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Composed of over 2,900 individual reefs and 900 islands, the Great Barrier Reef is located in the Coral Sea, off the coast of Queensland, Australia. Known to be the world’s largest coral reef system, The Great Barrier Reef is home to many endangered animals, including over thirty types of whales, dolphins, 1,500 fish species, and much more. This project aims to restore and preserve while protecting its species in the marine ecosystem.

Coral reefs, in particular, provide various marine animals with food, protection, and shelter, but because of human impact, these ecosystems are becoming vulnerable and are in great need of conservation. By teaching volunteers how to scuba dive and then training them to use these skills for the preservation of coral reefs, they gain a deeper understanding of the environmental issues facing the marine ecosystem.

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Location of the Project:  Great Barrier Reef, Australia
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Project length:  12 days
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Arrival Airport:  Cairns Airport (CNS)
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Volunteer Work:  Diving, research, marine rehabilitation. All equipment included (Mask, snorkel, fins, BCD, Regulator, Weights, Tanks, Wet suits/ Stinger suits)
Age:  18 - 80
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Number of Volunteers:  Up to 8 volunteers (This project requires a minimum of 4 participants, anything less and the project will not take place)
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Important Note:  According to PADI Dive regulations people with asthma, diabetes and serious respiratory conditions will not be medically cleared to dive. For most nationalities, a tourist visa is required to get into Australia; it is recommended to apply at least 6 weeks in advance.

What's Included

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Accommodations:  Shared rooms in a hostel and a boat
Food:  2 meals per day are included
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Airport Transfers:  Airport pickup upon arrival
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Insurance:  Comprehensive travel health insurance with volunteer abroad coverage
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Support:  Local in-country team and 24hr emergency support

What's not Included

Flights, reef taxes and levies ($60 and an additional 4 x $15 for each trip to the reef), personal expenses, visa (if required)

Cairns is a tropical location in North Queensland, Australia. Located on a coastal strip between the Coral Sea and the Great Dividing Range, it offers great access to diving at the Great Barrier Reef. From Cairns it is easy to travel to the nearby islands, Green and Fitzroy. While diving is the main attraction, there are many other exciting attractions nearby such as the Atherton Tableland and Cape Tribulation.

Your time at the expedition is divided into two stages: 
 
The first six days will be dedicated to achieving your Open Water certification. If you already have your Open Water certification then you can work on your Advanced Diving Certification. Days will be spent both in and out of the classroom and pool in order to improve your diving skills and knowledge. After this segment of training, you will travel to the Great Barrier Reef to dive a total of nine dives. Four of the dives will be your final steps in achieving your Open Water certification, while the rest will be fun dives, including a night dive. 
 
Once you have obtained your certification, the next six days will be spent on conservation efforts. Over four days you will travel every day to the outer shelf of the Great Barrier Reef. Here, you will do a total of eight dives, with the majority of them focusing on conservation. While diving, you will collect data, observe the coral reef conditions, and survey the animals and plants surrounding the reef. You will also have the opportunity to go snorkeling recreationally or to do further surveys. During the four days you will complete your PADI Project AWARE Specialty. On the last day you will have the opportunity to go to a nearby island to learn about turtle conservation at the Turtle Rehabilitation Centre. You will learn about the organization, meet the turtles currently at the center, and participate in other educational activities as well as enjoying free time to explore the island. 

Internet
Internet:  WIFI is not available on the boats. WIFI is available at the hostel for an additional cost.
Laundry
Laundry:  There are laundry facilities available in the hostel for an additional cost. There are no laundry facilities on the boat.
Accommodations
Accommodations:  Participants will stay at a hostel in shared facilities during most of the program. Participants will also spend two days living on a boat in shared facilities to access reefs further off the coast.
Food:  2 meals are provided per day (Breakfast and lunch.)

Please take note of the project's minimum requirements:

  • Minimum age is 18 years old
  • Good level of physical fitness
  • Completed PADI medical form 
  • Must have at least 4 participants registered for the project 

While the expedition is packed full of amazing adventures in Cairns and at the Great Barrier Reef, traveling around Australia or to nearby Papua New Guinea are wonderful options for before or after the project. The nearby cities of Brisbane and Sydney are only 2-3 hours flight away and also offer exciting cultural and recreational attractions. Don’t forget the magnificent beaches for relaxing and snorkeling, the incredible hiking trails, and the surfing hotspots scattered throughout the rest of Australia.

Volunteer Experiences
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