Volunteers don’t need to be a divers or researchers to take part. You can learn all on the site from the experienced dive instructions (see below). with the quality and guarantee of the PADI diving school. Take an active part in this volunteer adventure, dive into the world-class dive sites and at the same time help in marine protection!
The marine project where you would be a volunteer – research diver is in the heart of the coral triangle, in Indonesia.This Indonesian marine conservation activity relies as well on the experience and expertise of the volunteers from around the world.
It was founded by marine biologist, dive instructors, and ocean enthusiasts from around the globe. Its creation serves as a nationwide standardized data collection about marine animals, marine mega fauna, coral reefs and ocean ecological status. It is a top volunteer adventure and a research diver training program at the same time. The organization is working together with Bali Diving Academy, the independent research from Florida International University, and the local communities. Its aim is to carry out scientific research with the help of volunteering for shark, ray, beautiful coral forests and marine conservation issues in the Indo-Pacific.
Why volunteer with reef sharks, eagle rays, turtles in Sulawesi?
Exciting news – you don’t have to be a diver already now to be part of this incredible experience. This marine volunteer opportunity is in the heart of the Ocean’s crystal clear water and surrounded within marine key species like reef sharks, eagle rays and turtles. You would actively help to collect a Indonesian nationwide research data about these top marine predators. Along each volunteer would go through the dive training specialised for the volunteer research program off Sulawesi. Volunteers, in the mid of the miraculous national marine park, will take an active part in shark conservation. Being a dive volunteer you will have a chance to admire other exceptional marine life, such as eagle rays, sea turtles and sea horses. The water temperature on the island off Sulawesi doesn’t go below 27C degrees and the long-shore currents make you ready for a spectacular drift diving. Volunteers don’t need to be divers beforehand. The Sulawesi marine conservation activity relies also on the experience and expertise of the volunteers from around the globe. Be bold and take an active part in this volunteer adventure along with helping in marine protection.
off Northern part of Sulawesi, Indonesia
2 months is a minimum
Airport of Arrival:
Manado City International Airport (MDC)
Data collection and conservation of marine mega fauna, sharks, eagle rays, turtles, sea horses, coral reefs
18 and above
# of Volunteers:
3-4 International volunteers from November – April
5-6 International volunteers from May – October
English, French, Spanish, Italian, German, Bahasa Indonesian
If you decide to pay in USD: when applying you’ll get an automatic email reply with the guiding instructions on how to proceed. It will cost you about 50.00 USD more, due to the bank charges and commission.
What is included?
In country transportation from International Airport or accommodation off the Northern Sulawesi to and from the project.
Private accommodation is available for additional fee
Low season (November – April) is 200 EUR/month
High Season (May – October) is 300 EUR/month
Breakfast and lunch are included during working days, vegetarian and vegan options available, local Indonesian food (rice, noodles).
Volunteers must provide their own comprehensive travel, health and diving insurance.
Essential info (other):
- Please contact your family doctor about any vaccinations needed for travelling / volunteering to Sulawesi.
- A dive medical must be completed by your physician prior to your volunteer program start date. Also, if you are not a diver yet but might want to become one!
• 18+ years
• Good swimmer and comfortable in the open water
• Language: Good English
• Team player and marine mega fauna lover
• Medically fit for diving
Many optional excursions are available during your days off for Sulawesi exploring. The area is a paradise for divers, surfers and those seeking the extra adventure while being actually a volunteer! Sulawesi is very close by with a fast boat ride. Ask volunteering staff for more details about these amazing travel destinations.
Prearrival and 24h in country emergency support is provided by the volunteer and research team at this Indo Pacific project.
– Insurance (travel and diving)
– Evening meals
– VISA related costs
– personal spending money
Get live chat for the volunteer experience with sharks & turtles.
- 18+ years
- Good swimmer and comfortable in the open water
- Language: fluent English
- Team player and ocean lover
- Medical fit for diving
- No police Background check is needed
The country is one of the safest in the world however, like everywhere, precautions must be taken with your personal belongings.
I had such a great volunteering experience with Vivamar Society in the NE Adriatic. It was my first volunteering and I absolutely loved every minute of it. The project leader is like a little guardian angel for Dolphins. Its so nice to see someone who has given up everything in order to serve something bigger than herself. We had so many great adventures to nearby towns and villages and also on the water adventures. Going out on the research boat is a thoroughly enjoyable experience, seeing dolphins in the wild is one of the best things you’ll ever see not to mention doing it on many occasions. You really get to know each dolphin by the end of your time as you spend many hours trying to spot the fin. I learn’t so much and there was never a dull moment. The food was also some of the best I’ve eaten. It was a great chance to meet people from all walks and who all share the same goals. Thank you project leads and Vivamar for all that you do and I hope that Vivamar can continue to be an Ambassador for Dolphins in the NE Adriatic.
A great and memorable experience!
The time I spent with the project leader and the other volunteers was an experience I surely will never forget. You get a good insight into the life of the dolphins living in the adriatic sea and the threats that endanger them. This knowledge that we gained from this dedicated Dolphin conservation society Team we could apply directly on our trips on the research boat, while enjoying the sunset -and the dolphins of course- at the same time. On the days we didn’t visit the dolphins, a project leader showed us a part of the scienific work of dolphin research which was very interesting.
The atmosphere was relaxed the whole time, we all got along well. That’s why we also had a lot of fun during our free time which we spent snorkeling, laying at the beach and visiting some beautiful towns. I definitely recommend this volunteering project to anyone who is interested in helping the dolphins and keeping the sea healthy!
After a short search on volunteer opportunities I became quickly aware of the project for the bottlenose dolphins, which was, in my opinion, a total jackpot. From the first day on I got the feeling I was into something important. From the little tasks like washing the dishes to gardening I was always feeling the spirit. We did good work on research comparing dolphin fins on the pictures we took. In our free time we enjoyed the underwater world of the Adriatic Sea, snorkeling for hours! Of course, the most beautiful time I spent here was when we went out on our boat trip to get new pictures and data of our lovely dolphins.
I will always remember the first time when I saw a fin breaking through the surface of the sea and the joy I felt having a look into the eyes of an animal that is so intelligent and free!
I have always been into the sea and dolphins so I was really excited when I found out this project for dolphin conservation. I thought to volunteer for such a purpose would be a good thing. When I had to choose what to do for my matura, final work exam at school, I asked if I could do it about dolphins and from what they are endangered and the project leaders agreed with it.
By volunteering for dolphins I learned more about the research work. But not only this, I also had a good time during doing my work with the other volunteers.We went swimming in the sea, sunbathing at the beach or just drinking a beer and get to know each other better.
But what’s the best of all: you see dolphins in the wild. It’s so great to see them swimming in the wide ocean free and their movements. I can’t believe people are catching them and put them into an aquarium.
I would recommend this poject to everybody who wants to have a closer look at the researcher life and wants to do something good for the sea and its amazing inhabitants.
I have come to do the volonteering for dolphin conservation because I have been fascinated by the dolphins since my childhood. While volunteering we have learned so much about these wonderful creatures – and to see them LIVE in the nature was an absolute highlight!
Last but not least, especially our team was so unique because it team was the oldest ever J and we had one younger volunteer that we at once ‘adopted’ and called her »our baby«. So we have harmonized very well. We have worked together, cooked, cleaned, harvested even olives and did also the tours. Almost like in a family! We laughed until our bellies hurt! Everything fitted just perfectly! And then, of course, there is a team leader, who, by her cordial, open manner and her presence is a real personality! It is absolutely a joy, that you can, through the love to the dolphins meet even so dear people!
A dolphin research organization where I took part was like a blast for me! You can be a volunteer and have an amazing experience with other volunteers from all around the world and with a lot of fun. The work for dolphins comprises of team work everyday: every volunteer gets a task they have to do daily. Before we first went with the boat to the sea, we had two presentations about dolphins and on dolphin conservation. When we first saw the Dolphins on the sea everyone was excited about it. It was such an amazing moment when the first dolphin jumped out of the water. We also saw a dolphin with her calf. That was a really amazing and emotional moment. There are about 150 dolphins, and each dolphin has its name. When we helped in the analysis we compared the dorsal fins to know which dolphins we have seen. When we were at sea there were a lot of dolphin watching boats that drive very near to the animals whereas the research boat always stays a distance away to prevent the disturbance. And when they drive so near to the dolphins they don’t jump anymore and we can’t see them again because they are scared. It’s really important to solve the problem so the Dolphins can live in peace. It makes a lot of fun to work in a group of international volunteers and to learn biology of Dolphins, other languages and volunteering for the nature and the Dolphins.
North off Sulawesi, Indonesia
The volunteer location is located just about half an hour boat ride off the Northern tip of Sulawesi from Manado City. Be dazzled by the crystal clear water, marine mega fauna, reef sharks, eagle rays, turtles, sea horses. Enjoy the wall and drift dives. The water is always 27 degrees Celsius or more and the marine currents along the shore make the dive area spectacular for drift dives.
The island surface is about 700 km2. Here the volunteers can literally submerge into the under water tropical garden. About 91 species of fish are living in the area from which 33 are colourful butterfly fish! To boost the volunteer enthusiasm and help in decision for preserving this marine park – 5 out of 7 species of sea turtles are living here! Volunteer & EcoTravel participants can further enjoy in the reach tropical water ecosystems, sea-grass beds, coral reefs and before all volunteering and admiring marine mega fauna – reef sharks, sea horses and more.
Sharks and rays belong to the group of Elasmobranch and are almost 400 millions years old in the evolution. They have survived multiple mass-extinction events. However, increased fishing and habitat loss have caused that many species are experiencing global population declines. A quarter of known shark and ray species are threatened with extinction in just our lifetime.
Therefore the research of this marine volunteer for sharks, rays and turtles Sulawesi Indonesia program focuses on the important evaluation about the effects of created marine parks. Establishing marine reserves is one of the most important conservation approaches to Elasmobranch conservation. Here, the volunteer project leaders and dive volunteers themselves can thoroughly investigate their implementation on community function. The researchers implement different techniques to examine ecosystem dynamics and the ecological role of sharks, rays, turtles including stable isotope analysis, telemetry, and baited remote underwater video (BRUV) surveys.
BRUV is a non-invasive survey technique, perfect for implementation for use in marine parks. One of the leading problems facing conservation biologists is lack of data from remote regions. Indonesia has one of the richest global shark and ray biodiversity, while belong to one of the world’s leading shark fishing nations. Thus many local shark populations are near collapse. With the marine volunteer help the project tries to collect biodiversity and abundance data on the shark and ray populations in this Sulawesi National Park. These data can be used to mitigate the human impact and for the better management of the shark population. Our work with the work of skilled volunteers also helps in defining the effectiveness of the MPA’s in order to guide sustainable steps in the future.
Before you can be a volunteer research diver, you first must be a diver. The PADI Divemaster and Research Diver internship that this volunteer for marine conservation offers will give you the skills needed to work either in marine conservation/research or even in the diving industry itself. You will meet like-minded volunteers and other people to make your volunteer adventure even more memorable. Each volunteer will be able to network with experienced and aspiring marine biologists and conservation organizations from around the world all with the aim for marine conservation of mantas, sharks in Indonesia.
All intern marine volunteers undergo a thorough training process including completing PADI courses and methodology training before your data is included into the research procedure.
You have 4 different options and duration volunteer experiences available:
- All in one, Aware, BRUV – duration 4 months
You are a brand new passionate marine volunteer, with no experience in diving. You will start with diving courses from the scratch – with PADI Open Water course, all the way to complete your PADI diving certificates (see below). Once completed this will enable you to start enjoying your BEST volunteer conservation project AWARE and BRUV in observing sharks, mantas and coral reefs and help all along to the conservation aim.
- Advanced, Aware, BRUV – duration 3 months
This is a touch into a deeper volunteer adventure, where you will get diving experiences starting with the PADI Adwanced Open Water course and all the rest (see below).. Once it is concluded you will join other marine volunteers and help directly in marine volunteer conservation project AWARE and BRUV.
- Rescure Aware, BRUV – duration 2,5 months
This volunteer experience is an upgrade to your already 20 dives that you have behind you. The rescue PADI course is included in this volunteer opportunity, as well as it will bring you quicker to direct help in the marine volunteer conservation project AWARE and BRUV.
- Master, Aware, BRUV – duration 2 months
In this marine volunteer experience you have already all diving certificates (Master, Advanced and Open Water) with a minimum of 40 dives. You can directly be involved in the volunteer shark and manta conservation project: AWARE, as well as BRUV – baited remote underwater video project.
Marine volunteers, as well as interns, are essential to the daily operations of this Marine Volunteer Project in Indonesia. As a research intern you will have many tasks that will rotate throughout your program to give you a full idea of all the aspects of being a Dive Master and a Research Diver. Some of your daily tasks will include:
- Dive Guide: as a volunteer you will learn yourself how to guide dives and learn it from other experienced dive guides and dive masters. A marine volunteer will (should) be able to guide dives independently by the end of the volunteering.
- Dive Instructor: Assist dive courses from Discover Scuba Diving to Rescue courses. Shadow the instructor team to prepare you to complete your IDC (Instructor Development Course) after your volunteer internship.
- Research Team: Take a leading role in the research team by collecting abundance data on dives and placing & retrieving the BRUV (Baited Remote Underwater Video)
- Office Volunteer Time: Help the dive team in the office with equipment maintenance and repair, sales and books, data entry and analysis, independent study, and dive master workshops.
- Workshops and Skill Development: volunteer will complete the dive skills in a demonstration quality and will take part in a regular shark, ray, and marine ecology workshops.
- Community outreach: volunteers will represent this marine conservation, mantas, sharks Indonesian program also with regular beach clean ups, underwater clean ups, guest lectures and documentary viewings.
The marine volunteer project runs 7 days a week and all volunteer interns are entitled to 1 day off per week or 4 days off per month. These days can be accumulated if you require a few days off in a row. The first few weeks of a volunteer work are dedicated to dive, obtain methodology, and fish ID training and workshops. Once you, as a marine volunteer, are trained and have successfully completed the BRUV research volunteer diver and Fish ID test, you will take part in the daily research tasks.
A typical volunteer working day is from 07:30 – 17:30 with boats departing at 08:30 and 10:30 daily for 2 tank dives. Marine volunteers will meet in the morning and your mentoring instructor will assign your tasks for the day. The mornings are usually dedicated to diving related activities such as guiding customers, placing the BRUV, and collecting the survey data. The afternoons are usually spent around the office analysing and inputting the data. Some days the volunteer will be responsible for managing the office, other days volunteers will be on the boat learning to lead dive trips and collecting data.
Volunteers will stay in a private bungalow with a western bathroom. It includes air condition, fresh hot water and a shared pool. The possibility for volunteers of a western style homestay is only 5-minute walk away and is centrally located near some of the top restaurants and spa’s on the island.
All bedding for volunteers are provided by the hosts. Fresh sheets and room cleaning is available for volunteers upon request.
Breakfast and lunch are provided on all volunteer working days (6 days per week). Breakfast consists of eggs, pancakes, bacon, toast, fresh fruit, and fresh juice and is served around 07:00 at your home stay. Lunch is generally traditional local foods based around fried rice or noodles with vegetarian and vegan options available. Lunch is often provided in takeaway containers to have it during your volunteer surface interval. Coffee, tea, and fresh water are always available at the shop and home stay.
Wifi is available, however you can not expect to have western connection. It is enough for basic internet needs but often is not ideal for Skype calls, downloading, or streaming.
Laundry services for volunteers are available throughout the island for around £1.50 a kilo. Leave your laundry with them and pick it up 24 hours later fresh, clean, and folded. This service is available at the home stay.
This volunteer project is perfectly situated off the Northern part of Sulawesi. So you can easily access the Sulawesi island and for the start can explore Sulawesi itself. The international airport is just next to the harbour when reaching Manado City. You are actually already in the middle of some of the most desirable tourist destinations in the world.
Some of the best places to visit in Sulawesi, Indonesia are for sure:
House Of Bajo Tribe In Wakatobi
Lindu National Park
Bogani Nani Wartabone National Park
Poya Lisa, Togean Islands
Whether you are just heading to your volunteer destination of this wonderful experience is already behind you – take a few days before, after or during your program to explore the wonderful Indonesia. Being on a volunteer mission for marine conservation – sharks, rays, turtles in Sulawesi, while at the same time being a tourist is in this part of the world the “must” choice!
Sulawesi is surrounded by a variety of islands. You can wonder from the islands to big cities. The majority of inhabitants are Christians which is a marked difference to other islands like Java.
Best hikes, world class surfing and diving, temple and cultural tours, or enjoy the nightlife of famous Kuta Bali. Bali never fails to impress any type of traveller or holidaymaker. Your volunteering adventure will stay in you forever.
If a volunteer is interested in any of these adventures he/she can ask the volunteer staff who have been living in the area for years. They works closely with a local tour agency and will be happy to advise any volunteer about their awesome programs.
Apply now and secure yourself a place in this amazing volunteer project.