Get your PADI Advanced Open Water and PADI Reef Ecosystem Diver (RESD) Specialty qualifications while working on critical marine conservation projects. Your research will contribute towards providing data to the local government on various conservation initiatives. Partnerships like these highlight the connection between social, environmental issues, and community development in the islands.
Travel to the crystal clear waters of the Indian Ocean as a member of an expedition and work on critical marine conservation projects amongst the beautiful islands of Seychelles.
You will contribute towards various conservation-related surveys aimed at providing data to the Seychelles Parks and Gardens Authority (formerly Seychelles National Marine Park Authority – SNPA) and local government on coral reef, fish and invertebrate research and assist with the development of environmental education awareness. You might also undertake marine plastic pollution cleanups both on the land around the base, our neighbouring beaches and across our adopted dive sites.
You’ll spend a large part of your time on this expedition scuba-diving and as such you need to be qualified to at least PADI Open Water or equivalent before joining the program. For non-divers wishing to attend, we can recommend local dive centres that will help you qualify before your intended start date. You can also receive the PADI Reef Ecosystem Diver (RESD) Specialty segment of the PADI Divemaster course. This unique offering by GVI and PADI teaches you about best practices when conducting underwater coral reef surveys. This is offered to participants staying for longer than two weeks on the program.
Explore the open seas while you learn how to identify fish, coral and invertebrates as part of a research team conducting daily coral reef surveys.
Explore dive sites among the tropical islands of Seychelles and experience incredible local marine megafauna like turtles, sharks, rays and dolphins.
Contribute to ongoing environmental projects that address critical challenges aligned to the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals.
Collaborate with local conservation partners and qualified professionals to ensure your efforts are ethical, meaningful and sustainable.
Venture outside typical travel itineraries to get exclusive access to extraordinary remote habitats, rare species and unique ecosystems.
Share epic experiences with like-minded changemakers from all over the globe, sharing adventures and working together to protect our planet.
With expert local staff and 24/7 support every step of the way, you can relax and have a stress-free travel experience.
Unplug from the digital world, recharge in nature, and rediscover your purpose for a mindful mental health break.
Some of the example typical activities you could participate in on this program.
Identify species and conduct surveys that contribute to data collection efforts and help build an inventory of marine species in Seychelles.
Help monitor coral reefs, assess bleaching, coral growth, and engage in invertebrate, fish, seagrass, shark and megafauna surveys.
Assist with tasks as needed, like seagrass monitoring, marine megafauna sightings, beach cleans, and data entry into citizen science databases.
Expand your diving skills with various adventure dives, including deep water, navigation, buoyancy, naturalist, search and boat diving.
Learn primary and secondary care theory, practise skills in role-play scenarios to enhance your first aid knowledge and prepare for emergencies.
Take the exclusive GVI PADI Reef Ecosystem Diver (RESD) Specialty, advancing conservation diving skills and mastering coral reef surveys.
Increase your diver safety knowledge , handle complex situations, practise direct intervention in role-play rescue scenarios (programs > 8 weeks).
Some of the partners we work with on base.
|Safe and basic accommodation (usually shared)|
|Airport pick-up (unless otherwise stated)|
|All project equipment|
|24-hour in-country support from local staff|
|24-hour emergency desks|
|Group introductory call|
|Endorsed GVI Specialisation Course|
|Endorsed Leadership Course|
|Sustainable project work|
|Data collection and research|
|Real projects with partners|
|Weekly group check ins|
|Remote Academic Internship Supervisor|
|Remote Career Internship Supervisor|
|Preferential recruitment on GVI positions|
|Job portal access|
|Endorsed Careers Course|
|Career coaching sessions|
Certificates and achievements
|PDF reference - upon request|
|Linkedin reference and skills endorsement|
|Additional drinks and gratuities|
|Extra local excursions|
|International and domestic airport taxes|
|Medical and travel insurance|
|Personal items and toiletries|
|Police or background check|
A short three-minute walk from the beach, our base in Baie Ternay Marine National Park is located in a picturesque location with tropical weather. With a thirty-minute walk to the nearest village and shop, our base is in a protected and secluded area. It almost feels like we have a private beach all to ourselves (the road ends at the base). The variety of marine life makes this an amazing location – you can see a plethora of life around the island and in the sea.
Originally a school, the building has been transformed into an environmentally aware research base with classrooms for presentations, a library containing marine identification books and resources, and a recreation room to relax in after a day of diving. There are also giant hammocks (for more relaxation) and a large grassy area for volleyball. We also have party and BBQ themed nights, and enjoy film and documentary nights in the rec room cinema. Outside in the seating area, participants like to sit and play cards, or just enjoy the weather. Life on base is much like a big family and we share cooking, cleaning, and dive operation duties on a rotation basis.
Those who’ve completed their intensive survey and dive training can look forward to short boat trips to the dive sites. Depending on the weather conditions and schedule for the week, dives take place once or twice daily, five days a week. On other days, you’ll either conduct marine debris surveys or environmental education sessions including awareness raising with the local community members, depending on the needs of the project at the time. Staff will often deliver presentations throughout the week, with study time included in the daily schedule. Days start early, with boat preparations or training, and end with dinner, followed by an evening debrief where we share with the group all the exciting things we have seen, and go through the schedule for the next day. After this, it’s time to relax, take in the beautiful sunset, and share stories. There are also a number of base dogs (who love lots of attention) to keep you company.
Being an eco-minded base, there is a recycling area on base, and planters for growing local endemic plant species, which utilise the harvested rainwater. It’s great when participants bring their own ideas and get involved with more eco-friendly practices, such as ecobricking and non-recycling storage methods.
See what it’s like to live off the beaten track! You’ll sleep in dorm rooms of up to eight people. The gender-separated bathrooms are shared, with showers and flush toilets. The...
We provide transfers from the airport to our base in Baie Ternay National Park, which is about an hour’s drive. The beach is very close to our accommodation so we simply walk do...
We are based in a protected natural reserve, which means that mobile signal doesn’t cover the entire area. There are spots with good phone coverage and we have a phone on base f...
Sample the many flavours of Seychellois cuisine, from fresh coconut water sipped out of the fruit to green papaya salad. All food is provided by GVI and prepared by participants...
The Seychelles has an equatorial climate, which means sunshine and warm water all year round, with temperatures averaging 26ºC – 30ºC (79ºF – 86ºF). Tropical rainfal...
We want you to make the most of the chance to live in – and contribute towards – the most diverse and unique wildernesses and communities on earth. Introducing GVI Experiences – immersive adventure, cultural and wellness activities exclusive to GVI that have been specially designed in collaboration with our local partners to support and stimulate sustainable economic development.
Enhance your impact. Expand your adventure. Explore your world.
Joining a GVI program not only allows you to collaborate with communities or work toward preserving unique ecosystems – but it also offers plenty of opportunities to explore the surrounding area or travel further to see what other parts of the region have to offer over weekends.
Field staff are a great source of advice and have helped us put together the following information on local travel options. You can choose to travel before or after your experience with GVI (subject to immigration restrictions), solidifying the lifetime friendships you’ve established on the program. Please note that the below options are not included in the program fee, and would be up to you to arrange at your own expense.
The rum distillery at Pointe Au Sel is a popular destination for volunteers to visit. There’s also a tea plantation and local handicraft village ...
The capital of the Seychelles, Victoria (one of the smallest capital cities in the world) is only an hour away from our base in Baie Ternay Marin...
The most popular tourist spot on the main island of the Seychelles, Beau Vallon offers a massive stretch of beach, lined with shops and restauran...
Other than diving, there are many other water sports in the Seychelles, like surfing, kayaking, sailing and snorkeling. And of course, there̵...
Cap Matoopa is the highest point next to our base, and offers spectacular views of Cap Ternay Bay. Climb the jungle-encrusted granite rocks to th...
The dives we conduct on the project have a strict research focus. There are, however, plenty of opportunities to go for a recreational dive in yo...
The inner islands of the Seychelles, where you will be staying while on this project, are made of granite, which means there are many opportuniti...
From the capital of Victoria, you can catch a ferry to many of the other inner islands, like Praslin, La Digue, Silhouette, Felicity and Sister. ...
Engaging intimately with a new context teaches global awareness, adaptability and critical thinking – skills highly valued in the modern marketplace. Local and cultural immersion is encouraged on all our programs around the world, and will also be one of the most enjoyable aspects of your experience. Luckily, there are many different activities that you can get involved in during your free time, or before and after your program.
On our community programs, the focus is on cultural topics, while on marine or wildlife programs the emphasis is more on the environmental element. Use your evenings and weekends to explore topics like local cuisine and religion, or how sustainable development challenges are affecting local contexts.
GVI’s marine conservation program in the Seychelles is based on the main island of Mahe – the largest granitic island in the Seychelles, surround...
The Seychelles is a tropical archipelago off the east coast of Africa, consisting of over 100 islands. The islands located near the center of the...
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If you’d like to find out what the experience of joining a GVI project is really like, simply contact us and we’ll put you in touch with one of our many Alumni.
We’ll try to match you to an Alum based on your location, nationality, age, stage of academic career, gender, and program interests. This allows you to gain insights into the experience that is most relevant to you.
Depending on your location you might be able to speak to an Alum over the phone or online, or meet up with them face-to-face at a coffee shop nearby. We also run a series of small events around the world where you can speak to GVI Alumni, Ambassadors and staff members.
This is Jasmine, also known as Jazzy, our wonderful Program Manager at the GVI base on Mahe Island, Seychelles. Jazzy grew up with a keen interest in conservation which lead her ...
‘If only every student could do this. It changes your life in all the right ways,’ says Chris Heritage, parent of Luke Heritage, one of our teen volunteers who has participated on two GVI programs, one in Costa Rica and another in South Africa.
We are a parent-run organisation that is incredibly serious about health and safety, and increasing the impact, as well as the long-term career benefits of our programs. Our programs help young people develop the skills to select a career path that is personally fulfilling, and live a life aligned to the well-being of our planet and the global community.
GVI is a proud member of the Gap Year Association.
Ken and Linda Jeffrey, whose son Sam volunteered with GVI in Thailand, talk about how the experience affected Sam. He also went on to volunteer with GVI again in South Africa. ‘I know it sounds like a cliche but in a sense, he did go away as a boy and he came back as a young man. Both of us could recommend GVI without any hesitation to any other parent thinking about exploring an opportunity for their children to explore the world and to see different parts of it.’
Download the Parent Pack and learn more about:
Our staff: All our projects are run by staff, selected, vetted, trained, and managed by our central office.
Health and safety: Our safety practices include a child and vulnerable adult protection policy and high participant ratios.
Staying in touch: See what’s happening on base, by following a hub’s dedicated Facebook page.
Free parent consultations: We would love to talk to you about exciting opportunities available for your child.
When it comes to support, we ensure that each participant is provided with unparalleled, 360 degree support, from your initial contact with the GVI Family, all the way through your program, and even after, as you become part of the GVI Alumni Team.
As part of this promise, we will ensure, whenever possible, that one of our dedicated staff will be available to meet you at the airport. In most locations, we also set up a Whatsapp group to help with managing airport arrivals.
We will arrange with you prior to your departure that, should you arrive in the agreed upon pick up window, a member of our staff will be there to welcome you, easily identifiable in a GVI t-shirt or holding a GVI sign and wearing a friendly smile.
This means there will be someone there to greet you as you land, and from there you will be transported to your GVI base to start your adventure and meet the rest of your team.
All of our programs have short-, mid- and long-term objectives that align with the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (UN SDGs). 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 visualise their contribution to the UN SDGs.
Prior to your arrival on base, you will be educated about the UN SDGs. Then once you arrive on base, you’ll learn about the specific goals we have in this particular location, our various objectives, and also clarification of how your personal, shorter-term involvement contributes to these.
Our aim is to educate you on local and global issues, so that you continue to be an active global citizen after your program, helping to fulfil our mission of building a global network of people united by their passion to make a difference.
Below is a list of core ethics and best practices we believe are essential to the operation of high quality, ethical volunteer and sustainable development programs. We believe that all responsible volunteer and sustainable development operations should focus upon these principles. If you are considering volunteering, these are some of the key considerations you should question, to ensure that your time and money contributes towards positive change.
We want to constantly develop our own understanding of ethical best practice. In so doing, we aim to provide an exemplary industry standard for other education institutions, international development organisations, and social enterprises. Our Badge of Ethics stands for the drive to always do good, better. Find out more, click on the Badge below.
We aim to design all our projects in collaboration with local organizations and communities and ensure that they are locally driven.
We aim to clearly define short-, mid-, and long-term objectives with sustainable outcomes for all our projects.
We aim to track, record, and publish the impact of each of our projects.
We aim to build in-country capacity by assisting local organizations in becoming self-sustaining.
For each local organization we work with, we aim to have a plan in place for withdrawing support responsibly.
We aim to ensure that every participant is assigned a clear role and that they are fully trained and supported to carry out their work by specialized staff.
In all our actions we aim to respect the skills and efforts of all and seek to protect the rights, culture and dignity of everyone who engages with GVI.
We work to ensure that credit for the results of any project, along with any data collected, research conducted, or Intellectual Property developed, remains the property of local organizations.
We do not condone and aim to withdraw support of orphanages and residential care centers.
We will live by our Child Protection and Vulnerable Adult policies.
As an organization, GVI is committed to striving toward best practice, and to educating both our potential participants, our partners, and the world at large about them. Both the volunteering and sustainable development sectors are increasingly, and rightly, under scrutiny. Many recent local and global articles highlight poor practices and questionable ethics. GVI is widely recognized for striving to apply global best practice in the volunteering, education and sustainable development sectors throughout our operations by reputable organizations such as ChildSafe.
However, global best practice is always evolving and we dedicate both time and resources to engage with internationally respected experts and learn from the latest research to ensure our programs both fulfil their potential to create maximum positive impact, and minimise their potential to create unintentional negative impact. Along with and as part of the sustainable development and volunteering community, we are constantly learning and applying this learning to practice. We do not always get everything right, but we seek feedback from our community members, partners, participants and our staff, and react accordingly. We know are already doing a great job, and feedback we have received confirms this, but we aim to do even better and are continuously refining our operations to improve upon our already excellent reputation.
We don’t support or allow participants to work in institutional residential care facilities, also known as orphanages. We partner with ReThink Orphanages and Freedom United.
Our Child and Vulnerable Adult Protection Policy requires all our staff and participants to complete a criminal background check and to learn why you shouldn’t reveal a child’s identifying factors in photographs. We support the ChildSafe Movement.
We don’t offer any programs where our participants engage in medical treatment. This is because our participants aren’t typically qualified to do this work and would therefore not be able to do this work in their home country. Our participants only assist with public health programs.
We don’t offer any programs where our participants work directly with people with disabilities. This is because our participants aren’t typically qualified to do this work and would therefore not be able to do this work in their home country.
Each one of our initiatives is aligned to objectives set by a local organisation or professional. Our staff and participants work to support these local actors in achieving their specific goals.
Our participants don’t replace the staff employed by local organisations. Rather, they support currently employed staff with achieving their objectives. Our goal is always to increase local capacity to address local problems.
Participants require training and support to ensure that they carry out tasks correctly. Our staff provide this training and support so that local staff can focus on what is truly important to their organisation at the time.
We don’t support the use of wild animals for entertainment purposes. This includes riding animals, having them perform tricks, feeding or bathing them or getting close to them to take photos
We don’t encourage, support or allow the rearing of “orphaned” wild baby animals kept at a “sanctuary”. The conservation value of these types of programs is negligent and would only ethically be used in extremely rare cases
When wild animals are restricted for conservation purposes we follow the guidelines of Fair Trade in Tourism South Africa (FTTSA), approved by the Global Sustainable Tourism Council.
We ensure that the Five Freedoms of Animal Welfare are followed. These include the freedom to express normal behaviour and freedom from distress, discomfort, hunger, thirst, fear, pain, injury or disease.
We ensure that conservation efforts are also always locally led, that community needs are front-and centre of any conservation effort and that our participants, projects and partners work to increase local community engagement in local conservation efforts.
We don’t offer any veterinary programs or animal rescue and rehabilitation programs. We don’t allow participants to do any work they would not be able to do in their home country.
A GVI program is an investment in your career. No matter which you choose, you will be working toward improving your employability by mastering new social skills, gaining further technical expertise and earning qualifications in many cases. Most of our staff are, in fact, GVI Alumni, and we have helped many of our Alumni discover, move toward, and earn their own personal dream jobs. Each program includes introductory workshops, ongoing presentations, as well as on-the-ground professional support provided by our very own trained staff members. In addition, our training programs are critical for helping us to ensure the long-term impact of our sustainable development projects around the world.
Learn about the importance of child and vulnerable adult protection best practices and how to apply them while on project.
Introduction to the history and evolution of sustainable development, the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (UN SDGs) and how these related to your project work.
Learn about our country locations and further opportunities available to you during or after your program.
Learn about our empowerment principles.
An introduction to different survey techniques and best practice guidelines for surveys; introduction to different types of data and how to record information via a datasheet.
Learn about biodiversity and how biodiversity is measured, and classifying different species and how to identify species that indicate the health of the habitat.
Learn about issues with plastic and measures that can be taken to help reduce plastic consumption.
Learn about what a coral reef is, its importance, how it is formed, how this ecosystem works.
Learn about the effect of waste on the ocean and what we can do about it. It is not required training but an additional presentation offered to volunteers and interns who stay for longer and have more time available.
This is a species of starfish that is harmful to both humans and coral. You will learn how to remove these from the reef safely. It is not required training but an additional presentation offered to volunteers and interns who stay for longer and have more time available.
This is a global coral monitoring methodology all volunteers can get involved with. It is separate to our main study focus with Seychelles National Parks Authority, SNPA. It is not required training but an additional presentation offered to volunteers and interns who stay for longer and have more time available.
All volunteers are taught how to provide oxygen to divers in varying states on consciousness.
Learning how to control your buoyancy to ensure that you do not accidentally damage the reef while conducting research.
This is a distinctive specialty unique only to GVI, created in collaboration with PADI. It provides instruction on the different types of reef monitoring available, along with certain skills which are needed to ensure that you are comfortable using monitoring equipment such as tape measures and quadrats and that there is no damage done to the reef while you navigate around the site.
5 specialised dives are required to gain this qualification, those we offer include the Boat Dive, Underwater Navigation, Underwater Naturalist, Deep Diver, and Peak Performance Buoyancy. A knowledge review is also required.
Once participants are comfortable with identifying the species on site, they will be trained on the different techniques used to monitor these species underwater.
A few weeks before arrival on the base, you will be assigned to monitoring either coral, fish, or invertebrates. This includes several presentations to introduce you to the specific species.
Learn to identify different types of megafauna, larger sea creatures, you might see on a dive near Mahe. You will be asked to also monitor their numbers on your dives.
Learn what are the natural and man-made issues threatening the survival of the reefs.
Includes an explanation of what a coral reef is, its importance, how it is formed, and how this ecosystem works.
Learn which creatures pose a risk while in the water, best practices to avoid injury, and what to do if injured.
Earning a professional diving qualification, such as those offered by The Professional Association of Diving Instructors (PADI), is a necessary step for many aspiring marine biologists. All GVI marine conservation programs include training by certified dive instructors that allows participants to qualify for a range of PADI certifications including PADI Open Water, Advanced Open Water, Divemaster, Instructor, Rescue Diver and Master Scuba Diver Trainer.
The PADI RESD Specialty Course is designed to educate divers about how to correctly identify specific species associated with coral reefs (i.e. invertebrates, fish, megafauna and corals) as well as how to choose the correct method of surveying to indicate the health of the reef ecosystem over time. Focusing on the size estimations of corals and fish, as well as the abundance of all reef organisms to give a good indication of the diversity and health of the reef. Participants will also learn to improve their in-water skills (i.e. buoyancy and monitoring techniques).
The goals of the RESD Diver training are to teach how to accurately identify coral reef species and the correct monitoring procedures/methods to collect viable data to indicate the health of the reef over time. Initially educating the students on the conservation methods used to monitor local reef systems associated with human impact.