There are many organisations offering volunteer dive trips, ranging from volunteering for 8 weeks on a remote island to spending two weeks on a liveaboard recording whaleshark sightings. These trips can be a wonderful opportunity to use your diving skills to help to conserve and protect the oceans as well as having an incredible experience. I chose to do a 9 week dive conservation project in Madagascar for my honeymoon and we had a truly fantastic time.
If you are thinking about volunteering on a dive conservation project it is well worth looking at a few different organisations and doing some research. There are now various dive volunteer experiences all over the globe, pick the right one and you are in for a mind blowing and potentially life-changing trip!
Dive volunteering or conservation trips can be great examples of responsible diving and the dive hub will feature lots more information and blog posts on this subject. Different types of projects are going to suit different types of people, and be aware that the project experience and quality can vary massively between organisations so it’s essential to do your research and ask some questions before taking the plunge!
Here are some key things to consider when volunteering,
- What are the aims of the project and research and how do volunteers contribute to these aims?
- What results, achievements and research have been published from the project and were volunteers involved in that work?
- What will my responsibilities be as a volunteer on the conservation project?
- Is there any continuity? (This is an absolute essential – continuity promotes sustainability and ensures that you can build on the work of previous volunteers no matter how long you are able to volunteer)
- How and where is my money spent? Most reputable companies will be as transparent as possible and will be able to tell you what your money will be spent on, both in the UK and overseas, anything from paying office staff and local partners to providing food and accommodation and buying scientific equipment.
- Will I work with, not instead of, local people? The best volunteer organisations have established relationships with their projects and employ local country co-ordinators and management. This also ensures that the projects benefit the local people and meet their requests and needs, and not just the volunteers!
By asking these kinds of questions you can make sure that your precious time spent volunteering is really rewarding and worthwhile for you, and for the local communities and environments you will be working with. Click here for tips on choosing a dive volunteer project
Read this interview with dive instructor Al, who has managed dive conservation projects all over the world and has some good advice about choosing the right volunteer dive project.