Coral Reef Research and Coastal Conservation in Thailand

Travel to Thailand with GVI to make a contribution to coral reef research in the Indian Ocean


Program Information

Join us in Thailand to conduct coral reef research in the warm waters of the Indian Ocean, as well as contributing to other locally based conservation projects. Participants will take part in a training program and gain in-depth knowledge into the research and conservation of marine and coastal species and environments. You can put this knowledge to work when you join a team to compile crucial research on tropical coral reefs and marine species. Assist in making a contribution to UN Sustainable Development Goal #14, Life Below Water.

United Nations Sustainable Development Goals

Overview

Travel to the stunning coastal province of Phang Nga to assist in the conservation of its coastal and marine ecosystems as a hands-on member of an international team.
Immerse yourself in the Thai culture by getting involved in community initiatives to promote environmental education.You will gain a holistic insight into the conservation issues facing the region and you will be able to contribute to the measures GVI teams are taking in response.

The program  consists of conducting coral reef research and various other marine conservation efforts, including working with green sea turtles at our partner head-start centres. Your participation in marine research will contribute towards providing data to citizen science based conservation organisations, as well as contributing to conservation and education in the local area.

Highlights:
- Learn how to identify coral and fish species in the Indian Ocean
- Conduct snorkelling surveys to monitor local reefs
- Learn new coral reef research techniques
- Experience the cultural aspects of the Thai lifestyle
- Working with green sea turtles at our partner head-start centres
- Contribute to UN Sustainable Development Goal #14, Life Below Water

Testimonial

I had a brilliant time, the staff were really friendly and welcoming and I loved all the activities. There was so much variety and a lot to learn - I would definitely go back. This experience has made me change my career to what I love and I’m currently now looking for marine research/science work throughout the world. The GVI experience has made me reconsider what I want from life.
- Lynsey Wheater (UK)

Program Details

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Project Life

Throughout your stay in Thailand the various projects you participate in will depend on the needs on the ground and the time of the year. From November to March we get involved in coral reef research, alongside our year round sea turtle research and conservation. We also travel once a month to two remote local islands where we are conducting camera trapping research, depending on the timing of your trip you may be part of this.

From November to March:
Depending on weather conditions, we aim to have 1 or 2 snorkel surveys each week. Prior to taking part in all activities you will complete extensive training to prepare you for the work you will be conducting.

Training includes:
- Coral reef research techniques
- Coral and fish identification
- Conservation issues facing Thailand
- Sea turtle ecology and conservation
- Using camera traps for research

The rainy season of April to October sees more terrestrial and community work such as mangrove research and planting, biodiversity surveying in nearby National Parks and environmental education. There will be no snorkelling surveys from April - October.

Weekends will be yours to explore the beautiful coastline of Phang Nga.

Accomodation
Accommodation will be small but comfortable with shared facilities, with enough space for people. If you would prefer to stay in private accommodation while in Thailand, this location does offer upgrades.

Project Details

The goal of the program is to contribute to marine and coastal conservation through research, education and practical conservation activities. You can expect to be involved in conducting coral reef research using snorkelling survey methods; environmental education at local schools; and research and husbandry at local sea turtle head-start centres.

Please note that you will not be doing any diving, while conducting these surveys.

You will gain a thorough understanding of coral reef ecosystems and the conservation issues facing them, and you will be collecting data using scientifically approved methods to contribute to coral reef research. You will have the opportunity to learn about Indian Ocean reef species and ecosystems.

You will be working at local turtle conservation centres, where green sea turtle hatchlings are reared to a size that they have a better chance of surviving to breeding age. At these centres you will be involved in cleaning tanks, treating turtles for infections and researching the benefits of enclosure enrichment.

The long-term conservation of marine and terrestrial ecosystems in Phang Nga is formed on a three-tiered approach:
1. Contribute to scientific understanding through research
2. Educate and inform local people about conservation issues
3. Building the capacity and desire of local people to operate sustainably

Depending on the needs of our partners and the specific season, typical activities will include:
- Coral reef monitoring and research
- General husbandry and research at sea turtle conservation centres
- Terrestrial work like mangrove research and planting, and biodiversity surveying
- Teaching environmental education at a local school
- Beach cleans
- Once a month visiting remote local islands to conduct camera surveys

How this project makes a difference
Your presence as a volunteer in Thailand will help protect some of the world’s most beautiful beaches and coral reef systems, as well as contributing to conservation efforts for green sea turtles. We are educating the community on local environmental issues, dealing with the social and economic pressures that lead to the destruction of reefs, fish, coral and turtle populations. All the data gathered on project is is used by our local partner organisations in Thailand and selected citizen science projects. When setting and creating new management policies our data helps contribute to the overall health of the local coral reefs and ecosystem.

Phang Nga's short, mid, and long-term objectives
All of our programs have short, mid and long-term objectives that fit with the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals. This enables us to report on our collaborative impact across the world in a streamlined manner, measuring which UN SDGs we are making a substantial contribution to. Furthermore, this will help our local partners and communities measure and visualize their contribution to the UN SDGs.

Upon arrival to base, you will be educated about the history of the UN SDGs. You will learn about the specific goals of your location, the long-, mid- and short-term objectives, and also clarification of how your personal, shorter-term involvement contributes to these goals on a global level.

Our aim is to educate you on local and global issues, so that you continue to act as active global citizens after your program, helping to fulfil our mission of building a global network of people united by their passion to make a difference.

Learn about the long-term objectives you will be contributing to in Phang Nga:
- To provide equal, quality education to children of all backgrounds.
- To Promote Good Health and Wellbeing through education to all children.
- Increase skills for local people to assist with equal employment opportunities in our communities within Takuapa and Ban Nham Khem.
- Increase awareness of local populations to environmental issues and facilitate change towards sustainability through scientific studies.
- Increase our in-country capacity by providing environmental and conservation education and training.
- To assist and develop local coastal conservation efforts through providing practical support to project partners, data collection, awareness raising and habitat restoration.

What's Included

  • 24-hour emergency phone
  • 24-hour in-country support
  • Access to Alumni Services and Discounts
  • Airport pick-up (unless otherwise stated)
  • All necessary project equipment and materials
  • All necessary project training by experienced staff
  • Location orientation
  • Long term experienced staff
  • Meals while on project (except on work placements for long term internships)
  • Safe and basic accommodations (usually shared)
  • Welcome meeting

What's Not Included

  • Additional drinks and gratuities
  • Extra local excursions
  • Flights
  • International and domestic airport taxes
  • Medical and travel insurance
  • Personal kit
  • Police or background check (where necessary)
  • Visa costs

Exploration

Participating with GVI not only allows you to participate on programs assisting disadvantaged communities or endangered ecosystems but it also offers wonderful opportunities to travel in the local area in your down time or further afield, either before or after your program. Below is some information on trips and travel options in Thailand.

Optional Side Trips
Take advantage of the amazing sites and scenery the Andaman region of Thailand has to offer. There are endless opportunities to visit islands, beaches, parks and caves and many can be done on weekends. While on the ground, we are here to help so make sure to ask our field staff to assist you with planning trips.

Explore the amazing Khao Sok National Park, including the stunning Cheow Larn Lake and 740km² of rainforest and which is home to elephants, leopards, tigers, deer, monkeys, lizards, birds, and the Rafflesia  - the largest flowers in the world, 90cm across with a unique aroma…of rotting flesh! Take a day trip for a quick sample of the park’s delights or stay overnight and discover even more – perhaps in one of the jungle tree houses, or even on a bungalow that floats on the lake. Trek through the jungle, kayak around Cheow Larn lake visiting spectacular limestone caves, swim in idyllic waterfalls or just relax and see what you can spot!

Khao Lak is a very popular tourist spot close by, with beautiful, seemingly endless beaches, so many dining options you’ll be spoilt for choice and hundreds of spas offering massages and treatments at reasonable rates. With a wide range of accommodation options, from luxury resorts to hostels, Khao Lak offers you the chance to spoil yourself for a few days, whether you’re on a budget or looking to splurge a little.

The Similan and Surin Island groups, both under the protection of their Marine National Park status, are home to some of the best diving and snorkelling spots in the region. You can take a day trip, stay on a live aboard boat or even stay overnight on the islands themselves.

Phuket Island, about 90 mins south of Khao Lak and renowned for its colourful nightlife is also a great stop-off for divers and snorkelers, but if you’re not the diving type you can explore Phang Nga Bay by speedboat or sea kayak, stopping off at James Bond Island, made famous by the 1974 film ‘The Man With the Golden Gun’ before visiting the floating Sea Gypsy village. Phuket is also very popular with surfers, playing host to annual surfing competitions, though there is a great ‘secret spot’ near Khao Lak…if you’re interested GVI staff will show you the way!

Neighbouring Krabi Province is a treasure trove for intrepid travellers; from the crystal clear Emerald Pond to the epic 1,237-step climb up to the Buddha image and stunning views at the Tiger Temple Cave to the enchanted scenery and pools of Than Bok Khoranee National Park to the shopping and late night bars of Ao Nang to the chilled out beaches of Koh Lanta Island to the parties of Phi Phi, where ‘The Beach’ was filmed - the options are truly endless!

Further Travelling Opportunities
Thailand is a country with a whole range of fantastic places that you could visit. If you have the time and budget, you could consider going to see the following; the waterfalls of the picturesque Khao Yai National Park, the mountain town of Chiang Mai, the local tribes of Nam Province, the beaches of Ko Tao and Mu Ko Chang Marine National Park, the golden kingdom of Ayuthaya, the temples and nightlife of Bangkok and many more…

The Team

Molly Plexico

Country Director
Meet Molly, our hard working country director for both Thailand and Laos. Over seeing operations in two countries is no easy task but Molly is more than capable.

She started volunteering and travelling at a young age, working  in soup kitchens, with AmeriCorps, at animal shelters, as a Big Sister with Big Brother Big Sisters of America and as a Guardian ad Litem. She studied family development and psychology and loves to dance.

Her goal is to visit one country for every year she is alive. The most unusual place she has travelled to is Uzbekistan, on a trip beginning in Europe and ending in Southeast Asia. This is where she fell in love with Laos which began her journey with GVI. She started working for GVI back in 2012 and she is now based in Thailand. GVI has hubs all around the world and she has been lucky enough to visit the hubs in Nepal, Thailand, Laos and the office in South Africa.

Kathryn Woodroffe

Conservation project coordinator
Meet Katie, our brilliant conservation project coordinator in Phang Nga, Thailand. She is experienced in environmental education, working within zoos and outreach programmes in the UK, teaching a huge range, from pre-school children through to university students.

From a young age she travelled to many unique and culturally diverse places with her family.

During her short term internship with GVI, at Jalova Biological Research Station, she developed and advanced her surveying, research and project development skills whilst working in one of the most biodiverse regions in the world. 

Her must bring travel item is her trusty camera; "There is not a day that goes by where I don't encounter a moment that I want to capture, especially when exploring the worlds natural beauty."

Dora Szabados

Base Manager
Meet Dora, our insightful base manager in Phang Nga, Thailand. She has spent much of her life traveling, studying and volunteering all over the world. She grew up in China but felt the need to explore the world. She's lived in many different countries such as Egypt, Japan and the Phillippines,saying that she's not one to stay in one place for very long. She's also explored most of Europe an the west of the USA.

She has a BA in international relations focusing on the continents of Africa and Asia. She's also a certified, open water NAU diver.

Her favourite thing about working for GVI is how every day is different and how meeting so many new people has taught her so much about herself. She's a real life traveller and we're lucky to have her on board.

Shayle Havemann

Director of Programs
Meet Shayle, our innovative and driven director for all our projects around the world. She has two honours degrees, one in Industrial and Organisational Psycology, and another in Developmental and Education Psycology. Shayle also has over 10 years experience in setting up, managing and evaluating environmental and community programs across Africa, Asia, Europe and Latin America.

She is well-practiced in facilitating meaningful and effective intercultural engagement and this makes her the perfect person for overseeing our operations in the multicultural country of South Africa.

When not attending meetings or planning her next endeavour, Shayle can be found spending time with her family or taking part in some or other exciting outdoors activity!

Caroline Van Der Does De Willebois

Service Learning Manager Thailand

A conservationist and adventurer at heart with a passion for sustainable development and marine conservation. Caroline has a Master's degree in International Development and past experience working with the UN’s Food and Agriculture Organisation, educational marine conservation with the Marine Megafauna Foundation in Mozambique, and dive instructing in Thailand.



Caroline believes that GVI's combination of conservation and community development projects helps us to reach a true and sustainable impact in the field.



Her travels have taken her all over the world, but she is grateful to have returned to Thailand to join the GVI family and support and train others to have the best possible Service Learning experience!

Jill Walker

Assistant Director of Programs
Meet Jill, our Assistant Director of Programs and line manager for Thailand, Laos, India, Nepal, Australia and Kenya programs. ‘Manow’ (lime), as she’s locally known in Thailand where she's based, taught English, environmental education and art in the USA and Thailand before joining us to set up a TEFL and Community Development Expedition. “I haven’t looked back since!”


When Jill isn’t working, she likes reading or doing just about anything energetic. “I devour books, love cooking and enjoy finding some time to get some exercise – yoga, dancing and aerobics are some of my faves.”


What does Jill like most about her job? “It’s great to see volunteers rising above the cultural and language barriers between themselves and the communities. That, and every day is completely different, which is the way I like it- it keeps me from getting bored.” Being ‘allergic’ to being bored has led to Manow doing some pretty amazing things. “I once ended up spending a week living in a cave with some Buddhist monks while I helped them build a small adobe monk hut.”

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