Projects Abroad | Marine Conservation

Philippines: Marine Resources Researcher

Malapascua, Philippines


Location: Malapascua, Philippines

Duration: from 3 weeks

Cost: from €1,590 Euros – check Costs tab for further details

Start Dates: First Saturday of each month (other dates can be accommodated, dependent on existing dive qualifications and experience. Enquire for more details)


  • Dive with Thresher Sharks at the world famous dive site – Monad Shoal!
  • Join a dedicated, ‘grass-roots’ project working to drive meaningful conservation initiatives at the local level
  • Rigorous dive training (including PADI courses) for the duration of your stay from our full time instructor. Divemaster internships available.
  • In-depth training in marine habitat survey techniques from our qualified marine biologists, culminating in the collection of live survey data.
  • Work alongside a dedicated, professional and passionate team of on-site staff.
  • Gain valuable experience and insights to set you on the path to a career in marine conservation.
  • Our science team can provide support to those undertaking under/post-graduate research studies. We have supported many successful research projects/papers to date.
  • Diving volunteers limited to 8 during one expedition to ensure quality of science training and validation is maintained at the highest level.
  • Work at the heart of the community, and be hosted by a local family to truly experience the warmth and hospitality of the Filipino people!
Costs Explained


We invite you to be a part of our project! Our aim is to promote capacity building and community-based marine resources management as a way to alleviate poverty, whilst increasing the resilience of coastal communities and raise awareness about marine conservation.

Our organisation is committed to working alongside our local community in Malapascua, and guide them towards a healthy and sustainable future, mainly by in identifying innovative ways to protect their marine environment whilst having a positive economic impact – a win-win outcome!

We seek to educate through Research, namely we run expeditions to teach volunteers and local trainees excellent diving standards, educate them to the marine environment, and get their help in collecting underwater data.

By increasing community resilience, we work alongside the community to identify alternative sources of income, support sustainable fishing and the development and implementation of Disaster Risk Reduction programs.

You will help us to support capacity building projects, using tools such as Integrated People Health and Environment (PHE) programs, social entrepreneurship, education, which have been shown to be successful tools against poverty alleviation and towards successful local management of environmental resources.

  • We believe that efforts in supporting coastal communities should be made with a long-term commitment to achieve real change.
  • Involvement of the community is essential to implement successful projects.
  • Our needs in human resources and hosting infrastructure should be met locally.
  • We commit to share information with local and national organisations, local stakeholders and governmental authorities.
  • We maintain rigorous monitoring and evaluation processes to measure and demonstrate our impact.

Daily Life

The focus of our expeditions is two-fold:

1) To train volunteer divers to conduct underwater scientific surveys of the reefs/habitats surrounding Malapascua and the wider region of Daanbantayan. This allows us to collect accurate information about the extent and health of the marine environment and, critically, allow us to see change over time. Don’t worry though – you don’t need to have previous experience in this area to join us. We will give you all the training you need.

Right now is a particularly exciting time for our survey work! We have been working closely with the relevant local government departments and are currently involved in the ongoing efforts to create a new network of Marine Protected Areas in the local municipality. Our survey work (of which you would be part) has been essential in informing this process and allowing it to move forward.

Another recent development is the establishment of a fish monitoring programme on nearby Monad Shoal. This world famous dive site offers regular encounters with thresher sharks and is undoubtedly what puts Malapascua on the map. Working in partnership with local stakeholders, we are providing the technical assistance and required training to establish a long-term monitoring programme on the site that will provide the much needed information for the ongoing management efforts.

2) To establish and maintain a variety of community programmes that address a number of issues on the island – we strongly believe that strong community engagement and effective marine conservation go hand-in-hand. There is an introduction to these land-based projects on our website. To give you an idea, these are the projects we are currently focused on at the moment:

  • Waste management programme – organising beach-clean ups, education at the elementary school, establish of waste segregation programmes, introducing composting, the creation of community garden spaces.
  • The Homestay Association – We are working to establish an alternative livelihood programme for local community members to boost their income.
  • Blue Camps – the children of Malapascua have been raised by the sea. But surprisingly they don’t often get to sea under the water, or really understand what is there. We regularly organise weekly camps or daily activities to take groups of children for an afternoon of education and snorkelling on one of the local reefs. Fun and games! But with a serious message!
  • Local Grade 5 science classes – Needless to say it’s all about education! Working in partnership with the local Elementary School, we have developed an environmental curriculum that has been integrated into the existing school curriculum. Whilst providing a fantastic opportunity to work amongst the local community, these lessons require hard work both in their preparation and delivery.
  • Mangrove planting and monitoring – Mangroves provide numerous benefits to an island such as Malapascua. Principle among these is coastal protection, which in light of two significant typhoon events in the recent past (Yolanda and Ruby) is as critical as ever. Working alongside the local community and the environment office, we have undertaken a mangrove planting programme. This is supplemented by an ongoing monitoring programme to assess the success and identify areas for expansion.

It is the intention that these projects are on-going, rather than just run on a temporary basis. As such, it is hard to say with any certainty what projects you could be involved in. What we would add though is that if you have any particular areas of interest or expertise, we would make every effort to accommodate these in your expedition. We really do believe in trying to make use of volunteers’ varied skill sets and expertise that they bring with them on their stay with us.

A Typical Day

First off, it is important to say that rarely are any two days the same – a typical day is in fact quite hard to describe. But they do follow a fairly consistent rhythm that looks a little like this:

  • 0700 hrs – Breakfast
  • 0730 hrs – Diving kit preparation and briefing
  • 0800 hrs – Boat leaves – 2 dives each day (e.g. dive training, science training, survey dives & data collection)
  • 1230 hrs – Lunch
  • 1300 hrs – Break – time to relax and see out the hottest part of the day
  • 1430 hrs – Activities start: dive or science theory, lesson in school, community activity, etc.
  • 1730 hrs – Sunset beach clean
  • 1800 hrs – Evening dinner, including briefing for following days activities.

Dive training

Even if you have never been SCUBA diving before, you are still able to be part of our expeditions. If you have never been underwater before, our full-time professional instructor on site can take you through the necessary training, as we do require that all participants in our marine survey work are qualified as PADI Advanced Open Water Divers (or equivalent).

All the courses we offer are from the world renowned Professional Association of Diving Instructors (PADI). We run all our courses (and diving operations) with the safety of all involved as the top priority.

In addition to this, we will ensure a comfortable learning environment for you to make sure that your time underwater is both fun and stress free – as it should be!

Please note that the time required to complete any dive training will mean that the minimum expedition length is longer in order to use your new skills in surveys. All diving courses do also involve a ‘theory’ element –  time spent reading some materials and watching videos. You will be able to learn the theory online prior to joining us to maximize your time in the water.

Science training

Having completed the dive training (if needed), you will start the Science training. This is truly the focus of the expedition. Here you will learn about the wonders of the underwater world. One of the most consistent feedbacks we have received from previous volunteers, even the ones who have been divers for a long time, is how amazing it is to learn about all that you see on a dive. Not just fish, but the myriad of living creatures you find under the water! It can add a whole new dimension to SCUBA diving that you may have never experienced before.

It is no problem if you don’t have any relevant background knowledge in marine biology and underwater surveying. All the training you need is provided by our Science Officer on site. Furthermore, we do make every effort to get you prepared in advance by sending you some learning materials that you can study at home before you join us.

We have a ‘core’ survey programme that will be the priority for all arriving volunteers. We currently have over twenty monitoring sites that are periodically visited and this initial training gets you ready to conduct real surveys at one of these locations.

Book with Confidence

Travel & Accom.

Easy to follow instructions will be given to arrive at Malapascua from Cebu international airport. Journey time is about half a day, by bus and ferry.

We aim to place all our volunteers in ‘homestay’ accommodation. This means you would be housed with a family within the local community. Indeed, this homestay initiative is one of our ongoing alternative livelihood programmes on Malapascua. All houses are carefully chosen to meet certain standards with regards to cleanliness, amenities and security. It is worth mentioning that we understand this option doesn’t suit all people. As such we do offer alternative ‘bungalow’ style accommodation, but at an extra cost. Consult with us when applying.

Wifi is available for free whilst at the project.

Fundraising Help


  • Minimum age 18.
  • Minimum 3 weeks commitment
  • Ability to swim 400 metres, unaided. Any stroke, no time limit.
  • Must be of sound physical health and able to work occasional long hours
  • Enthusiastic, motivated, positive attitude and ability to work well in a team environment’
  • Interest in Marine Conservation
  • Good spoken and written English language skills
  • Travel & Medical insurance (covering diving to 30m) – Emergency Medical and Diving Insurance (coverage for diving to 30 metres)
  • Necessary Vaccinations

Recommended equipment to bring:

  • Volunteers must supply their own mask, snorkel, fins, boots, wetsuit
  • Dive computers are considered mandatory but can be hired on site.
  • All other dive equipment is included in the expedition fee.
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Duration Price (EUR)
3 weeks €1,590
4 weeks €1,895
8 weeks €3,075
12 weeks €4,075

*We do accept volunteers for longer than 12 weeks on project-specific internship placements. Please contact us for more details.
** Prices are in Euros, check for the latest currency conversion
*** Places are confirmed with a 10% deposit
**** Deposit incurs a 5% bank transfer fee

What’s Included:
  • Home-stay accommodation in a local community household (individual rooms available. Accommodation in bungalow/resort is possible at extra cost)
  • Three meals per day, unlimited water, tea, coffee.
  • All scientific training and required materials/equipment
  • All dive training (Open Water and Advanced Open Water)
  • 5 diving days per week (weather and site logistics permitting)
  • All diving costs (air fills, boat fees, dive guides)
  • Use of scuba diving equipment if needed: BCD, regulators, cylinders, weights, markers buoys
  • All required marine park fees/government taxes
  • Dive on Monad Shoal with the Thresher Sharks (they can be seen most days but no guarantee attached!)
  • Full support and guidance (from our locally employed team) as you work closely with the local community on a variety of on-going initiatives.
What’s not included:
  • Travel to/from our research base on Malapascua Island, Philippines.
  • Personal travel and dive insurance (mandatory)
  • Any PADI course materials and certification fees (if required)
  • Personal Dive Equipment Items (mask, snorkel, fins, boots, wetsuit)
  • Dive computer – Considered a mandatory item, but can be hired on site.
  • Membership to our charity (15 euros)
  • Visa costs (if needed – you get a 30 days visa free when you enter the Philippines)
  • Meals on days off
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We understand there’s a great deal to plan and organise for your trip. When booking a Placement, many of our participants choose to purchase our Premium Support Upgrade to benefit from the expertise, knowledge and experience of our Project Coordinators.

We can provide the personal advice you need to ensure your trip is organised with excellence and planned with efficiency; ensuring the very best experience possible. Read more about how we can help you.

Note: Map coordinates are approximate