Marine conservation volunteering
in Thailand

Koh Phangan and Koh Tao are two of the most popular islands in the Gulf of Thailand, particularly famous for their diving, and for the ease with which you can earn a scuba qualification. However, the coral reefs found in the shallow waters off both islands are in jeopardy and while conservation efforts are having some success, much work remains to be done if they are to survive into the future. In case you weren’t aware – we really, really need coral reefs to survive. Here’s why.
While they make up just 0.1 percent of the Earth’s surface, coral reefs support a vast amount of marine wildlife – up to 25 percent of all life in the ocean depends on their complex ecosystems. They also serve as natural barriers against the impact of waves on coastlines and, of course, they are of immense value to the fishing and tourism industries. So if they die out, the impact not just on marine life but humanity too will be profound.
The reefs off Koh Phangan and Koh Tao are, like so many others around the world, threatened by bleaching, which is caused by warming waters and pollution, and damage as a result of over fishing. The longer that a reef is exposed to these problems, the lower the chances are of successful recovery. Marine conservation holidays in Thailand see you conducting reef surveys to collect data and observations which will be used in pushing for the creation of new policies and environmental laws to protect the environment.

Practicalities

Most importantly, for you to participate fully in a marine conservation project such as this, you will need to be able to dive, with a PADI or SSI certification a minimum (some trips may require an Advanced certification). If you don’t already have this then you can acquire it on arrival for a supplement. It takes at least four days so factor that in to the length of your stay.
On Koh Phangan you’ll stay within the research facility in pleasant surroundings very close to the beach, on a self-catering basis (there are great restaurants nearby), and on Koh Tao in a village a short walk from the dive school. Expect to be working five full days each week alongside other volunteers (typically between five and 25 other people, depending on the project and time of year), as well as full-time staff and research interns, leaving plenty of time to socialise and explore the island you’re based on. This kind of trip can be fantastic for families too, with a minimum age of 12.
On Koh Phangan you’ll stay within the research facility in pleasant surroundings very close to the beach, on a self-catering basis (there are great restaurants nearby), and on Koh Tao in a village a short walk from the dive school. Expect to be working five full days each week alongside other volunteers (typically between five and 25 other people, depending on the project and time of year), as well as full-time staff and research interns, leaving plenty of time to socialise and explore the island you’re based on. This kind of trip can be fantastic for families too, with a minimum age of 12.

Our top Thailand volunteering Holiday

Thailand wildlife sanctuary volunteering holiday

Thailand wildlife sanctuary volunteering holiday

Volunteering break at a wildlife sanctuary in Thailand

From £739 7 days ex flights
Tailor made:
This project can be tailor made throughout the year to suit your requirements
Travel Team
If you'd like to chat about Thailand volunteering or need help finding a holiday to suit you we're very happy to help.

Daily tasks

Once you’ve obtained the necessary dive qualification your days will be spent on a combination of research and restoration activities. These will likely include ecological monitoring, essentially conducting reef health surveys; underwater photography, and restoration efforts such as planting new coral.

Depending on the project you select you might also be helping with the construction and maintenance of artificial reefs (used to boost marine life and take the pressure off natural reefs); tending nurseries of giant clams and coral; studying species of seahorses, sea turtles and coral predators such as crown of thorns starfish; water testing and working with community groups to raise awareness or host educational workshops.
“Go prepared to learn, there's loads of really interesting marine ecology information to learn as part of the Environment Management Programme. There are interesting and knowledgeable people there, who are enthusiastic about sharing their knowledge. Enjoy the diving, safe in the knowledge that you are diving responsibly, not at the expense of the environment. It was an excellent experience, a chance to visit a beautiful location, meet interesting people, improve my diving and enjoy myself.” – Stephen Orwin on a marine conservation holiday in Thailand
Written by Rob Perkins
Photo credits: [Page banner: Dudarev Mikhail] [Coral: Ilse Reijs and Jan-Noud Hutten] [Diving: David Rubin] [Group effort: David Petit]
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