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Marine, Island and Coastal Conservation Exploration in Fiji and Thailand

Contribute to marine, coastal, and island conservation in Fiji and Thailand.

Program Code: FJYW0439M

Program Information

Travel to Fiji’s Caqalai island to contribute to marine conservation initiatives and earn your PADI Advanced Open Water and Coral Reef Speciality certificates. Then travel on to Thailand’s Phang Nga province to assist with a range of coastal and island conservation projects. Throughout your program contribute to United Nations Sustainable Development Goals, #14, Life Below Water, and #15, Life on Land. In your free time, go on recreational dives in Fiji spotting megafauna like manta rays and whale sharks and explore the tourist resort town of Phuket in the South of Thailand.  

United Nations
Sustainable Development Goals

Overview

Tropical marine, coastal, and island environments, like those in Fiji and Thailand, are known for their natural beauty and attract thousands of visitors every year. This provides economic support to nations like Fiji and Thailand. In addition, these habitats are the source of an important food source for these nations. However, both tourism and fishing need to be managed effectively to ensure that these activities do not negatively affect marine, coastal, or island habitats. By volunteering with GVI in both Fiji and Thailand, you can assist with conserving these important environments.

The program starts in Fiji with dive training. Volunteers looking to join must be PADI Open Water certified. In Fiji, volunteers will first complete species identification, and survey techniques training before going on to conducting underwater surveys that will assist local organisations with making decisions about which marine areas require additional protection.  On the second part of the program, volunteers will live in a small village in Phang Nga, working at endangered green sea turtle nurseries and conducting butterfly and bird surveys. Depending on the time of year you visit, you might also assist with monitoring elusive species on nearby tropical islands using camera traps or conducting coral surveys while snorkeling. On both programs there will also be opportunities to participate in other marine conservation initiatives like beach cleanups and conducting environmental education workshops in local communities. During the weekends, volunteers can explore the many beautiful sites Fiji and Thailand have to offer.

HIGHLIGHTS

  • Contribute to United Nations Sustainable Development Goals, #14, Life Below Water, and #15, Life on Land.

  • Earn your PADI Advanced Open Water and Coral Reef Research Speciality certificates.

  • Work to conserve precious tropical marine, coastal and island habitats.

  • Live on a secluded Fijian island while learning how to dive in the surrounding tropical waters.

  • Travel of the coast of Southern Thailand, a location popular among film-makers, due to its dramatic limestone cliffs rising out of turquoise blue waters.

Program Details

Further Program Details

FIJI

During the first part of this program, volunteers will live on the tiny tropical island of Caqalai, part of Fiji’s Lomaiviti island group, a true island paradise, only 14 acres in size. Volunteers on this program will first receive dive training before going on to learn about underwater species identification and survey methods. Dive training at the GVI Caqalai base in Fiji will allow you to earn your PADI Advanced Open Water and Coral Reef Research Diver Speciality certificates. Afterwards, you will be trained in identifying underwater invertebrates. If you choose to stay longer, you can also learn to identify coral and fish species. Finally, volunteers will learn about the different studies currently being conducted at the dive sites around the island and the techniques necessary to complete a successful survey. Depending on the weather conditions, we usually go on one or two dives and snorkels per day, five days a week. This data is shared with the communities on nearby islands, national partners like, the Fiji Locally Management Marine Area Network (FLMMA), and international partners like the Institut de Recherche pour le Développement (IRD), the Ocean Conservancy, and the Great Fiji Shark Count.

Another important part of our marine conservation work in Fiji is minimising the amount of plastic pollution in the surrounding waters. Volunteers will help us with conducting beach cleans and those who are dive-trained will assist in ocean floor cleanups.

Volunteers might also assist other GVI staff and interns with conducting environmental awareness education programs at two schools on a nearby island, Moturiki. Depending on the needs of our partners on Monuriki at the time, volunteers might also be asked to help with water security projects like constructing rainwater harvesting infrastructure or compost toilets.

The weekends will be yours to experience some of the many activities that lure thousands of tourists across the Pacific each year. You might go on a recreational dive spotting incredible underwater species, go island hopping across Fiji’s over 300 islands, or visit a traditional Fijian community to learn more about the culture.

THAILAND

In Thailand, you will be living and working in Thailand’s coastal province of Phang Nga with other GVI volunteers, interns, and staff from all around the world. Here you will work at local turtle conservation centers noting the growth of sea turtles, applying antibacterial and antifungal ointment to those with wounds, and cleaning enclosures. After completing species identification training volunteers also assist us with bird and butterfly surveys in the region. Other common activities include conducting environmental education workshops and beach cleans. Once a month, our team also travels to two nearby islands to conduct biodiversity surveys and check on the camera traps they have set up in the past to track species. During the Thai dry season, from November to April, you can also assist the team with coral reef monitoring.

Scuba diving is not currently available in Thailand, and snorkeling surveys are only conducted from November to March. Please note that travel between Fiji and Thailand is not included. Speak to your enrolment manager about travel options.

Select a Start Date

  • 2019
  • 2020

Select a Duration

Select a start date first.

Select Add-Ons

+ £15
 

What's It like?

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.

Training

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.


For All GVI Participants

Welcome Presentation

Introduction to GVI as a whole and the work in your specific location. Learn about the short, mid, and long-term objectives of the sustainable development projects at your base, which United Nations Development Goals they impact most directly, and which local partners we work with.


Health and Safety Training

Learn about the Emergency Action Plans in place at your base, the full Risk Assessment, and best practices for personal safety.


Child and Vulnerable Adult Protection Training

Learn about the importance of child and vulnerable adult protection best practices and how to apply them while on project.


Your Program Specific Training

Introduction to GVI Thailand’s Conservation Programs

This includes a discussion of the conservation partners we work with, their objectives and how we assist them, as well as the details of the volunteer and intern activities.


Marine Turtle Biology and Conservation Training

Practical training involving best practices for handling turtles, applying treatments, and conducting turtle research.


Bird Survey Training

Learn methods for conducting surveys and how to identify birds in the field.


Marine Litter Awareness Training

Learn about the effects of plastic pollution and other substances on the marine environment and what is being done to tackle the issue.


Coral Reef Survey Methods and Fish Species Identification

This program is only available from November to April. If you are on the program during this time period you will learn about how to perform coral reef surveys and identify fish on the reef.


Camera Trapping Workshop

Once a month the GVI Phang Nga team travels to islands Koh Ra and Koh Prathong to install and maintain camera traps on the islands. This helps us assist the local governmental conservation organisation with studying elusive species on the island. If you are on the project at this time, you will learn about how cameras are installed as well as how the data is downloaded, recorded, and analysed.


DIVE TRAINING

The goal of GVI’s dive training program is to get you to master the dive skills you need to be competent research divers and ready to collect data as quickly and as safely as possible.


Arrivals

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.


 
 
 
 

Our Ethics

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.


 

Our 10 Ethical Commitments

 

Locally Driven, Collaborative Projects

We aim to design all our projects in collaboration with local organizations and communities and ensure that they are locally driven.


 

Clear Objectives & Sustainable Outcomes

We aim to clearly define short-, mid-, and long-term objectives with sustainable outcomes for all our projects.


 

Impact Reporting

We aim to track, record, and publish the impact of each of our projects.


 

Working Against Dependency

We aim to build in-country capacity by assisting local organizations in becoming self-sustaining.


 

Responsible Exit Strategies

For each local organization we work with, we aim to have a plan in place for withdrawing support responsibly.


 

Clear Roles & Specialized Training

We aim to ensure that ever participant is assigned a clear role and that they are fully trained and supported to carry out their work by specialized staff.


 

Respect for all

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.


 

Local Ownership

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.


 

Transitioning from the Orphanage Model

We do not condone and aim to withdraw support of orphanages and residential care centers.


 

Child and Vulnerable adult policies

We will live by our Child Protection and Vulnerable Adult policies.


Continual Development

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.


Parent Info

‘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.

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.’

Parent Info Pack

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.

Support & Safety

We won’t sugarcoat it — traveling abroad is usually a complex process that carries an element of risk. But this is exactly why we’re passionate about providing extensive support throughout the process as well as the highest safety standards during the in-country phase. We believe that volunteering abroad should not only be impactful, but an enjoyable experience that carries as little risk as possible. This is exactly how we’ve been able to maintain our reputation as the most highly respected volunteering organisations in the sector over the past two decades.


Support

Once a participant books, they will be assigned a personal support coordinator who will oversee their pre-departure journey. The support coordinator helps to bridge the gap between program enrolment and arrival at one of our field bases. Your personal support coordinator will ensure that you are provided with all the necessary information required to apply for visas, background checks, and any other documentation.


Safety

Upon arrival at the airport, participants will be greeted by a GVI staff member. All GVI staff are our own and all our programs around the world are run by our staff. All GVI field staff are background checked, Emergency First Response and safety trained. The minimum staff to participant ratio on GVI’s programs is one to six, although on several bases we have a ratio of one to three. When finishing the experience, participants will provide feedback on all aspects of their program.


Health & Safety Case Studies

19 Nov

HOW GVI UPHOLDS HEALTH AND SAFETY

It takes courage to book a GVI program, get on a flight, and head off to somewhere new. Volunteering offers a level of cultural immersion that typical backpacking or holidays just can’t achieve. This is why thousands of people around the world participate in paid GVI programs.


1 Nov

GVI’S COMMITMENT TO SAFETY AND SECURITY

As the saying goes: ‘Expect the best, plan for the worst’. Cliched or not, we take it to heart. This tenet is at the core of how GVI operates when it comes to promoting the health and safety of our participants, staff, and local community members at all of our 20+ bases around the world.


6 Nov

HOW GVI REMAINS PREPARED FOR NATURAL DISASTERS

The weather isn’t just a topic for polite small-talk here at GVI. We have emergency action plans in place for all scenarios. So when the weather, or other natural forces, takes a nasty turn, we are prepared to respond to stormy situations.


5 Nov

HOW GVI MANAGES PARTICIPANTS EXPECTATIONS

Once GVI has matched a participant to a program that suits their passions and goals, our team aims to set the right expectations for them. In the event that false expectations around a program are created, the GVI team takes immediate action to ensure that the situation rectified.


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
  • Community work workshop
  • Coral reef ecology
  • Diving compressor training workshop
  • First Aid & CPR training
  • Location orientation
  • Long term experienced staff
  • Meals while on project (except on work placements for long term internships)
  • PADI Advanced Open Water
  • PADI Coral Reef Research Diver Distinctive Specialty
  • Safe and basic accommodations (usually shared)
  • Transfer to base location
  • Travel advice
  • Use of O2 equipment workshop
  • Welcome meeting

What's Not Included

  • Additional drinks and gratuities
  • Extra local excursions
  • Flights
  • International and domestic airport taxes
  • Medical and travel insurance
  • Personal dive kit, e.g. mask, fins, wetsuit, timer etc.
  • Personal items and toiletries
  • Police or background check
  • Visa costs (where necessary)