Diving and marine conservation in Thailand
Help conserve the world’s depleting coral reefs as a marine biology volunteer in Thailand. Immerse yourself in the underwater world completing daily dives off the stunning Thai island of Koh Phangan, all whilst helping with an important research and conservation project.
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, combining your passion for diving, conservation and travelling.
Experience life under the sea as a research diver, helping to promote the survival of coral reefs and the many fish that need them to survive.
You’ll be working with a marine research organisation performing daily dives (weather permitting!) to help understand the local ecosystem, working to develop and implement 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. 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 biology conservation in Thailand.
All this takes place in the very friendly fishing village of Chalok Lum on the north western side of Koh Phangan – one of the most beautiful islands in the area.
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, you can take a 4-day PADI course which will be an exciting introduction to the project.
This is an extremely hands-on project where each day you help towards the survival of the world under the sea. As an important member of the team, you will help with a wide range of projects. Examples of these can be seen below – please note, you should not expect to do all of these tasks and you should remember that bad weather can and does affect activities:
- Taking samples and measurements of the coral mass
- Marvelling at the different species of fish as you come up close to them, count them and observe their behaviour
- Taking photographs of the coral and fish to help record any changes that occur
- Helping to gather data contributing to governmental surveys and research projects
- Investigating how much live coral there is and the effects of coral bleaching
- Completing fish surveys to know which fishes are living in this area
- Growing “nubbins”, small coral fragments, in aquariums and planting them in the reef. This is a vital step to continue the survival of coral for many generations to come
- Measuring water temperature
- Coral reef clean up programs- helping to remove fishing lines and other debris carefully from the reefs
Please remember, the weather is out of our control, and it may limit the number of dives that you are able to do. We therefore recommend a minimum duration of 4 weeks on this project.
Marine Biology Conservation Internship opportunities
We are currently looking for interns to join this project for durations of 4, 6 or 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, underwater photography and conservation work experience overseas, contact Anne on [email protected] 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 be living in the friendly community of Chalok Lum on the island of Koh Phangan. 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!
When should I book?
Whilst late-availability is possible, we would advise booking as soon as you can to guarantee your ideal dates. Our projects are very popular and spaces can fill up several months in advance, especially for the months of June to September.
- Explore the beautiful underwater world of a world famous diving destination – an unforgettable experience!
- Contribute to preserving the marine environment, and learn the intricacies of the reef ecosystem, as you work alongside conservation experts.
- Receive expert diving instruction and come away 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 it also provides a fantastic souvenir.
- Experience life as a volunteer in Thailand and become part of a friendly island community.
- 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.
- Immerse yourself in volunteer marine biology, giving you great work experience and knowledge as you enjoy the underwater world.
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 by joining this volunteer marine conservation project; 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, 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!
Whether you are looking to do a scuba diving gap year, are taking a career break or are simply looking for volunteer holidays abroad, doing marine conservation volunteering is a great opportunity to put into practice the diving skills that you learn.
You will fly to Koh Samui (USM), arriving before 17.00 on a Monday. 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.
Janina and Eike founded this project 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
- Access to your personal ‘My Oyster’ account – our online portal where you can find out much more about the programme and manage your booking.
- 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
- Tune up session for previously qualified divers prior to your first dive
- PADI Open Water Diving Qualification for those not already qualified (extra cost of £350)
- 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
- All dive equipment required
- Donation towards the construction of coral nurseries
- Oyster Worldwide volunteer t-shirt
- Oyster luggage tag
On your return:
- Welcome home pack
- Certificate of Recognition (on request)
- References (on request)
What do I need
- A full passport valid for a minimum of 6 months after you arrive in Thailand
- Insurance covering your project time and any planned independent travel, we can introduce you to a policy
- 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 £350
- Independent travel costs and return to the airport.
- Money for food – approx £10 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.