Upon arrival at the tiniest airport I’ve ever been to, I immediately met with other volunteers and project staff who were there to welcome us and drive us to the project site. I never expected to make such fast friends with the other volunteers, however the common interest we shared in volunteering, conservation, and travelling, connected us all instantly. Over the course of the month, the volunteers, scuba shop staff, and project leaders truly became family. Tofo is a tiny, close knit community where you quickly know everyone; this creates an incredible atmosphere that feels safe and extremely fun.
As someone who came to the project having absolutely no scuba diving experience or knowledge, I was a little afraid that I would struggle to learn, or would not be able to learn quickly enough, however the staff and my amazing dive instructors were able to help me overcome my fears quickly and get me out scuba diving immediately.
Seeing my first whale sharks, manta rays, dolphins, humpbacks, sea turtles, stingrays, and sharks was the most unfathomably incredible experience of my life. The size of these animals and their ability to live in a world so different from ours makes it so magical to swim along with them. What made it even more special was that while I was swimming with them, I was also collecting data that would in turn be used to help improve understanding and conservation.
Between ocean safaris and dives, this program gets you out into the ocean frequently, where you can quickly develop not only your diving skills, but also your scientific data collection abilities in a marine environment. Data collection and data entry are an important aspect of this volunteer role, and are also great skills to put on a resume! Overall, volunteering with Whale Shark Conservation and Marine Research, has been the most humbling, rewarding, and education experiences of my life.