Maldives – Marine and Turtle Conservation

This program is now open to international volunteers!

Join marine conservationists in their efforts to rescue and rehabilitate sea turtles, as well as enjoy spending time in one of the most idyllic places in the world.

 

Program Highlights:

  • A Top 5 Volunteer Abroad Program for 2022
  • Get hands-on experience rescuing, treating and rehabilitating sea turtles
  • Learn from and work with experienced marine biologists and on-site veterinarian
  • Join an ambitious coral gardening project
  • Ethical wildlife interactions and volunteer tasks
  • Explore uninhabited islands and go on snorkeling trips during weekly excursions
  • Experience life on a tropical island, surrounded by crystal waters and friendly community members

 

Your Schedule at a Glance (Minimum two-week commitment):

Arrival Day, Wednesday: You will arrive at Ibrahim Nasir International Airport (MLE) and transfer via speed boat to Naifaru island, your home for the duration of the project.

Day 1, Thursday: Volunteers will receive a welcome presentation and guided island tour of the area and be introduced to the marine center before lunch. After lunch, you will join the staff and other volunteers on the scheduled afternoon activity, usually a snorkel (weather dependent).

Day 2, Friday: You’ll join the team for breakfast followed by a morning activity. Following lunch, volunteers will head to their first shift with the turtles. The marine biologists will give the new volunteer a welcome presentation and explain how the shift runs. A typical shift includes emptying and scrubbing the tanks, feeding the turtles, administering fluid injections to turtles that may need it and interacting with resort guests who come for a tour of the Center. After the shift ends, the volunteers usually try to catch the sunset at the beach before heading to dinner.

Day 3, Saturday: Usually is a day off. Volunteers still begin the day by having breakfast together and sometimes the team schedules an off-island excursion after lunch. Depending on what the current volunteers are interested in, the excursion usually entails snorkeling, visiting an uninhabited island, dolphin watching, or visiting a resort for the day.

Day 4-8, Sunday – Thursday: The rest of the days follow a similar schedule with the morning shift occurring after breakfast (around 08:30), followed by an afternoon activity in between lunch and dinner which usually comprises snorkeling, beach cleanups, coral reef surveys & gardening, turtle rehabilitation swims, documentary viewings, etc.

Remaining Weeks: The remaining weeks will follow the above schedule of working and having Saturdays for group excursions. Volunteers departing will head back to the mainland on a Tuesday Morning and stay in hotel accommodation (not included in the program fee) and fly out from the Maldives on Wednesday.

Check out what our past volunteers had to say!

 

 

Location icon Location of the Project: Naifaru, Lhaviyani Atoll, Maldives

Project length Project length: Min 2 weeks – Max 4 weeks

Arrival Airport Arrival Airport: Ibrahim Nasir International Airport (MLE)

Volunteer Work Volunteer Work: Sea turtle conservation

Age Age: 18 – 55

Number of Volunteers Number of Volunteers: 1 – 8 international volunteers

Important Note Important Note: See Minimum Requirements below for entry visa information.

 

What’s Included

Accommodations Accommodations: Shared rooms in a volunteer house

Food Food: Three meals daily

Airport Transfers Airport Transfers: Transfers are organised by the host organisation, however the cost is the responsibility of the volunteer (this should be no more than $10 USD). The speedboat transfer between Male and Naifaru is included in the project cost.

Support Support: Comprehensive and professional pre-departure travel guidance, 24/7 GoEco emergency hotline, experienced local field team.

 

What’s not Included

Flights, visas (if required), travel health insurance, hotel in Male upon arrival/departure (approx. $70 USD – cash payment only), cost of transfers between airport and hotel.

The project is located on the locally inhabited island of Naifaru, which sits within the Lhaviyani Atoll in the north of the Maldives. As the sixth most populous island in the Maldives, Naifaru boasts a lively community and offers a fantastic opportunity to meet new people. Most of the approximately 6000 inhabitants are Maldivian, however Naifaru is also home to a number of immigrant workers from countries such as Bangladesh and Sri Lanka. The island is packed with intricate streets lined with shops selling everything from ice creams to tailoring services, and there are a number of restaurants serving both local and western delicacies. Take the time to immerse yourself in the vibrant, friendly and welcoming community and kick back and relax on the islands beautiful beaches.

 

Volunteers will help run a small rescue and rehabilitation centre for endangered sea turtles (predominantly green and olive ridley turtles). Most of the green turtles arrive at the centre having been kept illegally as pets, whereas most of the olive ridleys arrive having been caught in discarded fishing gear. Turtles are cared for in the centre by the resident marine biologists until they can be released back into the ocean.

As a volunteer, you will join a dedicated team of marine conservationists, helping to rescue and rehabilitate sea turtles.

There is an on-site veterinarian that volunteers work with on most days at the marine centre (as well as the marine biologist). Our lab is not currently set up for major surgeries, but volunteers will assist in basic turtle medical care.

We have also introduced a coral gardening project which includes collecting corals of opportunity (naturally broken off from the reef) and attaching them to coral trees or frames in our nursery. The coral project also requires monitoring and maintenance tasks like cleaning frames, checking the health of the coral, removing competing species, and measuring growth.

 

Volunteer Activities

Mornings:

  • Empty the turtle tanks and clean and scrub them out before refilling
  • Feed the turtles

Afternoon Activities:

  • Take one of our resident turtles for a swim in the ocean
  • Snorkelling around the jetty or off the beach near the marine centre
  • Beach clean ups
  • Watching sunset at the beach or at a nearby café
  • Watching a documentary or playing cards/games
  • Coral Gardening

Evenings

  • Card games
  • Catch crabs to feed to the turtles
  • Film night
  • Downtime

Daily tasks may vary depending on the time and duration of your stay, and the number of turtles at the marine centre. Mondays are our day off and set aside for fun afternoon excursions arranged by the project staff.

 

Please note: Volunteer activities can change based upon the needs of the project

Program Accomplishments:
In 2019, this center admitted 60 injured sea turtles, 22 of which have been released so far.

Internet icon Internet: WiFi is available at the accommodation.

Laundry icon Laundry: Laundry facilities are available at the accommodation.

Accommodations icon Accommodations: Volunteers will stay in shared accommodation (2-3 per room). All rooms are single gender and are equipped with air conditioning and an en suite bathroom. The volunteer house has electricity, communal living area and basic kitchen supplies. Private rooms are available at an additional cost (pending availability).

Food icon Food: We provide volunteers with three meals daily. Breakfast, lunch and dinner are served buffet-style at a local restaurant. Vegetarian/Vegan options are available – please inform us of any specific dietary requirements in advance and the local team will cater for these.

 

The Maldives government has announced that those travelling two weeks after their second vaccination (WHO approved) may visit the country without quarantine.

Volunteers staying less than 29 days in the Maldives will just need a tourist visa. Volunteers staying longer than 29 days will need to apply for a business visa.

Business Visa Requirements

All applications to volunteer longer than 29 days in the Maldives need 4 weeks in advanced notice to apply for the visa. We will cover the cost of the business visa application by the programme fees. However, any additional costs required to get the documents listed below are not included.

  • Bachelor’s degree (scanned copy of your degree certificate)
  • Police check (less than 12 months old with no convictions)
  • Medical (forms provided)
  • Colour scan of your passport (minimum 300dpi)
  • IM30 (forms provided)
  • Covid Vaccination card or certificate (copy)
  • Passport sized photo with white background (minimum 300dpi)

Departures and PCR Testing
Volunteers currently need to get a PCR test before departure. Therefore, we recommend staying one night in Male before flying to get the results on time. The extra fee for the test costs around $50 and can take up to 12 hours to receive the results. An express test is available for
$100, with results being received within 6 hours.

 

Please note that we will provide you with further information and help after your application to and acceptance on the program.

Volunteer program minimum requirements:

  • Age 18-55
  • Good level of physical fitness, confident swimmers and comfortable snorkelling
  • Possess an interest in marine life and marine conservation
  • Positive, open-minded, with a strong work ethic
  • Snorkelling equipment (mask, snorkel and fins)

Project staff organise weekly excursions for all volunteers (included in the project fee). Activities range from exploring uninhabited islands and specific snorkelling trips to dolphin watching, fishing, and searching for manta rays. We also endeavour to arrange a day trip to a local resort if there is availability.

Participants take advantage of discounted rates at Kuredu Island Resort and Spa at the end of their time on the project. Please enquire about further details/current deals.

Volunteer Experiences

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