Climate Change & Coral Bleaching research

Agency
·
founded in 1997
Shannon
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Coordinator | Shannon
Coordinator | Shannon
Book with Flex Option! Choose new departure dates or change to a different volunteer program at no extra costs.

High­lights

Contribute to coral reef recovery research, learn about threats to coral reefs, and contribute to protecting Fiji’s marine resources.
Earn the PADI Coral Reef Research Diver speciality.
Submerge yourself in the warm turquoise waters of the South Pacific and witnessing the spectacle of underwater life in this tropical region while honing your diving skills.
Stay, for the entire duration of your program, on the tiny, picturesque island of Caqalai, only 14 acres in size.
Live and work with a team of marine conservation and diving experts as well as international participants from all over the world.
Assist with marine conservation initiatives, like surveying corals for recovery after previous coral bleaching events and tropical storms This volunteer program is especially suitable for:
Age 18+
Singles
Couples
50+
Our team on Fiji’s Caqalai island, works closely with the Fiji Locally Managed Marine Area Network and other local NGOs to identify the best ways to assist the community to conserve and protect their marine resources, including corals. Together, we have identified the following research priorities, data collection on targeted fish and coral reef species, habitat mapping for coral reefs and marine environments, development of an environmental education and awareness program for local schools and communities, development of marine and terrestrial environmental best practice on Caqalai Island, and supporting community development initiatives on neighbouring islands. Volunteers and interns, allow for a larger size and scope of all these objectives. 

This project gives volunteers around the world an opportunity to contribute to key marine conservation objectives identified by local Fijian organisations. 
International volunteers do not have to have previous experience, simply a keen interest in marine conservation, snorkeling, and diving. The program starts with training provided by our team of scientists, research divers, dive instructors, and local Fijians. The engaging presentations and workshops are not only limited to coral studies but also other marine benthic life forms, like sponges, lobsters, and crabs, other organisms that live on the ocean floor. During the section of the training related to coral reefs, you will learn about the basic types of corals including branching, encrusting, and massive species, as well as their life cycles. You will also learn more about threats to coral reefs and how coral bleaching occurs. Once your training is complete, volunteers will carry out coral surveys to monitor recovery of the reef after Cyclone Winston and coral bleaching events. 

Volunteers don’t focus on identifying all coral species in Fijian waters, but specifically on noting the species under the Acropora genus, famous for their large branching forms that look much like horns. Acropora species are incredibly abundant in Fijian waters and all the other corals on the survey are defined as non-Acropora species. 

The results of these reef surveys are collated by Caqalai volunteers, interns, and staff, and then presented to the local community organisations. This data, along with alternative livelihood methods and marine management strategies can help local stakeholders to make informed decisions with regards to protecting their vital marine resources and by extension their economy and long-term food security. Depending on the needs of the local partner organisations at the time, you may also take part in other important marine conservation projects like beach cleans or ocean floor clean ups and environmental education programs in local schools or with community groups. In this way, this program allows volunteers to directly address United Nations Sustainable Development Goal #14, Life Below Water. 

Typical day

As a volunteer you will be diving at least 1 -2 dives or snorkels a day.The health of coral reefs ensure the sustainability of an important global food source, namely fish. Corals act like nurseries of the underwater kingdom, providing juvenile fish species with a sheltered environment to grow to their adult sizes. In coastal regions and island nations, like Fiji, fish is central to the local diet. In addition, the fishing industry supports the international economy and national markets, like that of island nations like Fiji. In traditional Fijian communities, the ocean is also a source of building materials. Much of the funds supporting economies of island nations and largely coastal regions, come from tourists looking to experience the vibrant underwater worlds of these areas first-hand. Hard corals specifically, also protect equatorial regions like Fiji from tropical storms.

Although corals are known for their vivid colour palette, this pigmentation is not native to the corals themselves, but rather a result of algae colonies. Corals share a symbiotic relationship with algae, the coral providing the algae with a protective home environment and the algae providing the coral with food. Stressful factors, like water temperatures that are too high or too low, water pollution, and exposure to air for prolonged periods of time, cause the algae to flee. Without the algae, corals appear to become stripped of colour, or ‘bleached’. While this does not kill corals, it puts them in a very fragile state, causing them to become brittle and susceptible to disease. Many researchers agree that the most significant factor causing coral bleaching is climate change. Rising levels of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere, caused by high fossil fuel emissions, heat up the atmosphere as well as the temperature of the world’s oceans. Warmer waters cause colourful algae that live within corals to flee for their lives. Natural disasters, the frequency and strength of which is affected by climate change, also damage coral reefs. Fiji was affected by such a storm in 2016, Cyclone Winston, a storm was of category 5 in intensity.

Other threats to coral reefs include unsustainable fishing practices like overfishing, bottom trawling, and electrofishing. Plastic pollution is another threat. Research has shown that plastic on the reef increases the risk of diseases for corals and that corals often consume microplastics.

Your time on project will be spent researching coral bleaching and contributing to efforts to restore and regrow coral nurseries. 

Free-time activities

You will be based on Caqalai island, approximately 1 hour by boat from the Viti Levu Mainland and a further 45 minutes to the capital, Suva. You will be working on nearby islands and coastal reefs around the base. In order to travel independently around the area on your days off you must prebook water taxis with the staff; there is usually a water taxi each morning and afternoon to and from the mainland. Costs will vary based on destination, but would normally be between $60-150FJD return

You will have time off and be free to travel in the local area on the weekends, usually from around 14:00 Friday, coming back to base by 17:00 on Sunday. In this time you could do daytrips such as visiting the old colonial capital Levuka, on nearby Ovalau, or trekking up the mountains there. You can also go snorkelling or scuba diving, relax for a night or two in a nearby resort or go further afield on Viti Levu. Before and after your program there are countless attractions that can be reached after a day or two of travelling. You could visit the Dolphins at Moon Reef, take a ferry to Taveuni - 'the garden of Fiji' or explore the interior of Viti Levu - the possibilities are endless!
Swimming
Sightseeing
Diving/
Snorkling
Shopping/
Souvenirs
Climbing
Hiking
Sports
Yoga/
Meditation

Require­ments

In order to join the program you need to be at least 18 years old on the program start date. There might be exemptions if you can provide the permission of your legal guardian(s) or if your are accompanied by your parents.
Language Skills
You need to speak English (intermediate level)
Criminal Background Check
required
Required Documents
PADI Medical form and Medical Form
Nationality Restrictions
No restrictions. Helping hands from all over the world are welcome.
Other Skills
PADI Open Water certificate (or equivalent) if joining for 4 weeks
Competent Swimmer (200m). Volunteers will normally be diving or snorkelling twice daily.
Time Commitment
Your helping hand will be required on Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday and Friday

What's Included

Services by Global Vision International (GVI)

WHAT'S INCLUDED

  • 24-hour emergency phone
  • 24-hour in-country support
  • Access to Alumni Services and Discounts
  • Airport pick-up (unless otherwise stated)
  • All necessary project equipment and materials
  • All necessary project training by experienced staff
  • Location orientation
  • Long term experienced staff
  • Meals while on project (except on work placements for long term internships)
  • Safe and basic accommodations (usually shared)
  • Welcome meeting
WHAT'S NOT INCLUDED
  • Additional drinks and gratuities
  • Extra local excursions
  • Flights
  • International and domestic airport taxes
  • Medical and travel insurance
  • Personal dive kit, e.g. mask, fins, wetsuit, timer etc.
  • Personal items and toiletries
  • Police or background check
  • Visa costs (where necessary)

Airport Pickup at Nausori Airport
Airport pick up is included and we will ensure, whenever possible, that one of our dedicated staff will be available to meet you at the airport. We will arrange with you prior to your departure that, should you arrive in the agreed upon pick up window, a member of our staff will be there to welcome you
Accommodation
Accomodation on our Caqalai base is just a few meters away from the water, providing participants with a once in a lifetime experience. Participants are traditionally housed in dorm rooms for the duration of their stay, with shared bathrooms facilities and communal relaxation and social areas.

Bungalow
Food & Beverages
The core of Fijian cuisine consists of taro, rice, cassava, coconut and fish. Participants take it in turns to prepare meals for the group as a whole, which is all part of living on a GVI base. Food consists of primarily a vegetarian diet, though meat is provided on base roughly once per week. Breakfast varies, but could include porridge, fruit or toast, and lunch and dinner are a mixture of lentils, beans and vegetables with pasta, rice, noodles, roti, cassava or dalo.
Internet Access
Limited access at the project site
What's NOT included?
Visa, flights, travel insurance or vaccinations are NOT included in the program fees.
Flight Tickets
The nearest airport is Nausori Airport (SUV) in Suva. We assist you to find cheap flights to Fiji.
Travel Insurance
Going abroad is an adventure and it is always best to be prepared. Sudden illness or injury, cancellation or theft - a travel insurance for Fiji provides security and is a plus to have.
Vaccines
If you are intending to volunteer in Fiji you should seek medical advice before starting your social journey. Check your required vaccinations for Fiji.

Dates & Fees

NO CREDIT CARD FEES

Details on arrival

 Due to the current situation you have the flexibility of changing the destination and start dates for this program at no extra cost. This added flexibility can be utilised until 31 December 2020.

Guaranteed departures with set start dates:

2020

  • 27 Jun 2020
  • 25 Jul 2020
  • 22 Aug 2020
  • 19 Sep 2020
  • 17 Oct 2020
  • 14 Nov 2020
2021
  • 09 Jan 2021
  • 23 Jan 2021
  • 06 Feb 2021
  • 20 Feb 2021
  • 06 Mar 2021
  • 20 Mar 2021
  • 03 Apr 2021
  • 17 Apr 2021
  • 01 May 2021
  • 15 May 2021
  • 29 May 2021
  • 12 Jun 2021
  • 26 Jun 2021
  • 10 Jul 2021
  • 24 Jul 2021
  • 07 Aug 2021
  • 21 Aug 2021
  • 04 Sep 2021
  • 18 Sep 2021
  • 02 Oct 2021
  • 16 Oct 2021
  • 30 Oct 2021
  • 13 Nov 2021

This program is paused due to COVID-19

Availability
Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec
Duration
4 - 12 weeks

Program fees

Costs: Prices in USD
4 weeks (min. stay)
$4,016
8 weeks
$5,801
12 weeks (max. stay)
$7,586
Average fees
$818 /week

The organization charges its fees in EUR. The price table in USD is subject to currency fluctuation. Global Vision International (GVI) will let you know about the final price during your application process.
Deposit (15%)
The deposit is simply to reserve your volunteer placement. Payments are handled by PayPal, our trusted global payment provider. If you don't have a PayPal account, you can also pay using a credit card.
Final Payment (85%)
Your final payment will be agreed with Global Vision International (GVI) during the application process. Common solutions are either via bank transfer or a cash payment at the project site.

Why book with Volunteer World

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Quality Assurance
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Flex Option
Change your reservation at no extra costs
Refund Guarantee
We refund your fees if Global Vision International (GVI) cancels your trip
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We cover your back no matter what happens
Our services are free of charge!
All program fees are charged directly by Global Vision International (GVI).

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Climate Change & Coral Bleaching research

Assist with marine conservation initiatives, like surveying corals for recovery after previous coral bleaching events and tropical storms

$688/week

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