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Diving & Marine Conservation Volunteer Projects in Cambodia

You can volunteer on a Diving & Marine Conservation project in Cambodia on the tropical Gulf of Thailand.

 The project is based on the beautiful and peaceful island of Koh Rong Samleom and is a two hour boat ride from the lively coastal town of Sihanoukville. The island is home to a small fishing village and has stunning beaches with a background of lush primary jungle.

The project involves protecting local marine wildlife, including the endangered seahorses. You can get involved in research dives, beach clean-ups and community work in the local village. This will all take place under the guidance and supervision of our experienced local staff.

This project is ideal for anyone interested in marine conservation and diving. You will get the chance to work in an incredible environment and perform important work. You do not need previous experience to take part in this project, although of course anyone with a marine biology background will be very welcome.

Volunteers can join us at any time throughout the year on a gap year, a career break, for university research, or as part of a summer holiday. We are also running a special 2-week long project from 9th to 22nd December 2012, volunteers will receive one dive course and will help with a community building project (a children's playground), which we need extra help to complete during this time.

What is my role on this Conservation & Environment project?

Volunteers on this project may take part in activities such as:

  • Marine diving surveys, including seahorse identification and behaviour, coral & fish biodiversity and habitat & mapping surveys.
  • Salvage diving in order to collect debris from the ocean.
  • Beach clean-ups and educational classes with children in the village.
  • Helping with the local English school and library for the local children.
  • Monitoring catches of local fishermen and helping to run training programmes on sustainable fishing.
  • Monitoring a sea grass site and artificial reef.

One of the first things that you'll be doing is learning how to scuba dive. We will train you up to the level of Advanced Scuba Diver*, helping you to learn the fundamental theoretical and practical aspects of diving. As an Advanced Scuba diver you’re allowed to dive to depths of 30m and can participate fully in the underwater conservation work.

We work with Marine Conservation Cambodia whose diving operation is staffed by highly trained dive masters and scuba instructors with many years’ experience in SE Asian waters.

Volunteers who are unable to scuba dive or who are not interested in the dive-related work can still get involved. You can take part in snorkelling or focus on the land based conservation work. There is plenty to be done and all efforts go towards the protection of this beautiful and developing country.

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. Volunteers normally 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.

What are the aims of this Conservation & Environment project?

The main reason why this project began in the first place was to help with the protection of seahorses in Cambodia. This is still a key aim of the project as we campaign and educate against illegal fishing. We hope to see a rise in the seahorse population in the future as we expand the protected areas and continue research into their habitats and behaviour.

Thanks to the work already carried out, the area around Koh Rong Samleom is now the largest patrolled marine conservation area in Cambodia and is officially recognised by the Cambodian Fisheries Administration. In January 2011 this collaboration was confirmed by the signing of a Collaborative Marine Conservation Agreement with the Department of Fisheries Conservation of Fisheries Administration.

From June 2012 we have been collaborating with experts from The Seahorse Trust and Save our Seahorses to further develop the seahorse research taking place. The surveys will provide new information on seahorse behaviour to these partner organisations and help with the goal of protecting the area further and minimising large scale development on the island. Another long term goal is to set up a fisheries conservation and research centre on the island. Our work in Cambodia also includes the local communities. Training and education is an important step towards sustainability and the preservation of Cambodia’s marine environment.

What are the living conditions on this project?

You will sleep in bunk beds in 4-person basic wooden bungalows shared with other conservation volunteers. The accommodation has electricity provided by a generator for a few hours in the evenings. Each bungalow has an attached bathroom with a western style toilet with a bucket and a scoop to flush it and a bucket shower. The bungalows are just a few metres from the beach and all enjoy fantastic sea views.

All volunteers eat together in the large multi-functional communal area. The area consists of a kitchen and large dining area and has plenty of space to study or to enjoy the view and relax in a hammock. The surrounding garden has a toilet building and an equipment room. In the evenings staff and volunteers play cards, watch a DVD or visit one of the small island bars.

This project is available for two weeks if you don't have time to join us for a month 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 and community 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.

* Volunteers who already have their Advanced Open Water qualification will receive a 5% discount off the cost of the first month on the Conservation project and will be able to start the conservation related dive work straight away. Additional courses cost extra and can be arranged in Cambodia.

Gap Year Vitals

  • Location: Cambodia



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