Marine and Coral Reef Conservation in Thailand
We currently offer 2 different options for this project; the Marine Conservation internship programme and the Marine Research internship programme. Both internship projects are open to everyone with an interest and motivation to protect marine life, but the research internship programme is more geared towards Bsc or Msc University students and graduates who are looking to do a specific research project and requires a commitment of 6-12 weeks with a zoom interview for the application process (whereas the conservation internship is 2-12 weeks and no interview required). Both internships though will enable you to gain skills towards developing a career in reef conservation. Both programmes include a 2-week dive and conservation skills training period at the beginning of your stay to get your skills ready, followed by the conservation or research work. To join either programme you need to be an open water qualified diver or above, but don’t worry if you are not, we can arrange for you to take a 4-day PADI course at the start of your stay before you begin your 2-week training!
Marine conservation and research interns assist a team of international researchers to maintain and establish experiments, collect data, as well as assist our conservation-oriented activities, to maintain and establish projects like artificial reefs and coral nurseries, remove ghost nets, clean reefs and beaches, and whatever else is necessary to make a better world.
Typical project tasks can include, but are not limited to the list below. You should not expect to do all of these tasks and please remember that bad weather can and does affect activities:
- Taking samples and measurements of the coral mass
- Marvelling at the diverse species of fish up and close, counting, and observing natural behaviour
- Taking photographs of the coral and creatures 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 fish inhabit this area
- Growing “nubbins” (small coral fragments) in aquariums and planting them on the reef
- Measuring water temperature
- Coral reef clean up programmes including helping to remove fishing lines and debris
Interns generally work from 9am-4pm, with a lunch break, 6 days a week. The day starts with a briefing about current developments, and to plan the day. After that, interns go out for 1 or 2 dives, to work or collect data. After lunch, it’s time to debrief, process data or work on new projects.
2-Week Dive and Conservation Skills Training
The first two weeks of all programmes are dedicated to training. If you come for just 2 weeks you will only be doing the training programme, if you stay for longer you will then move onto the marine conservation and/or research internship activities as listed above. The 2-week training programme aims to produce competent divers, seeking to work in marine conservation in tropical environments. After completing the programme, participants should be able to maintain, survey and monitor any area of interest, in similar environments, in a safe and efficient manner. The training involves around 15 dives, 10 topics and contains both academic and practical modules. After this training, you should be a confident diver, competent in tropical conservation activities. You’ll have the tools to monitor and evaluate coral reef ecosystem health, reef resilience and work on artificial structures and nurseries. You will be able to identify corals to genus level, and common fish to species level. You will be able to calculate substrate biodiversity, live coral cover and fish to biomass conversions.
Background on the Programme
It is a sad fact that around a quarter of the world’s coral reefs, and their magnificent diversity of life, are already considered damaged beyond repair. This project aims to mitigate this situation by partnering scientific skill with environmental passion. Together with interns, researchers, conservationists and others, this project develops, tests and applies best practices to actively help deteriorating coral reefs. The project field station on Koh Phangan opened its doors in 2011. Together with partners from the DMCR, Thai and International universities, local NGOs, interns and volunteers, this project has researched countless kilometres of reefs in the Samui archipelago.