever learn!

Getting there

You will fly to Koh Samui (USM), arriving before 3pm in the afternoon. Oyster will have arranged that on your arrival at the airport, a bus will take you down to the port. From here you will take a catamaran to the island of Koh Phangan, where you will be met and taken to the centre.

Our representative

Our representative

Janina and Eike founded this marine conservation and research facility in 2011. A lovely couple with witty sense of humour, they both speak English, Spanish and German, with a bit of Thai thrown in for good measure. Janina studied Educational Sciences in Germany, and had extensive experience in adult education before she started managing volunteer flow and pretty much everything else on this project. Eike studied Marine Biology and has a long history of volunteering in animal rescue organisations, before he moved into coral reef ecology. His claim is that this move was for the simple reason that corals don’t bite. No matter what your background is, they will be able to impress you with their vast knowledge of nearly everything (or at least point you to the appropriate book), and will make your stay unforgettable. They also know where you can get Bangers and Mash, should you ever get homesick.

What is provided

  • Before booking: Dedicated period of time on the phone or in person to discuss the project, answer any questions that you might have and find out more about you
  • Pre-departure briefing covering medical and safety features
  • Help and advice 24/7 from our UK office
  • Visa advice (which will vary depending on length of stay)
  • Diving tuition and continuous guidance from PADI trained instructors
  • PADI Open Water Diving Qualification for those not already qualified (extra cost of £150)
  • A practical and theoretical education on the very topical issue of coral conservation, ecology and fish identification
  • Clean, comfortable accommodation on site
  • Transport from the airport to the catamaran to take you to the island, where you will be met by a member of the team
  • Donation towards the construction of coral nurseries
  • Free access to InterHealth’s Travel Health Advice Service
  • Free myTsafe secure document storage account – worth £39!

On your return:

  • Call from Anne to gather your feedback
  • Welcome home pack
  • Certificate of Recognition (on request)
  • References (on request)

What do I need

  • A full passport valid for the duration of your stay
  • Insurance (covering your placement time and any planned independent travel)
  • Flights – these can be organised by Oyster which gives you ATOL protection
  • Cost of changing your return flight date if you need to
  • A diving qualification: PADI course can be completed on arrival for £150
  • Independent travel costs and return to the airport.
  • Money for food – approx £5 per day
  • Any additional costs such as trips, snacks, entertainment (allow maybe £25 per week depending on lifestyle).
  • No visa is necessary for under 30 days from UK and most western European countries. Advice given on longer stays.
  • The completion of a medical questionnaire, as safety is a priority.
  • No compulsory inoculations are necessary, although do check with your doctor to make sure polio, typhoid and Hep A&B jabs are up to date.
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