The Big Idea

If you can’t see it, it’s easy to disregard it. For many years this has been the case with the world’s oceans, where what goes on beneath the waves are unseen to most of us. The world has turned a blind eye to the tremendous strain we’ve put on the seas. Industrial fishing, pollution, global warming and 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 amazing beauty of the seas and witness shortsighted 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.

Your involvement

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.

To conduct our work we rely on citizen science and scientific scuba diving. If you are a non-diver, you’ll pend 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 WaterAdvanced 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 why we need to save marine ecosystems. By reaching out to the next generation we believe we can change the future. We have also created various community outreach programs, and host a summer camp every year.

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.

One of our interns, Rita, working on her sediment project.

Life at base starts at 7:00 with breakfast. After breakfast the plan for the day is reviewed. Some volunteers may still be doing scuba courses, while 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. Lunch is around one or two o clock. 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, (to produce reports to the relevant authorities. You can see how the data works here.) as well as various base work, or community outreach.

The evenings are different. At times you will be at work working on 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 up to you. You may want to organize a game or movie night, get people around a camp fire, or something else entirely. If you are part of the invertebrate survey dive team, you may actually go out diving again at night for the nocturnal species, you can 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 in our cozy areas or library.

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 the work we do is important and we cherish your contribution, we understand that if you stay for many months you may like a some time off. This is fine, but kindly let us know well in advance for planning purposes.

Sunday is always a day off. No volunteers are allowed to do any diving, and we 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?)

Want to volunteer with us?

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