Wildlife conservation and community volunteer projects and internships worldwide

Great Barrier Reef Conservation Project, Australia

2-4 Weeks from

minimum age

  • Get hands-on marine conservation research experience
  • Help to conserve and protect the iconic Great Barrier Reef
  • Work along side a team of international interns and marine biologists
  • Explore the stunning tropical beauty of Cairns during your free time

"This project is very focused on providing value via education and skill-building of their interns"

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I sought out the project as I am studying Environmental Science at university, and was required to join an internship as part of my studies. I found it a great compliment to my studies and interests, although anyone with an interest in conservation and/or marine life would also get a lot out of the programme.

I was involved in reef monitoring and data collection (via snorkelling), as well as working on an education-based project (a course on coral fish species) on office days. I found that the programme was very well organised; the programme is well thought out with clear objectives, and really focused on imparting knowledge and experience to the interns. The first few days were centered around training and orientation, and I learned a lot during this time and felt adequately prepared for the tasks required of me. I was the only intern during the time of my placement, so I received a lot of one-on-one support and training. I felt welcomed and included by the staff and learned a lot from them.

I was met at the airport by one of the staff members and dropped off at my accommodation. The office is in the centre of town, a short walk from the recommended accommodation and about a 10-minute drive to the airport.

The accommodation during the stay was at the YHA hostel, in a dorm room. It was an attractive, clean hostel with a large communal kitchen and a swimming pool. It is one of the quieter hostel options in Cairns, not one of the ‘party’ hostels. Lunches were provided on reef days, which were tasty and plenty available. Otherwise, meals were self-catered. There is a shopping centre opposite the accommodation with a supermarket.

During my stay I had multiple days of comprehensive training and orientation; working closely with very experienced and knowledgable staff; a large proportion of in-field/reef days, balanced well with office days, and weekends free for sightseeing; work experience in conservation in multiple approaches, including research and data collection, as well as community/public engagement and education.

I found that unlike many internships that are primarily looking for free labour, this project is very focused on providing value via education and skill-building of their interns. It felt like a mutually beneficial experience, and I would absolutely recommend it to others.

"Incredible staff, super friendly and welcoming. The experience wouldn’t have been the same without them"

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What projects/activities were you involved in?

I completed data collection/ surveying for Eye On the Reef, coral watch (these were the main two) and on top of that we helped with ongoing projects such as researching for educational materials to be used in the classroom (researching facts and information for posters and booklets)

Was the programme well organised? Did you receive adequate support from staff?

Incredibly organised! If there were days where we were meant to go out to the reef but couldn’t due to the weather they always had back up plans for those days. I had awesome support from staff too.

Was the project site easy to access upon arrival at the airport? What was orientation like?

Yes, they met us at the airport and it was easy to spot them. From here they showed us our accommodation and on the first day actually took us to the office showing us where to meet in the future days. Orientation was super thorough but not boring at all. They kept it interesting.

Could you give 3 positive features of the programme?

1. Incredible staff, super friendly and welcoming. The experience wouldn’t have been the same without them honestly!
2. The organisation was great. Always had a plan B and we’re quick to sort any inconveniences out.
3. The relationship with the staff in the diving boats made the trips out to the reef a lot of fun too. The dive boat staff were also super friendly which helped!

Honestly, I can’t think of any negatives, apart from sometimes the weather could make the water choppy which isn’t easy on the stomach but that’s easily resolved with anti nausea pills!

What was the standard of accommodation, food and lodging?

We stayed at YHA which was great. Super close to everything which was good for days off and has a pool which is handy if you don’t feel like walking down to the esplanade. Food was good, they had breakfast foods aside for us in the hostel and other than that we were right across the road from the supermarket so we could sort our own food pretty easily.

Would you recommend the programme to others?

I couldn’t recommend this programme MORE. I plan on coming back in the future to do it again or even to visit the team because it was such an awesome experience. Great way to see and learn about the reef too.

Great Barrier Reef Conservation Project, Australia

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