Wildlife conservation and community volunteer projects and internships worldwide

Volunteer with Coral Reefs

"I had such an incredible, life changing experience on my trip to Cocodrilo. It felt so empowering to be a part of this program and to be able to help. There is so much to do and so much to see in this small town! I cannot wait to be involved in another program and return back to Cocodrilo!"

Jamie Preira, USA

Coral reefs are underwater ecosystems that are thought to house around 25% of all marine life.  And they do it in magnificent fashion: they can be bright and colourful, intricate and patterned and simply fascinating to observe as they, literally, breathe live into the oceans around us.  There are hundreds of different species of coral, many of which vary in shape, size and colour.

Reefs are grouped into four main categories: fringing reefs, barrier reefs, patch reefs and atolls.  They provide homes and sustenance to multiple marine species, they also protect shorelines from storms and large waves.  They stabilise the seabeds wherever they grow, helping seagrass and other plants to survive in the area.  In addition to this, coral reefs have been known to harbour medical cures and they help maintain levels of carbon monoxide.  They are thus not only incredibly beautiful, but entirely functional and beneficial to both ocean and land life. If you join want to volunteer with coral reefs, we offer volunteer programmes in Mauritius, Cuba and in Carriacou where you can help out with coral reef research and restoration.

Our Projects with Coral Reefs

  • Maldives Island Volunteer Project

    • Duration 2-12 Weeks
    • Prices from £1595

    Volunteer in the Maldives and join marine conservation and medical projects within the tropical island of Naifaru, the capital of the Lhaviyani Atoll.  Add on coral reef restoration diving available, as well as student vet opportunities available.

  • Caribbean Reef Buddy Diving Project, Carriacou, West Indies

    • Duration 2 Weeks+
    • Prices from £1190

    Become a Caribbean Reef Buddy volunteer and join us on the beautiful island of Carriacou near Grenada. Try some Caribbean diving, learn to dive in the warm, crystal clear waters of the Caribbean and play an active part in our exciting marine conservation projects.  Also an opportunity to kick-start your diving career with our Eco Divemaster programme!

  • Coral Reef Conservation & Diving Project, Thailand

    • Duration 2 - 12 Weeks
    • Prices from £1295

    Join a marine and coral reef conservation project on Koh Phangan island in Thailand’s Samui archipelago. A great opportunity for students looking to gain diving and scientific research experience in a stunning tropical setting and kickstart a career in marine conservation.

  • Great Barrier Reef Conservation Project, Australia

    • Duration 2-4 Weeks
    • Prices from £2075

    Join a marine conservation internship in Australia’s Great Barrier Reef. Help to protect this amazing natural wonder and develop your conservation and research skills alongside experienced marine biologists.

  • Coral Reef Restoration & Diving Project, Bali

    • Duration 1 - 8 Weeks
    • Prices from £749

    Join our reef restoration mission in Bali! Empower local communities to bring new life to the northeast coast. As part of this reef restoration programme, help construct and deploy artificial reefs, dive up to 8 times a week to monitor progress, and be a part of restoring the beauty of Bali’s reefs.

  • Blue Lagoon Coral Reef Project, Mauritius

    • Duration 1 week to 3 months
    • Prices from £630

    Volunteer in Mauritius in the Indian Ocean and take part in a coral reef monitoring and marine conservation volunteer and internship programme, which includes coral reef farming and restoration, lagoon monitoring and sea turtle research in the beautiful Blue Bay Marine Park.

Basic Facts

Basic Facts

As corals are related to sea anemones they share the same simple structure: the polyp which opens at one end with a mouth surrounded by a ring of tentacles. These tentacles have stinging cells that allow for the capture of small organisms.  Corals also extract calcium carbonate from seawater to create the hard, durable exoskeleton that protects these soft, sac-like bodies.  Shallow water corals also source food from zooxanthellae. These produce food through photosynthesis and in exchange, this helps shallow water corals to grow fast enough to build the enormous structures we call reefs.  Zooxanthellae also provides much of the colour that corals have.

Reproduction occurs during a mass coral spawning event that usually occurs at night and can happen several times a year.  Because coral reefs grow very slowly, many systems can be thousands of years old.  Some estimates suggest that most of the substantial coral reefs found today are between 5,000 and 10,000 years old.

Did You Know?

Did You Know?

  • The largest of the coral reef systems, the Great Barrier Reef in Australia, is more than 2,400 kilometers long? It is so large that it can be seen from space.
  • Coral reefs are the largest structures on earth of biological origin?
  • Coral reefs can also be started on the shells of sunken boats? In fact, to help preserve different sea biomes, the navy will sink old ships to allow a coral reef to grow.
  • Coral reefs are often called ‘the rainforests of the sea’?
  • They first appeared in the Cambrian period, 570 million years ago?
  • Coral reefs also help to improve the surrounding water quality? They act as a kind of filter that traps things floating in the water.
Main Conservation Threats

Main Conservation Threats

Coral reefs are increasingly threatened by a number of factors and because they are fragile and take a considerable time to ‘regrow’, the threats to them are all the more severe.  Climate change can seriously affect coral’s ability to produce the hard calcium carbonate exoskeleton that they rely on due to the large amounts of carbon dioxide released into the atmosphere.  Warming water temperatures can also cause coral bleaching.  Destructive fishing practices, can destroy precious reef systems in minutes and careless tourism – like the anchoring of large cruise ships – is also common. Coral reefs are extremely sensitive to pollution and thus agricultural pesticides and fertilisers, oil and gasoline make it difficult for coral to thrive.  In some places, reefs have been entirely destroyed, and in many places today the reefs are a pale shadow of what they once were.  Conservation efforts are thus crucial, and if you want to help, you can take part in volunteering with coral reef restoration and ‘regrowing’, to help speed the growth of much of what has been lost.