Covering 71% of the Earth’s surface, the ocean is a key factor in regulating our climate and weather. It mediates the temperature as water molecules absorb the solar energy that reaches our planet. In addition, the ocean is the largest carbon store in the world, with 83% of its cycle circulating through the ocean waters.
Keeping the water that surrounds us clean, and its wildlife diversified, is necessary if we want the ocean to keep playing its important part. Do you want to contribute to ocean conservation? Do you also dream of visiting exotic destinations around the world? You can actually combine the two goals by going on volunteer vacations.
Here are some of the unforgettable and rewarding volunteer vacations that you can look into. From scuba diving among reefs to whale-observing in Iceland, there’s something for every daring adventurer.
1. Marine Conservation and Scuba Diving in Madagascar
Explore the underwater world, be surrounded by vibrant colors of the reefs, and have fascinating encounters with marine life–this is what scuba diving in Madagascar brings to you. If you want a more active vacation, protecting the ocean ecosystem around the African island can be the ideal choice.
International Volunteer HQ organizes Marine Conservation trips to Madagascar’s beautiful islands. To be a part of the program, you need to have Open Water Dive Certification and Advanced Open Water Dive Certification or be a competitive swimmer. However, if you have no diving experience, you can complete the courses before or after you arrive at the island.
Your conservation efforts during this trip will be directed towards monitoring the health and biodiversity of the reef system, supportive informative campaigns for the locals, and removing damaging materials from the beaches. You’ll also get to meet and spend time with other volunteers and like-minded ocean conservatives.
2. Protecting Sea Turtles in Kenya
Local Ocean has joined forces with volunteers, Kenya Wildlife Services, and locals to protect the sea turtles. This amazing animal is one of the most endangered species as they are consistently under threat from pollution, fishermen, and predators.
The Local Ocean’s efforts have resulted in over 19,000 rescued turtles. They also collected many valuable data that provides researchers with a better understanding of turtle behavior. If you want to be a part of this movement, you can join their expedition.
Some of your activities will include searching for tracks of nesting turtles, monitoring incubation, and reporting on hatching times. You can also contribute to the Sea Turtle Rehabilitation Center. This is where you get to monitor injured turtles, nurse them, and return them to wildlife when they are ready.
3. Dolphin Volunteer Research in the Bahamas
The Ocean Society’s volunteer vacation can give you an opportunity to learn about dolphins and help researchers. The project takes place in Bimini and the volunteers monitor spotted and bottlenose dolphins’ interactions above and under the Atlantic ocean.
What makes this trip worthy of your time is being able to see wild dolphins in their natural habitat. You’ll get a unique chance to observe how they behave and collect data that will help with their preservation. Researchers are dedicated to the study of the behavioral ecology of these dolphins for over 20 years, and you can be a part of that long-term research.
The program features snorkel excursions, so you’ll also get to see other wildlife such as rays, collar reef fish, and sharks. You’ll also get to explore the Sapona shipwreck site. All the experience you’ll have will be enough for you to write the best essay, so you can spread awareness of ocean conservation even when you come back home.
4. Observing Killer Whales in Iceland
Whales provide nutrients to small plant-like organisms, phytoplankton. These tiny organisms are key for fighting climate change as they absorb CO2. Thus, assisting in whale preservation is an important step in helping our planet.
If you want to contribute to a study of killer whales and their potential threats, Earth Watch organizes a trip for all willing volunteers. You’ll be joining the lead scientist, Dr. Filipa Samarra, in the Icelandic Orca Project.
To learn more about their behavior, diet, and the level of pollutants in the whales, you’ll go on observatory excursions, scan for whales, and assist scientists in collecting small skin samples needed for recording pollutants and genetic material. Working along with experienced expeditionists and scientists can be an educational and amazing experience.
5. Conserving the Indian Ocean and Its Wildlife in Seychelles
Global Vision International (GVI) supports non-profits, charities, and governmental agencies across the world. They also organize trips with volunteers to help with conserving the ocean. If you join the GVI Marine Research Team, you can travel to Seychelles and record data that will assist with marine and island conservation.
Volunteers are usually on search and data recording duty. You’ll be scuba-diving your way to corals, octopuses, fish, and other wildlife to note down their presence and behaviors. This expedition will also secure you the PADI Advanced Open Water and Coral Reef Research Diver qualifications.
Besides exploring the tropical island of Mahe, you’ll learn a lot about marine megafauna (rays, sharks, and dolphins) and the wider ecosystem. This is an informative and rewarding journey where you’ll develop many useful techniques.
The Simple Actions of Today Affect Our Planet’s Tomorrow
Being surrounded by palm trees and drinking coconut water during a relaxing vacation can refill your batteries. But imagine how transformative will be to go on a trip that aids our suffering planet. That’s why combining vacation and volunteering can be wondrous for the soul.
Volunteer vacation can take you to some breathtaking places. More importantly, the awareness of being a part of the ocean conservation team will give you a feeling like no other. Observe the fascinating marine wildlife, help world-changing scientists in their endeavors, and meet incredible people who dedicated their time to doing good. All of this and more is what you’ll gain from these expeditions.
Nicole Garrison is a writer, researcher, and environmentalist. Besides hands-on assisting with marine conservation, Nicole works at the paper writing service, where she provides guidance to students who need help writing a research paper on the topics of ocean and ecology.