Make waves as a marine and conservation volunteer

Travellers, mermaids and all around gorgeous human beings! It’s the 8th of June and it’s World Ocean Day.

Which means ditching the plastic cups, water bottles and pina-colada-on-a-beach straws that we love drinking through so much (just the straws mind, the rum can stay – we’re not monsters), and making a STAnd to protect the oceans and marine environments that give us so much.

Another way to help is to get hands-on and dedicate some of your trip to volunteering on a marine project. We caught up with STA Travel’s bike and German beer-obsessed Global Volunteer Manager, Anneli Buehrle, to talk through some of her favourite projects and why their crucial work needs volunteers.

STAnd up, do good, and make waves this World Ocean Day. 

The project: Volunteer with Dolphins in Zanzibar

Where: Jambiani, Zanzibar

What I love: This project focusses on protecting Zanzibar’s fragile marine ecosystem, as well as providing international organisations with valuable research on dolphins. You’ll also be involved with educating local tourist operators on how they can run sustainable tours and ensure that tourists are interacting with marine life in a responsible way.

Life as a volunteer: I cannot even describe how beautiful the location is where you’ll be based as a volunteer! You’ll work on the project during the day, but there’s plenty of time in the evenings and weekends to chill on the beaches, go snorkelling or diving, and explore the rest of the island.

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The project: Thailand Coastal Conservation Expedition

Where: Phang Nga, Southern Thailand.

What I love: This project is based in a small fishing village just north of Phuket, an area and eco-system badly damaged by the tsunami. As a volunteer you really get to know the local people, learn about the challenges they face, and how you can help to promote greater environmental awareness.

Life as a volunteer: This project is hands-on! And your work can vary. Highlights include getting involved in the Turtle Rescue Centre and helping local communities to learn English. Also, although it’s a shocking sight, the beach clean ups are pretty rewarding. It’s crazy how much rubbish ends up there.

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The project: Costa Rica Turtle Conservation

Where: Montezuma or Buena Vista Beach, Costa Rica

What I love: As David Attenborough showed us on Blue Planet II, these turtle conservation projects really do make a difference. Being in one of the most beautiful countries in the world certainly helps too! From surfing, to jungle treks and scaling volcanoes – there is so much to see and do.

Life as a volunteer: You’ll be assisting with the monitoring of endangered green turtles and critically endangered hawksbill and leatherback turtles, contributing to the long-term conservation of these species. I honestly believe that it is one of the best experiences in the world, watching these tiny baby turtles swimming off into the big ocean and knowing that you have helped give a chance to every single one. It’s truly amazing.

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The project: Fiji Marine Research and Conservation 

Yasawa Islands, Fiji

What I love: Made up of over 300 islands, 4,000 square miles of reefs and 1,500 species of sea life, there are plenty of reasons to volunteer in Fiji. The location is undeniably one of the most beautiful in the world, and getting to enjoy it while also knowing that you are contributing to its protection, is really special.

Life as a volunteer: This one is for water babies. Volunteers play an active role here, snorkelling and diving the depths of the South Pacific to carry out important research, identify giant manta rays and map local reefs. Not to forget the cocktails and hammock worshipping each evening when the work is done!

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The project: Whale and Dolphin Conservation in Tenerife

Where: Tenerife, Canary Islands

What I love: As one of the top whale and dolphin watching destinations in the world, the south-west coast of Tenerife is a truly outstanding location to volunteer. Resident communities of pilot whales and dolphins remain here throughout the year. There are also over 24 other species that migrate through these waters – from giant blue whales to killer whales.

Life as a volunteer: This project will allow you to learn more about these fascinating creatures and gain valuable experience in conservation as you work alongside the island’s threatened whale and dolphin populations. Living in the UK, I had no idea that there were so many whales and dolphins right on our doorstep!

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Feel inspired to make a splash of your own? Check out more of a volunteer projects here or visit us instore. Peace, love and adventure. x