Learn to dive
Your diving training takes place in the dive shop’s pool and in the ocean. By the end of your first week in Thailand, you’ll obtain your PADI Open Water, PADI Advanced Open Water, and Peak Performance Buoyancy certifications! This means you can safely take part in underwater conservation work with the team. You’ll keep learning and developing your skills throughout your time in Thailand.
In the long run, your volunteer work will contribute to helping protect coral reefs in Thailand. These advanced qualifications will also be useful for future conservation work and recreational diving.
Take part in survey dives with professional divers
Survey dives will help monitor the health and biodiversity of the reefs. Data will be important in determining future policies to protect the marine area. You will also use this data during workshops and lessons.
Gain conservation skills and knowledge
The Marine Conservation Project is designed to teach you about coral reefs, their benefits, and the issues they face globally. You’ll join regular workshops and lessons to improve your knowledge and awareness of conservation issues and skills. This will be a part of a wider Citizen Science course where you can experience some of the latest research projects being conducted by marine biologists.
This course includes studying microplastics, water quality, coral health, and new methods of recycling and upcycling. Many of the topics you learn about will link to the dives you conduct that day. For example; you might collect water samples during a dive, and then test the samples at the base in the afternoon.
Plant and maintain coral reefs
The main focus of this project is to help restore vulnerable coral reefs, while also creating new artificial reefs. This involves surveys, construction work, and planting coral fragments onto new nurseries underwater. Existing reefs require extensive maintenance to keep them clean and to reduce the influx of invasive species.
In many places around the world, it is illegal to touch or damage coral. However, the Department of Marine & Coastal Resources has approved special permission for our team to transplant coral around Koh Tao. You’ll be part of this process and will learn the different stages of transplanting, as well as techniques to use ‘corals of opportunity’ to rebuild impacted areas. You’ll assist marine biologists in our research and restoration areas while discovering the many techniques that suit different corals and locations.
Fishing nets and even trash can be found in the most remote locations. During dives, you will remove ropes, nets, glass, aluminium cans, and other items that are suffocating or threatening coral reefs and other marine life. You’ll be taught how to plan scuba dives to remove debris, and the decision-making process to remove only certain items. You’ll also collect data to push for changes in government regulations to reduce debris levels in our oceans.
Join beach clean-ups along the coastline
Litter and trash are harmful to marine life and wildlife in general. With volunteers from around the world, you will walk along Koh Tao’s beaches, collecting and correctly discarding rubbish. Thousands of cigarette butts alone litter Koh Tao’s beaches.
After each beach clean-up, you’ll make notes, and share this data with local officials. This information can then be used for educational purposes, and for long-term conservation plans in the area.
You’ll join workshops to repurpose and mould plastic into new items. Learn new ways to recycle and manage waste.
Our partners in Thailand
We use the PADI dive courses as our basic dive training programme. You will study and train during your first week in Thailand.
Within a week of your arrival in Thailand, you’ll be ready to dive and assist the team with valuable underwater research work. This period of training forms an important part of your conservation work.
We are committed to preserving and restoring the marine and coastal environment. We do this through numerous activities in collaboration with multiple local and international partners. These include:
- Ocean Conservancy
- Reef Check Foundation
- Big Microplastics Survey
- Green Fins
Our partnerships with local and international groups show our commitment to the conservation of marine life in and around Thailand.
Where in Thailand will I be working?
You will be based in Koh Tao, a tropical island off of the East Coast of Thailand. It is part of the Chumphon Archipelago and provides pristine diving conditions throughout the year. The hotel and dive centre are based on Mae Haad Beach. You’ll dive across many sites around the island, in the Gulf of Thailand.
You will stay at a beachside hotel with ensuite rooms and wifi. You will have air conditioning and hot showers. Shared rooms are same-sex only, unless you are travelling with friends and request otherwise.
When not working, you can relax by the pool, or explore the island and tropical beaches. Social events and cultural activities will be arranged, and you can visit beautiful viewpoints across the island.
We set out the aims and objectives of our projects in documents called Management Plans. We use them to properly plan the work you’ll do. They also help us measure and evaluate our achievements and impact each year.
Ultimately, our Management Plans help us make our projects better. This in turn means you get to be part of something that makes a real impact where it’s needed. Read more about our Management Plans.
Measuring our impact
Every year, thousands of High School Special volunteers and interns actively make a difference around the world. During their time abroad, they contribute towards achieving long-term goals and make a long-lasting positive impact on the communities where they work.
We produce an annual High School Specials Impact Report, which documents some of these achievements. Find out more about the impact of these projects, and read the latest report.
Safety and staff support
Your safety and security is our prime concern. We have many procedures and systems to ensure you have all the extra support you need as a young person travelling abroad. Our Projects Abroad staff are there for you 24 hours a day during the week and over weekends to provide constant support and guidance. Our staff also make sure you feel comfortable and safe at your placement and accommodation. If you encounter any problems, they will be available to help at any time.
Find out more about safety and backup.
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