Conservation with Dolphins in Research and Tourism

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founded in 1994
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Coordinator | Jennifer
Coordinator | Jennifer

High­lights

An exciting opportunity to travel, see the world and experience a foreign culture first-hand. Plus lots of adventure activities to do in your free time.
You'll learn a lot from top experts. You'll gain new skills, more confidence and invaluable personal and professional development.
You're making a difference! The enormous satisfaction of knowing that your work is contributing to marine wildlife conservation focusing on dolphins. This is an extremely rewarding project
You'll make friends for life, plus you'll expand your global network of contacts. And you'll have a huge boost for your CV or Résumé !
You're in Australia! Top of many people's Bucket List! An amazing culture and vibrant sights - a colorful country packed with exciting experiences waiting for you!
UP CLOSE AND PERSONAL WITH WILD DOLPHINS! Contribute to the well-being of dolphins at at a Center dedicated entirely to dolphin research. Rewarding Project! This volunteer program is especially suitable for:
Age 18+
Singles
Couples
Groups
50+

Your project is based at a non-profit Centre committed to dolphin research, education, conservation and tourism based in the South West Coast of Australia. The Centre enables people to interact with Bottlenose dolphins in a variety of ways. There are up to 100 dolphins living in the Bay and groups of them regularly visit the shallow waters in front of the Centre. The Centre was opened in 1994, and is the first Centre in Australia dedicated entirely to dolphin research.

The Dolphin Centre is Australia’s most ecologically aware dolphin interaction experience and you'll be joining a team that makes that possible! The Centre relies on the assistance of volunteers to advise visitors on their operations and ethos, help manage the dolphin interaction programme and act as guides. Staff members and volunteers attend monthly meetings, as well as regular video and BBQ nights, which you would be invited to attend.

By volunteering at the Centre you'll achieve a great sense of satisfaction knowing that you are assisting in a worthwhile project to increase public awareness about dolphins and other marine life.

Your project is located in Bunbury and during your stay there, you'll have a FREE Weekend in Perth, staying in a local Hostel. See Activities for more details.

WORK CONTENT:

Being a volunteer at the Centre can be a wonderful experience, you meet people from all around the world, not to mention the dolphins! However, your time as a volunteer will involve a lot more than being in the water with the dolphins. Talking and answering questions is a very important part of your role. Eighty percent of your day will involve talking to people who come down to the beach to see the dolphins, thus educating them about their characteristics and making them aware of how crucial it is to conserve these wonderful animals.

Each day, you will be managed by a Volunteer Supervisor and work within a designated roster. General volunteer activities have been summarized below into a number of broad areas. These areas involve a range of duties and require different levels of skills and experience.

Here are some of the tasks you may be involved with:

  • Talking to visitors on the beach - explaining what the Dolphin Centre does.
  • Assisting to coordinate the Interaction Zone when dolphins visit.
  • Managing the front entrance and Dolphin Room area.
  • Participating in ’’Coastcare” activities and assist with current research projects.
  • Assisting with the research program, recording observations in the bay and monitoring dolphin visits to the zone.
  • Inputting the research data into databases for analysis
  • General maintenance and cleaning.
  • Tour guiding through the Interpretive Centre for the general public, tour groups and school students.
  • The work that you'll be involved in depends on what is available at the time of your placement.

Prior to the rotation duties (mentioned below) you'll undertake morning duties. These are based on rotation teams. During the morning meeting the supervisors will place volunteers into rotation teams and each team will then clean up their area and share the duties. The list of duties will be provided during training.

Other project elements
After morning duties, You'll spend your day on a rotation system, spending 30 minutes at each different ‘area’. Here are the ‘areas’ you'll be involved with:

Discovery Room:
This consists of a fascinating series of educational panels about Koombana Bay’s marine life and environments, history and artefacts, including a fully reconstructed dolphin skeleton, octopus tanks, crayfish tank, starfish tank and two aquariums.

There is a Big Screen Theatre that shows 4 short films on demand. The films provide a wonderful insight into Bunbury’s dolphins as well as giving visitors a sneak preview into whale strandings, the migration of Humpback Whales along the Western Australian Coast and Whale Sharks off Ningaloo Reef.

The ‘Can’:
At the end of the half hour shift in the Discovery Room, you'll be relieved by the volunteers from the boardwalk. You may then get a hot drink or snack and make your way direct to The Can for the next 30 minutes. Your only duty there is to relax and keep a lookout for dolphins!

The Boardwalk:
This is where you again interact with visitors and help make their time at the Dolphin Centre a memorable one. You'll be helping to educate visitors on dolphines and also explaining what the Centre does and achieves.

Interaction Zone:
The Interaction Zone is a 200 square metre rectangular area marked by white buoys located in front of the Centre. This is where the dolphins and people can interact. The dolphin visits are initiated by the dolphins themselves and can occur at any time of the day, usually for between 5 and 45 minutes, but this can vary. As the dolphins are wild, the visits are not guaranteed. There is no set routine or time that the dolphins follow, however they regularly choose mornings between 8am – 11am.

You'll assist in coordinating the Interaction Zone when dolphins visit. The main priority is to protect the welfare of the dolphins during the dolphin visits in the Interaction Zone. It will be your job to ensure that the visitor’s dolphin experience is first class, ecologically sustainable and, of course, enjoyable.

Other activities you may be involved with:

  • Participating in ’’Coastcare” activities (maintaining the Interactive Zone to a high standard)
  • Recording observations in the bay and monitoring dolphin visits to the zone
  • Inputting the research data into databases for analysis
  • General maintenance, gardening and cleaning. These duties are a vital part of the conservation effort to protect the dolphins and other marine life.

WORK SCHEDULE:

You'll normally work 5 days a week, around 8 hours per day and you may be asked to work weekends. You may work fewer hours, however, but with a minimum of 20 hours per week. The daily start time can be quite early, the morning meetings at the dolphin centre are generally about 7.30am, then you'll get sorted into your rotation groups and prepare the centre for opening – sweeping the deck area, putting signs out, etc.

The Volunteers begin their rotation duties for around an hour and then have half an hour break. If the dolphins visit, all the volunteers go to the beach to marshal the Interaction Zone.

Afternoon duties begin at 12 and this is usually quieter, with only 2 or 3 volunteers on duty. If you are asked to be involved with these afternoon activities, then you are likely to be in the Discovery Room with the aquariums. At 4 o’clock the Centre closes and everything is packed away ready for the following day.

THE FIGHT AGAINST PLASTIC:
Sadly, plastic pollution is a massive problem for this project and the dolphins, but it's an issue they're tackling hard. Some of the things that the project is doing to minimise the detrimental effect of plastics on the dolphins and wildlife in general includes:

  • Assisting the Department of Parks & Wildlife to free dolphins, birds, pinnipeds of entanglements with fishing line or plastics. Recently they had a dolphin entangled in a mass of commercial fishing line, the line was sent away for analysis so they could determine which type of fishery it originated from.
  • Unfortunately, not all rescued marine turtles can be saved and sometimes the reason is that they are the victims of plastic ingestion. The projects work closely with Perth Zoo and Murdoch University Vets. Any turtles that do not survive are necropsied and any marine debris found is recorded.
  • Collaborating with Tangaroa Blue & the Keep Australia Beautiful Campaign to regularly clean the beaches. Any rubbish found is reported back and recorded on their databases. Offending companies (such as restaurants) are then pressured into changing their packaging materials.
  • The project has a strong focus on educating young people of the need to dispose of plastics correctly. This includes hosting a "Kids Teaching Kids Conference" for 200 children from 5 schools.
  • Running free community workshops and presentations regarding plastic waste and it’s effect on the oceans.
  • And, much much more...

Where possible, you'll help the Project in this fight against plastic pollution and this will hopefully help to keep the marine life and the precious dolphins a little safer!

TRAINING:
You'll learn a great deal through the training course which covers a wide range of issues and skills and includes presentations from a selection of guest speakers relevant to the operation of the Centre. Regular volunteer meetings are held to ensure you are kept up-to-date with the latest issues regarding marine mammal management and the operations of the Centre.

After having completed a minimum of 20 hours training, you'll receive an official Volunteer T-Shirt which will identify you to the public as a trained representative of the Centre. The Centre relies on the assistance of volunteers to advise visitors on the operations and ethos of the Centre, help manage the dolphin interaction program, actively participate in their research program and act as a guide.

Staff members attend monthly meetings, as well as regular video and BBQ nights, which you'll be invited to attend. By volunteering, you will achieve a great sense of satisfaction knowing that you are assisting in a worthwhile project to increase public awareness about dolphins and other marine life.

This project is a minimum of 6 weeks and a maximum of 12 weeks. You’ll work between 20-40 hours a week, with weekends off. This placement is definitely for animal loving enthusiasts who are willing to work hard and aren’t afraid of getting their hands dirty - the rewards are well worth it! Whilst volunteering is rewarding in itself, time spent at a project such as this is an excellent springboard for traveling around Australia. Meeting other volunteers from around the world, and listening to their stories and recommendations can give you the confidence to travel and experience more.

Typical day

EXAMPLE OF A 'TYPICAL' DAY:

Wake up about 6 and arrive at Dolphin Centre for 7.30am, we then set up different stations e.g. Sweeping and putting signs out and would then go onto ‘rotation’, which is 30 mins in each station, either looking out for dolphins or talking to customers in the aquarium bit and watching the other sea life being fed.

Shifts are normally finished about 12, unless you are doing and afternoon shift which finishes at 4 and you mostly stay inside looking after duties in there and then clear away at the end. When dolphins are spotted in the bay, especially in the Interaction Zone, a volunteer has to ring a bell and let everyone know to head down to the beach and another volunteer gets in the water to start the line. Other volunteers go in and then customers can come in and stand between the volunteers as the dolphins swim up and down.

The cool part about being a volunteer is the dolphins are curious and if you’re the first in the water you catch their attention first and they can come very close!

Another duty that our volunteers particularly enjoy is being 'Louie' , the Dolphin Centre mascot! Someone dresses up as each day and then walks around for photographs with the children - the visitors love it!

Free-time activities

Make the most of your time there! 


Free Weekend in Perth During Your Placement:
As an added bonus on this placement, you'll get a FREE weekend in Perth to explore and get to know this delightful
city! We'll bring you up from Bunbury by coach and you'll stay in a backpackers situated in the heart of the city, on the
doorstep of vibrant North Bridge, which is famous for its bars, clubs and restaurants. The Hostel is also close to the train
station, making it easy to explore the surrounding areas of Perth during the weekend, like the port of Freemantle.

You'll return to Bunbury by coach on Sunday afternoon, ready to go back to your project on Monday ... an enjoyable break and a chance to explore somewhere new. The Weekend in Perth will normally happen about half way through your project.

Eco-Cruise Tours:
All volunteers are encouraged to regularly board the sightseeing vessels during the season. Run by Bunbury Dolphin
Tours, the cruise is a great way for you to increase your understanding and awareness of the dolphins and of course,
enjoy yourself – it is an amazing way to spend your day! Tickets will be issued at the volunteer meetings each month.

You may also receive discounts on tours outside of the the Centre! So if you want to explore the beautiful South West area, ask your supervisor about local discounted service providers.

Water Sports
Swimming
Sightseeing
Diving/
Snorkling
Shopping/
Souvenirs

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)
Required Documents
CV and Reference
Nationality Restrictions
No restrictions. Helping hands from all over the world are welcome.
Time Commitment
Your helping hand will be required on Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday and Friday from 07:30 - 16:00

What's Included

Services by Travellers Worldwide
The fees include:
  • Arranging your Programme,
  • Full pre-departure support and assistance,
  • Payment Protection insurance,
  • Accommodation,
  • Meeting you at the nearest airport,
  • Transfer to your accommodation
  • Transfer from Perth to Bunbury and back again
  • Free weekend in Perth (transfers plus accommodation)
  • Local in-country team support and backup,
  • 24-hr emergency support,
  • Certificate of Completion
The fees don't include flights, insurance, visas, food, daily transport to and from your project, return transfer to Perth airport.
Airport Pickup at Perth Airport

TRAVEL AND ARRIVAL ARRANGEMENTS 

You will fly into Perth airport (Perth is the capital city of Western Australia) where you will be welcomed by our Australian Volunteer Liaison Officer or another one of our staff. They will then transport you to a city backpackers where you will stay for one night to give you time to catch your breath and relax after your flight.

You will be met by us again the following day and given an orientation. After the orientation you will be taken to the Esplanade bus station, located in the Central Business District, where you will be transferred onto a South West coach. The drive down to your project location takes 2-3 hours, mostly along the coastal road and you'll be driving through some beautiful land- and seascapes. When you arrive, a staff member from the Backpackers will meet you at the bus station and take you back to the hostel.

Accommodation

You'll live in a backpackers conveniently located in the heart of the city. We team up with two different hostels that are very similar in the facilities they provide and in their excellent location that is close to everything! You'll have the beach, the City Centre and lots of other attractions all within two minutes walk and you’ll be able to explore the nearby forests, national parks, beautiful waterways, historic towns, many vineyards and the incredibly beautiful coast-line on your days off.

In the town there is a colourful street of sidewalk cafes called the "Cappuccino Strip" that buzzes all day. There are lots of sidewalk cafes and a variety of waterside dining options offer numerous opportunities to taste the wonders of the local produce. These cafes and the award-winning restaurants, as well as atmospheric historic pubs, ensure the town hums. The city also offers plenty of Entertainment Centres, Art Galleries and cinemas.

You'll stay in a dorm room with access to many facilities in the Backpackers. There is a kitchen where you can cook and an excellent BBQ and outdoor area that is very popular. Other facilities that you'll have free use of include a pool table, table tennis, board games, sporting equipment and off-street parking. you'll also be given a unique City Visitor's Guide and you'll have free access to tea and coffee.

Wi-Fi / Internet: There are fast-speed internet facilities at the Backpackers which you can use for a nominal charge, so you'll be able to keep up with emails with friends and family back home.

Dorm Room
Internet Access
Good access at the project site
What's NOT included?
Visa, flights, travel insurance or vaccinations are NOT included in the program fees. Food, snacks or beverages are at extra costs.
Flight Tickets
The nearest airport is Perth Airport (PER) in Perth. We assist you to find cheap flights to Australia.
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 Australia provides security and is a plus to have.
Vaccines
If you are intending to volunteer in Australia you should seek medical advice before starting your social journey. Check your required vaccinations for Australia.

Dates & Fees

NO CREDIT CARD FEES

Details on arrival

TRAVEL AND ARRIVAL ARRANGEMENTS You will fly into Perth airport (Perth is the capital city of Western Australia) where you will be welcomed by our Australian Volunteer Liaison Officer or another one of our staff. They will then transport you to a city backpackers where you will stay for one night to give you time to catch your breath and relax after your flight.

You will be met by us again the following day and given an orientation. After the orientation you will be taken to the Esplanade bus station, located in the Central Business District, where you will be transferred onto a South West coach. The drive down to your project location takes 2-3 hours, mostly along the coastal road and you'll be driving through some beautiful land- and seascapes. When you arrive, a staff member from the Backpackers will meet you at the bus station and take you back to the hostel.

Spaces go quickly, so please enquire early!

2019

  • 28th November: FULLY BOOKED!
  • 12th December: Limited Space!
  • 26th December: Limited Space!

2020

  • 2nd January: Limited Space!
  • 16th January
  • 30th January
  • 13th February
  • 27th February
  • 12th March
  • 26th March
  • 9th April
  • 23rd April
  • 30th April
  • 7th May
  • 21st May

Availability
Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec
Duration
6 - 12 weeks

Program fees

Costs: Prices in GBP (USD)
6 weeks (min. stay)
£2,495 ($3,318)
7 weeks
£2,695 ($3,584)
8 weeks
£2,895 ($3,850)
9 weeks
£3,095 ($4,116)
10 weeks
£3,295 ($4,382)
11 weeks
£3,495 ($4,648)
12 weeks (max. stay)
£3,695 ($4,914)
Average fees
£362 ($481) /week

Please note that the above shown program fees are estimated and subject to exchange rate fluctuations. Travellers Worldwide 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 Travellers Worldwide 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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High ethical standards & transparent social impact
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Change your reservation at no extra costs
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We refund your fees if Travellers Worldwide cancels your trip
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All program fees are charged directly by Travellers Worldwide.

What are people saying about Volunteer World?

Conservation with Dolphins in Research and Tourism

UP CLOSE AND PERSONAL WITH WILD DOLPHINS! Contribute to the well-being of dolphins at at a Center dedicated entirely to dolphin research. Rewarding Project!

$362/week

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