This programme combines both sea turtle conservation as well as general marine conservation, and as such volunteers will be involved in a range of tasks:
Are you an ocean lover? Are you passionate about marine conservation, oceanography, biodiversity studies; would you like to work with saving an endangered species or are you just crazy about spending time underwater, diving, snorkelling, and the general underwater experience? Then this is your chance to see your passion turned into action and experience the splendours of the lush corals of the tropical islands of the Maldives!
Programme Description - Please note this project is unavailable in January and February
As a volunteer in our Marine & Turtle Conservation Programme, you will not only get to experience true island life as it is lived in the Indian Ocean. You will also get a chance to work closely with other ocean enthusiasts, both international and local, at our local marine centre. In our marine centre we work on a range of projects such as our turtle head-starting program, collecting fish and coral data, planning and implementing awareness programmes for the community and schools, reef monitoring and extending our coral garden which has been laid around the island of Naifaru. Additionally, during the calm season (November to May), there is the potential opportunity to contribute to manta ray monitoring efforts.
Every project is important to us and the community in different ways and you will play an integral role contributing to the longevity of all of the above projects.
The Marine & Turtle Conservation Programme is available for 2-week durations but we strongly recommend you to stay for at least 3 weeks to get the full experience as some of the tasks will take a while for you to master. Furthermore, weather conditions also play a factor in what you will be able to do and bad weather may prevent you from going in the water for several days.
Our Marine & Turtle Conservation Programme has been very warmly received both by local islanders and our volunteers. The volunteers who have been attached to the project have all been very driven and we have seen tremendous progress in a very short time. In the past our projects have ranged from monitoring corals and building our coral garden to establishing and running the turtle head-starting program. In this are three stages in which our volunteers will participate:
- Receiving: We believe that it is ideal to leave turtles in their natural environment without human interaction. We do not hatch turtles as it is a delicate procedure which has the potential to ‘go wrong’. This said, we will always take in a turtle in need. We get turtles from a number of sources; most are donated to the centre by locals who have purchased them as pets.
- Care & Rehabilitation: As our turtle conservation volunteer, you will be working to nurse the turtles until they reach a size whereby they have fewer natural predators; this is called a ‘Head Start Programme’.
- Releasing: Once they have grown to an adequate size, they are relocated into the sea in a sea cage before finally being released back into the wild.
Other elements of the project include teaching the local populace about the importance of marine & turtle conservation, conducting awareness campaigns in the community and hosting sessions with tourists from nearby resorts to raise further awareness about turtle conservation.
We endeavour to visit nearby islands to show presence and monitoring activity to those who raid turtle nests so that the plight of the wild turtle population is not ignored or forgotten. Through our dedicated volunteers and an effort from the locals to see this programme flourish, we now have experience which has led to a well-established Marine & Turtle Conservation Programme and the construction of our new Marine Conservation Park.
As our Marine Centre and Turtle Rehabilitation Area are nearing completion, we are turning more of our attention toward the implementation of our Coral Gardening project as well as an Anemone Fish Breeding project in our Marine Park area.
We are currently awaiting the implementation of our sea cage, where the turtles are to be fully rehabilitated into the sea before final release into the wild.
Furthermore, we are working on plans to lobby for complete legal protection of the sea turtles of the Maldives as nest-raiding is still a legal activity. This means known nesting sites are regularly visited by poachers who take the eggs for consumption or for hatching baby turtles to be sold as pets (the latter is illegal but not enforced effectively at the moment).
Before you sign up for volunteering in our Marine Conservation Programme, you should take note of the few requirements listed below. To volunteer in this programme, you should
- Have the ability to swim and be comfortable in the water
- Hold an interest in marine life and conservation efforts
- Have experience in the field of marine biology or oceanography (beneficial)
- Have an open mind towards other cultures
- Be willing to commit yourself to helping our community
- Bring your own snorkelling equipment (mask, snorkel and fins)
What’s in it for you?
Whether you have a degree in either marine biology or oceanography or you are a student or just an ocean lover, we guarantee that volunteering in this programme will be both a learning experience and a lot of fun!
By joining our programme, you will be able to truly make a difference where it matters! We have a lot of experience in this field and joining us means that you will gain a lot of practical experience as well as being given the opportunity to bring your own views and considerations to the project.