Wildlife conservation, community and environmental volunteer projects and internships worldwide

Volunteer with Coral Reefs

"I personally have been all over the world, and visited many different waters and coral reefs. Therefore, I feel safe saying that Mauritius’s coral reefs are a jewel in the worlds ocean, offering one of the most pristine, and diverse coral reef systems I have ever seen."

Alex, 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

  • Caribbean Reef Buddy Diving Project, Carriacou, West Indies

    • Duration 2-8 weeks
    • Prices from £1916

    Become a Caribbean Reef Buddy volunteer and join us on the beautiful island of Carriacou near Grenada. 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!

  • Maldives Island Volunteer Project

    • Duration 2-12 Weeks
    • Prices from £1095

    Volunteer in the Maldives and join various environmental, medical, community and marine conservation projects within the tropical island of Naifaru, the capital of the Lhaviyani Atoll.

  • Coral Reef Conservation & Diving Project, Thailand

    • Duration 2 - 12 Weeks
    • Prices from £995

    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.

  • Blue Lagoon Coral Reef Project, Mauritius

    • Duration 2 weeks to 5 months
    • Prices from £830

    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.