By joining us aboard our research vessel and helping us collect baseline data on whale sharks and the marine environment, volunteers are a crucial part of the success of our research and organisation. Volunteering with MWSRP is a life-changing experience. Our programme offers you the opportunity to get hands-on with the research and data collection, increase your knowledge of marine conservation, learn about local Maldivian culture, and have a great time doing it. We look for enthusiastic people with a love of nature who are not afraid of hard work on their holidays!
Not a marine biologist? Not a problem! We welcome people of all ages, talents, and nationalities. We find that it is the diverse skills that our volunteers bring that make a huge impact on the Programme. Based on the local island of Dhigurah in the South Ari Atoll, we offer 2 and 4-week in-field Assistant Researcher positions during specified field periods each year. Please submit an application to be considered for a volunteer position. We host a maximum of 8 Assistant Researcher volunteers at any one time. This ensures a low ratio of volunteers to researchers for maximum interaction. You will be notified within 2 weeks of submitting the application whether or not you have been selected to follow our research projects in country.
As the only dedicated whale shark research programme in a country where we recognise that we have an important role to play. Our goal has always been to become a Maldivian-run institution so that it is sustainable. We want the MWSRP to continue to provide the knowledge needed so that decision makers can take the measures needed to preserve this species for generations to come.
Contribution covers infield accommodation, subsistence and MWSRP activities.
What’s Not Included
Does not include; international or domestic flights, additional time in country or any optional additional activities.
We operate on a 5 days on the water, 2 days off the water basis. So the most common activity will be being out on the water looking for sharks. It can be hard, hot work, but the more eyes we have on the water, the better our chances of success. We travel around on our dhoni, a traditional Maldivian boat, and from the roof we have a good vantage point from which to spot sharks. We also record any other significant marine species we see, from turtles to mantas and dolphins, so there’s never a dull moment. Once we spot a shark, it’s all systems go! We have to identify the shark if we can, which means taking a left and right sided picture, from which we look at the unique spot pattern later. Those with good lungs may be asked to ‘sex’ the shark, which means swimming underneath and having a good look! Finally, if there’s time, we try to measure the shark, either with a line or with our laser measurement device. Noticing new scars and other distinguishing marks can be really important in recording the health of the population too, so keep those eyes peeled! One of the two days off the water will be dedicated to a community outreach project or data entry and analysis. We often take local community school groups out onto the water with us, or give a presentation to a class. Our volunteers often find they end up sharing so much information about whale sharks that they can give whole presentations on them! We may also be involved with a local initiative to improve the understanding of whale sharks and the Marine Protected Area for the people who live here. As an active research programme, we also have to collate all the data and encounters we log whilst out on the water for presentation to policy and decision makers. Volunteers can help us to bring all this info together and input into our database, and then identify individual sharks themselves. Spotting a shark, swimming with it and then identifying and monitoring it is a really rewarding process! Often volunteers want to ID the sharks we’ve seen before we’re even back on land! We upload all our encounters onto our online portal as well as contributing to our Big Fish Network.
Program And Price
2 Weeks £1695 GBP plus £230 for domestic flight and £37 for taxes. 4 Weeks £2910 plus £230 for domestic flight and £72 for taxes
SuYee Tong “I joined the MWSRP for two weeks without realizing how hard it might be for a city kid to help out with the program but I’m still so glad I went anyway. Being in the Maldives for two weeks was an eye opener – I got to meet people who were very passionate about marine biology and conservation (both staff and volunteers alike) and got to help first hand with the data collection. The staff at the MWSRP were welcoming to us volunteers and I learnt a lot more about the marine ecosystem in the Maldives, and how tourists can get to experience the beauty of the ocean while helping conservation in one way or another. Whale sharks are beautiful creatures, and I’m glad I got to experience encounters up close – it was an intimidating but unforgettable experience. I’d say that whoever wants to volunteer with the MWSRP should come with an open mind and heart, and you’ll definitely be able to play a part in supporting this program and making a difference, while getting to meet whale sharks. Thanks for the experience MWSRP! It was truly unforgettable.”
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