Volunteer Diving & Marine Conservation in Cambodia
- Placement location: Koh Sdach
- Role: To conduct marine wildlife surveys and beach clean-ups
- Main Research Focus: Protection of endangered seahorses
- Local Environment: Marine
- Accommodation: Shared volunteer bungalows
- Price: From
- What's included? Food, accommodation, transfers to and from our specified airport, transport to and from work where required, insurance, personal webpage, induction and orientation, 24/7 support, dive equipment, PADI diving course
- What's not included? Flights, visa costs, spending money
- Length of placement: From 2 weeks
- Start dates: Flexible
As a volunteer on Projects Abroad’s Diving & Marine Conservation Project in Cambodia, you will contribute to the protection of marine wildlife and assist with important community work. The main threat to the marine environment in Cambodia is the lack of regulation and awareness in the fishing industry, which leads to overfishing and destructive fishing practices. So, one of our main goals at the project is to give local people the tools for change.
Located on the tropical gulf of Thailand, this project is ideal for anyone with an interest in marine conservation, diving, and working in an incredible environment. You can join us on a gap year, a summer vacation, a career break, for university research, or as part of a professional getaway.
The project is based on the island of Koh Sdach, where you can get involved in various activities, including research dives, data collection, conducting workshops and classes for local fisherman and schools, and beach clean-ups. This will all take place under the guidance and supervision of our experienced local staff. You do not need previous experience to take part, although anyone with a marine biology background is encouraged to join. You don’t need to have previous diving experience either and training courses are included in the programme.
Your Role on the Conservation & Environment Project in Cambodia
On this project, you can get involved in activities such as:
- Marine diving surveys, including fish size and abundance (to measure the impact of overfishing), composition and health of the coral reef, invertebrate abundance (indicator species) seahorse identification and behaviour, and habitat and mapping surveys.
- Salvage diving in order to collect debris from the ocean.
- Waste management plan: this includes beach clean-ups, dives against debris, and teaching locals about recycling and disposing of waste responsibly.
- Teaching classes about the environment at a local school two afternoons a week. Some of our volunteers also take the time to teach English.
- Monitoring catches of local fishermen and helping to run training programmes on sustainable fishing and the importance of preserving the coral reef.
A work schedule is established each week so you know what is happening and when. The schedule varies, depending on the time of year, the weather, and the number of volunteers on the project. Normally, you work five days a week and some diving usually takes place each work day. You will have two days off to relax, travel back to the mainland, or get involved in some of the many other activities the area offers. There is also usually the option of fun diving on one of your days off.
The most rain usually falls in July and August, and during these months and any other rainy or windy periods, the diving work can be disrupted.
Dive Courses in Cambodia with Projects Abroad
One of the first things that you will be doing is learning how to scuba dive. We will train you up to PADI Open Water standards, helping you to learn the fundamental theoretical and practical aspects of diving. As a PADI certified diver you can participate fully in the underwater conservation work. Volunteers with an existing dive certification equivalent to the PADI Open Water qualification receive the PADI Advanced course. Volunteers joining us for at least 4 weeks from July 1st 2015 will also receive the Projects Abroad Survey Diver certification card. This is a PADI authorized specialty course which includes full training in underwater survey and research techniques.
If you are unable to scuba dive or are not interested in the dive-related work, you can still get involved. You can take part in snorkeling or focus on the land based conservation work. There is plenty to be done and all efforts go towards the protection of this beautiful country.
The Goals of the Conservation & Environment Project in Cambodia
The main reason why this project began in the first place was to help with the protection of seahorses in Cambodia. While this is no longer our main project focus, we will still be monitoring seahorse sightings and reporting them to major international bodies. We hope to see a rise in the seahorse population in the future as their protected areas expand and scientists continue research into their habitats and behaviour.
The data we collect is given to local authorities with the hope that they will declare it a protected area. In addition, the data is also shared with the fishermen, so that we can advise them on how they can improve their fishing methods.
Education is also one of the key aspects of the project. Twice a week, you will help teach classes at the local school, teaching students about important environmental issues. In the past, volunteers have done puppet shows about sharks, recycling initiatives, and more. We also hold workshops for the island’s fisherman and inform them about sustainable fishing and the coral reef.
Volunteers taking part in our Conservation programme in Cambodia will also be contributing to our exciting new Global Shark Campaign, which is taking place in 18 countries in 4 continents. We collect data on all shark sightings that take place during our research dives. This data is then sent over to our campaign headquarters in Fiji to contribute to their research efforts.
You can read more detailed information about the aims of the project and our reef check methodology in our Cambodia Conservation Management Plan.
Accommodation on the Conservation & Environment Project
You will stay in accommodation built on stilts over the water in the fishing village of Koh Sdach and sleep in same-sex dorm rooms. The accommodation constant has electricity. Each bathroom has a western style toilet with a bucket and a scoop to flush it and a shower. Apart from the fishing village, the island has a few guest houses and lots of forest.
All volunteers eat together in the large multi-functional communal area or on the deck overlooking the water. You will have plenty of opportunities to mingle with the local villagers and learn about Khmer culture.
You can join the Conservation & Environment project in Cambodia two or three weeks if you don't have time to join us for four weeks or more. During a two week placement volunteers receive just one dive course, either the Open Water or Advanced course. This project has been selected by our local colleagues as being suitable for short term volunteering for both the host community and the volunteer. However, although you will gain a valuable cultural insight and work on a variety of conservation activities please be aware that you may not be able to make the same impact as someone volunteering for a longer period. The amount of diving may also be limited by the weather, especially during the rainy season between June and September.
This placement is fully researched, safety audited and risk assessed in accordance with the British Standard BS8848 for the Adventure Travel Sector