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Conservation Diving Internship: Work as a Marine Researcher and get a PADI diving certificate!

An awesome opportunity to perform conservation diving and gain practical work experience by assisting the research team at the Marine Research Station in the beautiful Perhentian Islands. This is an established project in partnership with the national Marine Parks Department, Reef Check Malaysia and with input from University Malaysia Terengganu and Plymouth University.

Your volunteer work will cover several aspects of hands-on marine biology:

Seagrass Surveys and Mapping

Conservation diving

Seagrass beds are vital feeding grounds for the sea turtles in the area. We have been conducting research on the local sea turtle population since 2015 and have made the remarkable finding that only the migrating turtles ( some from as far as Vietnam) use these feeding grounds, but the turtles that come to nest here do not. More data is needed about the location and boundaries of these seagrass beds, so that they can be mapped. You will help to carry out this important task by conducting surveys to identify the seagrass and use GPS during your swims to implement the mapping. You will work according to global standards set by Seagrass Watch to determine the percentage of cover. The research through conservation diving is also focused on understanding the epiphytes (algae) that live on the seagrass.

Assessment of Artificial Reef

Several structures were sunk on the edges of the marine park in 2013, so that new fishing grounds could be created for the local villagers. This will result in less pressure on the natural reefs where the villagers are currently. These new artificial reefs now need to be assessed for the quantity of fish and their health so that they can be opened for fishing. You will assist in carrying out the surveys to count fish and do video transects to establish the Fish Aggregating Devices (FADs).

Related Surveys

Relevant information is also being collected to better understand the impacts on the local marine environment. Depending on timing, you may get involved in collecting data on sea temperature, and water factors such as turbidity, quality, salinity, wave height and others.

All the above data is actively being used to help decision making about the protection of the coral reefs and seagrass beds in the park by the local authorities.

PADI Dive Course

turtle volunteering

Whether you are a complete beginner diver or want to upgrade your diving skills, you can do this with the help of our PADI dive centre partners. You can even do the PADI Open Water course before you travel, in the U.K. There is also the choice of Advanced or Rescue Diving courses. The daily shedule for volunteers is 1 or 2 dives in the morning and then the afternoon reserved for data input or analysis, or more diving if required. Generally, week 1 will be dedicated to research training and the following weeks will be for the marine surveys.

During your stay, you will be based in the village to gain a greater understanding of the local culture. You may also get involved in the community work with the local population such as recycling, Eco Snorkle guide training, buoyline maintenance and other activities.

If you are interested in serious conservation diving and want to spend time in a tropical paradise with the local people, then this is the ideal volunteer placement for you!


Barbara de Waard

In her non-profit Biodiversity Business, Barbara combines her lifelong experience in marketing communications with her passion for animals. Her mission is Communication for Conservation: saving endangered species and their habitats.

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