WHAT WILL I DO?
The Big Idea
It’s easy not to consider that which you cannot see. For many years this has been the case with the world’s oceans – the world at large has been turnings a blind eye to the tremendous strain the human race has put on the seas. Predatorial industrial fishing, pollution, global warming and deliberate calculated harvesting of endangered species has left us all a point where it’s important to fight back.
As a volunteer at Marine Conservation Philippines, you’ll experience both the splendor of the seas and witness shortsighted wanton destruction of coral reefs. You’ll learn through scientific diving why protection of the seas is important to myriads of other ecosystems, and through your contribution to our efforts, you’ll help affect change. When you eventually leave us, you too will become an ambassador of change.
During your stay with Marine Conservation Philippines, you can take part in many different projects. Some of our projects are one offs – combatting crown of thorn infestations for example, while others are continually ongoing – like the surveying of coral reefs along the southern coast of Negros Island. While surveying, we document species abundance, substrate coverage, and damage to coral reefs. Our scientists work on various projects. Some study reef resilience, others climate change, and still others reef restoration.
Our diving program at MCP is unique. If you are a non-diver, you’ll two weeks learning to become a safe and proficient scuba diver via the PADI program of education. Depending on the length of your stay you can choose to complete multiple diving courses – our rule of thumb is one course for each four week segment of volunteering. Courses you can do while with Marine Conservation Philippines include PADI Open Water, Advanced Open Water or the PADI rescue diver course. If you’re are really ambitious you can even become a PADI Divemaster.
In addition to volunteer activities in the water, we do a great deal of work on land as well. We visit local schools and teach about oceans in general and how the work we do here is saving these marine ecosystems. By reaching out to the next generation we believe we can change the future. We have also created various community outreach programs, such as teaching first aid to the locals and holding a local “Kid’s Club” over the summer. Additionally, we always try to lend a hand with various community work when invited or needed.
Other work involves the creation of artificial divesites (such as deliberately scuttled wrecks or underwater sculpture parks) that act as breeding grounds for fish in marine protected areas (MPAs), or promoting local and regional dive tourism, as local revenue and job generation from dive tourism can easily outweigh that brought about by destructive fishing practices. You can be sure that your work here at Marine Conservation Philippines will have a lasting, beneficial effect on our oceans.
Life starts around 7:00 with breakfast. After breakfast the plan for the day is reviewed. Some volunteers will be doing scuba courses, others will be out doing marine research, underwater cleanups or community work. What you’ll be doing will largely be based on where you are in the volunteer program, but we also take into account personal preferences. After diving, we’ll usually have lunch around one or two o clock or if you’re doing work far from our base, you’ll eat your lunch at a local market there. After lunch we often continue with our various activities till sometime in the afternoon. Typically this consists of entering survey-data on computers, various base work, or community outreach.
The evenings are different. At times you will be at work analyzing data collected on the dives or studying for your next scuba course, but often you’ll just want to relax and unwind with fellow volunteers. What you do after dinner in the evenings is very much up to yourself. You may want to organize a game or movie night, share a drink and a laugh, get people around a camp fire, or something else entirely. Other options would be to go on a night dive, go for a run, catch up with friends and family at home using our free wifi, work out in our gym or just quietly read a book. It really is up to you.
When you wish to have days off, you can let us know. This may be to experience other islands elsewhere in the Philippines, to go for a visa-and-shopping run to Dumaguete, to explore the area on a motorbike or just to have a day to yourself and laze in a hammock with a book. While we feel the work we do is important, we don’t expect you to take part in everything all the time -especially if you stay for months. (But if you want to, you’re most welcome!) We understand most volunteers are not intererested in working all the time, which conveniently leads us to Sundays.
Sunday is always a day off. No volunteers are allowed to do any diving, except for unusual circumstances. The reason for this is twofold – firstly it’s important to off-gas from time to time so you don’t get the “Friday bends” (a slang term in the dive industry, where divemasters and instructors can load their bodies with gas day after day, until they eventually experience symptoms of decompression sickness). Secondly we wish to give our staff a day off as well. Obviously food needs to be cooked, but other than that nothing happens on Sundays, unless you organize it yourself. (When’s the last time you went swimming in a mountain lake, visited a faith-healer or sung karaoke anyway?)