Koh Tao (Turtle Island) is a popular scuba diving destination in Thailand for the beauty and diversity of its marine life. This project helps to conserve the fragile marine life and ecosystems through education, research, protection and restoration projects. From monitoring seahorses to implementing artificial reef cubes, the work of the marine conservation project is diverse, complex and crucial in terms of protecting a special corner of the globe.
Volunteers have a real opportunity to make a difference at the marine conservation project in Thailand, as well as learn about a one-of-a-kind set of issues facing marine life in this part of the world. This all happens to the backdrop of the rhythms of island life on the mellow sanctuary of Koh Tao.
As a volunteer at the marine conservation project on Koh Tao, you’ll get involved in a wide range of tasks required at that moment in time. Different types of marine life are more or less prevalent at different times of the year. After being briefed on the tasks required for the day, volunteers travel to different sites around the island with scuba diving gear to get stuck in. You don’t need a diving qualification, but you’ll need to be willing to learn, and will have the opportunity to get qualifications as an added extra to your trip. Tasks are diverse, and include things such as researching and monitoring different marine species, building artificial reefs, releasing sea turtles from the headstarting program, taking care of the giant clams in the nurseries, taking coral bleaching surveys and caring for dying coral in the project’s nurseries. After a few hours out each day, you’ll return to the project’s base to enter your data into the project’s databases.
There are many ways to travel to Koh Tao, and you’ll receive a welcome back with the different options available to you. Once you’re on the island, the project base is a 5 minute taxi ride away from the ferry terminal. You’ll have a day or two to get to know your surroundings before you start volunteering. Volunteering takes place from Monday to Friday and days start at 9:00 with a briefing of the tasks required during the day ahead. You’ll then head out with your scuba gear to complete the tasks required of you. All scuba gear is available to hire, although you’re advised to bring your own mask and open-heel fins to ensure you have a good fit.
Volunteering days finish at around 16:30, after which you have free time to relax or explore the island. Activities locally available include yoga, snorkelling, kayaking, rock climbing and the combat sport Muay Thai. If you want to expand your marine conservation education, the project also has an extensive library for you to make use of. There’s always something going on at the marine conservation project, so you’re always more than welcome to pitch in and help with conservation tasks happening outside of the typical volunteering hours during the afternoons and weekends.
Most volunteers stay in the modern clean and quiet rooms provided by the marine conservation project, which have a sea view. Each room has its own bathroom, hot water and a fan, and are found up the hill from the marine conservation project and a five minute walk into town. Some volunteers choose to stay in a resort a short walk along the beach from the marine conservation project. Volunteers organise their own meals and many decide to eat out together in the evenings in the abundance of restaurants nearby.
Volunteers tend to feel quickly at home on Koh Tao and at the marine conservation project, making it a fulfilling way of life to slip into. The opportunity to spend time with like-minded marine conservation lovers means volunteers tend to make friends for life, as well as making an important impact on the project for the duration of their stay.