Marine Conservation Internship

Gain unique experience with developing sustainable management plans for Marine Protected Areas.

Program Overview

This diving and marine conservation internship offers unique opportunity to dive in, explore and protect a spectacular underwater environment. Diving in the crystal clear waters surrounding Fiji's Caqalai island, volunteers will be responsible for collecting data that will help establish community managed Marine Protected Areas and assist the community with developing sustainable management plans.

The internship begins with our marine conservation expedition. Applicants will live for 12 weeks with a research team and undergo an extensive training program, taking diving skills through to advanced level and gaining an intimate knowledge of the marine ecosystem. This knowledge will be put to practice while you work as part of a team to compile crucial research on coral reef and fish species.

On successful completion of the expedition applicants will proceed to complete your PADI Dive Master course during a 12 week work placement with a local dive center. This exciting opportunity will provide practical experience in the dive industry as you assist with daily operations.

We work closely with the Fiji Department of Fisheries and the Fiji Locally Managed Marine Area Network to ensure that that this project and its resulting research continues to be both relevant and useful to to wider Fijian community. Volunteers may be involved in data collection on targeted fish species, habitat mapping for coral reefs and mangrove management, development of environmental education and awareness programmes for local schools and communities and the development of terrestrial and marine environmental best practice on Caqalai Island.

This expedition requires a full time commitment. Depending on your length of stay volunteers can expect to have a few free weekends to explore the surround islands and/or participate on fun dives.

During diveshop placement, the applicants working hours will be dependent on the schedule of the dive shop. Applicants should expect long hours.

Where you'll stay

During your project dates your accommodation and food are included in the project cost. The base is located on the beach on the iIsland of Caqalai which is in the Lomaiviti island group. We manage and rent the Island and are the only people living on it. Accommodation is basic and you will be sharing in mixed dorm rooms with bunkbeds. There is limited running water which is pumped from a well. Food is basic (rice, pasta, potatoes with fresh veg orders once a week). Volunteers take turns preparing the daily meals in the communal kitchen. There is mobile reception on the island and volunteers are allowed to bring their laptops, however charging times are limited and priority is given to communication equipment.

Activities & Training

Things to do 

Volunteers are welcome to organize side trips for their free time or pre or post their project experience. All associated costs and travel expenses are not included in the project fee and need to be factored into the volunteer's own budget. On weekends and downtime, the region around Manuel Antonio plays host to pristine beach's and hiking trails in the National Park. Volunteers can go on a canopy and zip-lining tour through the treetops of the rainforest; visit the small souvenir shops at the beachfront or cafes along the way and watch the world go by; take surf lessons or surf some of the neighboring breaks in this famous surf destination.

Further afield volunteers can visit the Volcan Arenal and relax in the natural hot springs near by or explore the Osa Peninsula and Corcovado National Park. For the advanced surfer, aim for Pavones, the second longest left break in the world; spot migratory raptor birds in the Talamanca Mountains and visit indigenous villages; go deep sea fishing in the Pacific Ocean; canoe or kayak along the waterways in the local area on organised river tours; visit the Caribbean coast, snorkel and go wildlife watching in Cahuita National Park; go white water rafting on the world famous Pacuare river – rapids classed III to IV; climb Volcan Irazu and visit coffee farms on the way back to San Jose; back in the capital, visit the Gold Museum or the Jade Museum, attend a play in one of the numerous theaters or take in the Latin American vibe with its lively nightlife.


Orientation and Training

Staff in the field will provide training on the skills required, but you may benefit from learning more about local history, culture and customs before you travel.



Good to know

Application requirements and preparation

Volunteers need not have any specific skills just an enthusiasm and passion for contributing to the project and the local partner objectives. Volunteers need to be comfortable and confident swimmers and be physically fit and healthy. In most cases volunteer interns dive twice a day, 6 days a week weather dependent. As a result of the basic living conditions volunteers need to be flexible and able to work well in teams and people from a variety of cultures and backgrounds.

Volunteers will need to be fluent in English.

Volunteers need to be at least PADI Open Water (or equivalent) qualified. The PADI Advanced and Rescue Diver qualification are done on base with the Divemaster course taking place at our local dive shop partner.

Volunteers will be assigned either fish or coral and will be required to learn the relevant species before getting to the field.

Health and safety 

A change of environment, climate, food and lifestyle often results in minor, and occasionally more serious, illness. Please inform staff if you feel unwell at any time. The nearest medical facilities are located in Ovalau & Moturiki Island (20 minutes away from base by boat). For major emergencies volunteers would be taken to Colonial War Memorial Hospital in Suva. We have emergency procedures for all foreseeable events, the staff are first aid trained and you will receive a safety briefing on arrival. Please note we cannot provide specific medical advice. Please consult your primary care provider (doctor, GP, etc.) or visit a travel clinic for further information leading up to your trip. Please be forthcoming about any health issues before you begin the project as failure to do so may have serious consequences for you, the staff and other participants, including your removal from the program.

A PADI medical form will need to be completed and signed by a doctor should the volunteer suffer from any of the conditions listed.

We have a small safe on base for money and passports. Traveling in Fiji is generally quite safe and there are low crime rates. The biggest risks result from weather related hazards.

Logistics

All the most relevant and up todate in formation can be found in our field manual.

Volunteers meet at Bamboo Backpackers on Newtown Beach at 07:30 am on the project start date.

Accommodation leading up to the project start date is not included. A taxi from Nadi International Airport to your accommodation should cost around $10FJD.

If you arrive arrive after 20:30pm the evening before your project start date, airport transfer can be arranged.

We can recommend the following accommodation:

Bamboo Backpackers (meeting point)
33 Wasawasa Road, New Town Beach
+679 672 2225
www.bamboobackpackers.hostel.com

Smugglers Cove
Wasawasa Road
+679 672 6578
www.smugglersbeachfiji.com

Nadi Bay Resort
Wailoaloa Road, Martintar
+679 672 3599
www.fijinadibayhotel.com

At the end of your project you will be transferred back to Bamboo Backpackers. Please do not book a departure flight for before 10:00am on this date.

Additional Information

VISA'S: In order for you to enter the country with the correct visa for your volunteering duration it is very important that you take into account the following requirements:

For volunteers intending on staying in Fiji for less than three months:
When entering the country please state that you are volunteering with us. You will be issued a temporary 14 day visa that we will then convert into a Limited Authority to work visa. To do this we will need you to provide a staff member at your welcome meeting with

  • Your Passport
  • Proof of your departure flight (scheduled for departure in under 3 months time)
  • $190 Fijian Dollars (105USD)
  • Hard copy of your Criminal Record Check (translated into English)


For volunteers or interns intending on staying in Fiji for more than three months:
When entering the country please state that you are volunteering with us. You will be issued a temporary 14 day visa that we will then convert into a Short Term work visa. To do this we will need you to provide a staff member at your welcome meeting with:

  • Your Passport
  • Proof of your departure flight (scheduled for departure in under 6 months time)
  • Hard copy of your Criminal Record Check (translated into English)
  • $670 Fjiian Dollars (364USD)


Please be aware that due to immigration requirements for volunteers, failure to adhere to any of the above requirements may restrict your ability to take part in our program or significantly reduce your time in country. Field staff advise volunteers enter the country using a tourist visa. Requirements are dependent on citizenship. For most nationalities this does not need to be arranged in advance. Check with the immigration authorities or see www.cibt.com.

Volunteers need to ensure they comply with your airline's requirements regarding visa and entry requirements for Costa Rica and that their visa covers the duration of their stay. Field staff advise volunteers enter the country using a tourist visa. Requirements are dependent on citizenship. For most nationalities this does not need to be arranged in advance. Check with the immigration authorities or see www.cibt.com.