Marine Conservation

Thailand

Our award winning Marine Conservation project in Thailand support conservation and research initiatives on the beautiful island of Koh Tao.

Working within a dynamic team you will contribute to the research, protection and restoration of reefs. Volunteers support a variety of initiatives such as artificial reef installations, coral predator monitoring and baby turtle rehabilitation and much more. The project has two main objectives; surveying the reefs and implementing local environmental initiatives to protect the oceans and coastline. Divers of all abilities are welcome as training can be provided on site.

Live on the idyllic island of Koh Tao and explore its world famous dive sites! Explore the island’s beaches, hills and jungles in your free time.

Join the research team and contribute to marine conservation initiatives.

Apply

Key Info

key info
  • Location: Koh Tao
  • Start dates: Every Saturday
  • Duration: 1 – 12 weeks +
  • Age requirement: 18+ (12+ for families or groups)
  • Availability: Spaces available
  • Cost: From £795 / €930 / $1020 - see fees table below

Project Information

Volunteer role: What will I be doing?

The Marine Conservation project in Thailand has two main objectives; surveying the reefs and implementing local environmental initiatives to protect the oceans and coastline.

Volunteers assist with several projects on Koh Tao. Each day is different but may include:

Research activities

  • Ecological monitoring surveys and data collection
  • Coral spawning and culturing
  • Invasive species and threats research
  • Drupella Snail
  • Crown of thorns
  • Coral bleaching and other coral diseases
  • Seahorse research and observation

Reef restoration and protection activities

  • Mooring line installation and maintenance
  • Artificial reef construction, installation and maintenance
  • Giant clam nurseries
  • Juvenile sea turtle nursery
  • Coral nursery
  • Clean-ups – land and underwater

Awareness and Campaigns

  • Annual community conservation festival (usually in June)
  • Teaching local children to dive
  • Leading educational talks

Diving

In order to assist with the conservation work you will need to have at least your SSI Open Water and Advanced Adventurer qualification or equivalent. If you do not have these you will complete these course in the first few days of your placement. If you have them already, you can get stuck in with the conservation work straight away.

SSI (Scuba Schools International) is an internationally recognised dive standard equivalent to PADI.

During your placement you will also obtain Conservation Diver certifications. For volunteers staying 3 weeks or more, the project includes an Ecological Monitoring Project Certification.

Working days and hours

You will participate in the project from Monday - Friday with weekends off to relax and explore, there is lots to do in your free time. The day is usually 9am - 5pm however this can vary depending on the activity.

Long-term interns

The project accepts a small number of long-term research interns, this is ideal for volunteers looking to complete a university thesis / dissertation whilst working at a conservation initiative. Internships are generally 8-12 weeks + and have a slightly different structure. If this is of interest, we can provide more detailed information once we have received your application - please include this preference clearly in your application form.

Other volunteers

There are usually 5-15 volunteers with a maximum of 25. This varies considerably throughout the year and there will are larger teams in July and August. Volunteers work alongside full time staff and long term research interns.

Duke of Edinburgh’s (DofE) Award

This placement has been approved by the DofE as meeting the requirements for the Residential section of the Gold Award, including a minimum number of other participants.

Volunteer Reviews

Read about volunteer experiences and challenges in our Thailand Marine Conservation reviews.

Why are volunteers needed?

Coral Reefs cover less than 2% of the ocean floor but support 25% of all marine life. They are the most biologically diverse ecosystems on earth, but also one of the most threatened. Research is the only way to get a true idea of what the problems are and what needs to be done to alleviate them.

Research and restoration activities are labour intensive and as such volunteers are a valuable addition to the team. Volunteers can contribute a great deal to the ongoing research by collecting data that would otherwise be too difficult to collect. In addition to this, volunteers with an interest or experience in conservation can bring a new perspective to research.

“Students are the lifeblood of our program. They help us complete the day to day tasks, achieve success in our projects and initiatives. Over the years our program has evolved incredibly, and a lot of the progress can be attributed to the enthusiastic and determined people that we have had the pleasure of hosting. Volunteers are truly what make our program a success”
Chad, Marine Biologist

Closure dates

This project is closed between mid Oct - mid Dec.

Location, free time and accommodation

Thailand

Thailand is often referred to as the ‘land of smiles’ and is a huge attraction for travellers from around the world due to its glorious beaches, tropical climate, great food and fascinating culture. Thailand has something to offer everyone and popular activities include:

  • Visiting the tranquil mountains in the North
  • Idyllic beaches on the Southern islands
  • The bustling modern city of Bangkok

To find out more, see the Lonely Planet Thailand

Local area and free time

Koh Tao is a dramatic mix of dense jungle and hilly terrain in its interior, and granite outcrops and beaches along its coast. The island is one of a number on the south east coast of Thailand which are popular destinations for travellers, including Koh Phangan and Koh Samui. It has become best known for the abundance of excellent dive sites nearby. It is a simple, friendly and fun island with an atmosphere that means people usually stay a lot longer than intended!

There are plenty of bars and restaurants on the island, giving you a good choice for eating and going out. There are also many activities you can get involved in such Muay Thai (kick-boxing), hiking, rock-climbing and Thai cooking. These activities are best booked locally.

The dive school has yoga classes available onsite for a small additional cost. Many volunteers choose to join the evening class after they have finished their conservation work.

Volunteers live on the south side of the island on a beautiful bay; the south is relaxed with friendly cafes, restaurants and shops in walking distance.

Accommodation

You will have your own ensuite room just a few minutes’ walk from the dive school – some rooms are owned by the dive schools and others are in neighbouring hotels. The rooms are in a great location, just minutes from the beach! There is WIFI available at the dive school.

Read volunteer reviews from the Marine Conservation project

Rachel

“Volunteering was one of the best experiences of my life. The team were very sportive and always managed to make even the boring tasks such as data entry fun! Conservation diving is so much more rewarding than the usual fun dives you can do as a tourist, you learn not only about the reef ecosystem but also how to respect it while diving and snorkelling and how to protect it from the everyday things we do on land that are causing huge problems for the oceans.

I made so many friends during my time at this project, it was invaluable to my future studies, career and helped me to develop as a person and a scientist in ways I had not even thought about before joining the course. Most rewarding was seeing how the artificial reef structures we were working on develop and grow during my time and also seeing the improvement in my own learning about identification of various species of marine organisms.”

Aaron

“The whole experience was amazing and has made diving much more enjoyable as I know so much more about what I am looking at while diving. Just go do this project in one of the best diving location in the world! The people working on the project are passionate and it is hard to not feel motivated to affect change that they are working against.

The program surprised me with its size and future planning. They have creative artificial reefs and their outreach to the local youth I believe will pay off. Most rewarding was the work I did could help contribute to Koh Tao’s reefs which are amazing but impacted and needing our help. It is the people caring about doing this work. Just amazing!”

Andrew

“They are the most knowledgeable and passionate people you could hope to meet; the leaders, the interns, everyone…I loved it all. The placement is to help them supervise their area. After your test surveys, record actual data. There are so many things that need to be done. You won’t get bored! You dive you have a purpose you get it done. It is amazing and different but it is not pleasure diving.

The morning lectures were great, followed by the one dive a day. Most days finished about 3 to 4 pm leaving good time to enjoy the sun and the area. Chalok bay is the ultimate Thai retreat area. Thank you to everyone in the Marine Conservation team! My time there was too short. I could have stayed longer. I’d do it again without question!”

Kellie

“The placement was everything I hoped for and more. It was a great project and place made complete by the caring, knowledgeable and passionate team at the Marine Conservation project. The experience at the Marine Conservation project is brilliant. It taught me so much about marine life, ecology, surveying methods and conservation methods. I was involved in many different projects including caring for baby turtles they are rearing in a nursery

The daily lectures we received were engaging and informative. We got a lot done on every dive, but with any spare air you were taken to see other reef areas. It was the perfect balance to between work and play, but what made the experience for me were the passionate, patient, helpful and intelligent team which work or are interns on the project. I wish there were more people this driven to make a difference to restore the reefs and protect the life they support!”

Read more reviews

What's Included?

Before you go:

  • Carefully selected and vetted volunteer project
  • Support from our friendly and highly experienced Pod UK team
  • Single point of contact - Ellie is your dedicated Pod Volunteer Specialist
  • In-depth volunteering and planning your trip guides
  • Travel information - visa, health and safety advice
  • Access to specialist travel insurance at exclusive rates
  • Recommended travel agency for flights and tours
  • Access to special deals and resources
  • Fundraising guide and support
  • Financial protection for monies paid to Pod

On your placement:

  • Conservation volunteering placement
  • Accommodation - your own room
  • Induction and conservation training
  • All dives
  • SSI Open Water + Advanced dive courses (unless you are already SSI/PADI Advanced or equivalent)
  • Scuba review (if you have a dive qualification but haven’t dived recently)
  • Conservation Diver certification (two specialities)
  • Conservation course - Ecological monitoring (for volunteers staying 3 weeks+)
  • Use of all dive equipment
  • Onsite support from local team
  • Support from Pod UK office by phone and email
  • 24/7 emergency back up
  • Incident Management and Emergency Response Plans

On your return:

  • Contact from your Pod Volunteer Specialist
  • Feedback scheme
  • Volunteering certificate (on request)
  • References (on request)
  • Member of the Pod community

Not included: Flights, travel insurance, visa (if required), food. Budgeting guidance is provided in our Volunteering Guide which we will email you when you apply.

Pod Volunteer is run as a non-profit organisation. Fee levels are set to match costs and any surplus monies are distributed to the projects we work with via the Pod Charity.
Price table
1 week (available to Advanced level divers) £795 GB Pounds
2 weeks £1145 GB Pounds
Extra weeks £275 GB Pounds
+ Open Water Course - Additional cost, required for all beginner divers £235 GB Pounds
+ Advanced Course - Additional cost, required for all beginner divers and open water level divers £195 GB Pounds
Apply

Fees in currencies other than GBP are indicative only and volunteers are invoiced in GBP. For current exchange rates please see www.xe.com

Discounts - of £25 per week for friends / partners sharing a room

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artificial reefs deployed

"Pod is a no nonsense volunteer organisation looking to change lives"Cian

Ellie

Pod UK Specialist

Ellie has visited the project, apply and you'll hear from her soon!

We look forward to receiving your application! There is no commitment by applying and we will send more information.

Apply

VOLUNTEER REVIEWS

  • Thailand Marine Conservation volunteer - Laura

    “This placement has changed the way I dive, I am so much more aware of what is happening to the reefs and have a much better knowledge now of underwater life that a hobby that I have always loved has become even better.”

    Read more volunteer reviews
  • Thailand Marine Conservation volunteer - Luke

    "The most rewarding thing for me was to see the marine animals using the artificial reefs we were creating and knowing that what you're doing will benefit the reef and the island. You'll grow as a person and a diver, and make some good friends along the way."

    Read more volunteer reviews
  • Thailand Marine Conservation volunteer - Maurizio

    “You volunteer with smart, dedicated people who are eager to learn about the island’s truly amazing marine ecosystems and to contribute to the ongoing projects aimed at research, maintenance and protection of the reefs.”

    Read more volunteer reviews

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AWARDS AND ACCREDITATIONS

  • Tourism Concern
  • Association of Bonded Travel Organisers Trust
  • Right Tourism
  • DOFE
  • theguardian
  • the independent
  • Sunday Times
  • Year Out Group
  • Best Volunteering Organisation
  • Wall Street Journal