Marine Conservation Philippine

Conservation Divemaster

Zamboanguita, the Philippines show on map

Do your PADI divemaster course with an environmental NGO and learn advanced diving techniques. Possibility of learning deep technical diving for free.

Scientific Diving

Many people who are interested in becoming scientific divers, expedition leaders, or otherwise make a career in underwater science or marine conservation find that a useful step on the way is to become a divemaster - often through PADI (although other recreational dive agencies are represented as well.) The philosophy is, that while PADI divemaster training has an end goal of getting candidates ready to take the role of a recreational divemaster, and handle in- and out of water supervision of inexperienced divers and non-divers alike, there are certain minimum standards to the course ensuring an understanding of dive safety, physiology, physics, logistics and in water supervision which are useful. In lieu perhaps of other relevant training to prove competency, the PADI divemaster course has become the de facto standard for diving personal in marine expeditions and academe outside of the jurisdiction of OSHA and scientific diving regulation.

To many considering divemaster training for the above reasons, the realities of a commercial dive shop can be disheartening. Greeting, selling to and catering to holiday-makers on their discover scuba diving experience can be exhausting and feel far removed from the end goal of employment in the field of conservation.

The project

The host organisation is a registred non-profit NGO, that offers divemaster internships and training with a different focus. Although the PADI training requirements have to be met to honour certification standards, the focus is oriented on scientific diving, technical diving and leading teams of researchers and organising and conducting work underwater in jobs ranging from conducting various survey protocols, salvage and construction of marine protected area infrastructure to removing ghostnets and documenting impact or siltation damage on coral reefs.

If you are not certified as a diver already, you will start your participation in our program by getting licensed through the PADI system of education. As the work we carry out on fragile reefs require divers with excellent skills, we add additional practice and excursion dives until you’re ready for the task. Typically volunteers do one or two courses, but as a divemaster candidate you can do multiple if needed to prepare for the DM training. Taking your diving courses through a demanding environmental organization instead of a lenient commercial dive shop, makes you a very, very excellent diver! 

Once you are done with your primary divemaster training, you will start to take part in all aspexts of what goes on in the organisation. 

Volunteer work

Duties performed by most volunteers are: 

  • Participating in two daily scientific scuba dives mon-fri. Saturdays we frequently go exploring new sites or fun diving instead of working dives. 
  • Kitchen duty (the duty rotates between groups, so you have one day a week just setting table, doing dishes - our cooks does the real magic) 
  • Taking care of our mangrove nursery and participating in replanting efforts
  • Doing afternoon seagrass surveys while snorkeling
  • Helping clean reefs and beaches of plastic garbage at least once weekly. (We do so in between scientific dives) 
  • Cleaning personal dive gear daily and diveshed once a week
  • Filling scuba tanks
  • Help prepare various outreach activities and community clubs (Earth Club, Lutoban Kids Club, etc) 
  • In school periods, you may help go and deliver lessons together with our staff (we'll teach you how!) in local schools. 
  • Cleaning the base and your own bungalow every Monday. 

Volunteering is for people who want to get involved and get their hands dirty. Don’t expect any luxury at camp (well, other than the food which is amazing!). Accommodation is charming, but primitive. There are shared bathrooms and almost everything runs off solar power, including the wifi. There’s an outdoor jungle gym, and the whole botanical garden is more than ten hectares - large enough to go adventuring.

Please be aware that the PADI Divemaster rating is not a certification you buy, It is one you earn. There are a number of practical and theoretical exams you will need to pass, besides having to demonstrate maturity and professionalism throughout.

TECHNICAL DIVING

Marine Conservation Philippines is aiming to become a resource and training centre for research into the mesophotic range (30-100m). As such MCP values when divemaster candidates stay long enough to learn deep decompression diving and put it into use. We may offer technical diver training and diving to divemaster candidates who can commit for longer periods of time, and who show the required maturity, skills, and commitment. 

MCP has the capability to teach and to conduct deep research and survey dives. Visiting scientists and program participants may enrol in this training on certain conditions. Technical diving is not for everyone. It is not a natural progression from the diving typically conducted at dive centres, resorts or liveaboards, nor is it a natural progression from the scientific diving we undertake. It is significantly more difficult, has significantly more risk, and requires significantly longer preparation and mental preparedness. In technical diving, even if you do everything right, there are hazards that are either non-present in regular diving or are severely aggravated in technical diving. We only teach program participants, who 

  • Show the required maturity for the task
  • Understand and accept the significantly greater risk
  • Accept that becoming a technical diver takes a long time
  • Can dedicate the required time to actually put the training into work afterwards.
We offer technical training to the following extent to divemaster candidates, who can stay
  • 16 weeks, Free TEC 40 Course
  • 20 weeks, Free TEC 40+45 Courses
  • 24 weeks, Free TEC 40+45+50 Courses.  Trimix courses available too, but you must pay for gasses.

Please note: We generally only train interns for whom the technical diving is a required tool to conduct required deep research, and/or volunteers who can stay for at least 4 months. To progress from a recreational diver to TEC50 or TRIMIX level typically requires 24 weeks. Please understand: These courses are usually extremely expensive. We teach these courses for free to you, but we teach them FOR us. They require the use (and wear and tear) of very expensive gear. We do not start this training on a whim, and neither should you. If you stay for 16 weeks or longer as a divemaster candiate, you are neither required nor expected to do this training. We may or may not offer it to you, but you are under no pressure to do so. 

Typical day

Most volunteers in the organisation participate in particular projects for which they train. There’s so much to do, that you can’t do it all. Some of our projects are continually ongoing – for example hands-on beach clean ups and the surveying of coral reefs.  While surveying we document the spread of habitats, species abundance as well as damage to coral reefs. Our biologists constantly work on various projects; studies of particular fishes, reef restoration or rehabilitation of species that’s been harvested to topical extinction. 

As a divemaster candidate, you too will take part in these scientific diving and our direct conservation efforts, but especially in the beginning of your stay, you should expect to spend a large proportion of your time on training for the divemaster course.  

As a divemaster in training in our organisation, you will perform a number of important duties, such as ensuring the compressor is running, to check that we have adequate spare parts, first aid supplies and oxygen on all vehicles. To prepare and service dive kit together with our technician, to help our scuba instructors teach scuba courses and to mentor, guide and lead our green divers as an experienced rolemodel. All of this and many other things, big and small, is what you will not only learn to handle, but be expected to charge of. 

If you start as a non-diver you’ll spend quite a while becoming a safe proficient scuba diver through the PADI program of Education.  Depending on the length of your stay you can choose to do multiple diving courses. 

Besides volunteer activities in the water, a great deal goes on on land as well. Part of what we do is visit local schools and tell about our work and what goes on in the sea. By affecting future generations we believe we may help change the future. We try to create artificial divesites (such as deliberately scuttled wrecks or underwater sculpture parks) to create breeding grounds for fish in marine protected areas, as well as promote local and regional dive tourism. Local revenue and job generation from dive tourism can easily outweigh that brought about by destructive fishing practices. At MCP we also do various community outreach programs – we teach first aid and try to lend a hand with various community work when needed.

Details on Arrival

We accept new divemaster candidates and regular volunteers every second Monday.  If you have a calendar, you can easily work the dates out yourself.  Some sample arrival days would be  May 14th, 2018, fourteen days later, May 28th 2018 and so on. 

Kindly note: We do not accept volunteers on Monday, December 24th. 

We offer free pickup from Dumaguete (DGT) airport on arrival Mondays. Volunteers who need to arrive a few days prior will have to find accommodation in Dumaguete (which is a really nice town!) until the actual arrival day. 

The longer you spend training as a divemaster,  the better you get obviously. The minimum duration is listed below. 

DIVEMASTER COURSE MINIMUM DURATION

  • 8 weeks   - If already rescue diver and with 40 logged dives
  • 10 weeks - If already open water diver with at least 20 dives
  • 12 weeks - If non-diver or diver with less than 20 dives

Free-time activities

When you volunteer, you will be busy. There is not a lot of free time - the day starts early at seven, and often you're not done with the work for the day until the late afternoon. Many evenings you will have to study. You will generally dive twice a day, six days a week. You're tired when you're done!  In the weekends however, there is many opportunities to go exploring. You can rent a motorbike and drive around - there's caves, waterfalls, naturally hot geothermal streams, mountain lakes, resorts and lots to see.  There's nearby islands where you can visit black magicians (yes, really!) or cliff dive into amazing azure blue lagoons. 
Water Sports
Swimming
Concert/Music
Sightseeing
Diving/Snorkling
Shopping/Souvenirs
Hiking
Sports
Yoga/Meditation

Program 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)
Health Declaration
required
Required Documents
PADI medical form and liability release
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, Friday and Saturday

Suitable for

Singles
Couples
Groups

Included Services

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Our services are free of charge!
All program fees are charged directly by Marine Conservation Philippine.

Before your journey

Profound consulting and ongoing support (free)
Marine Conservation Philippine (your host organization) provides consulting and is keen to answer all your questions. Once you reserved your spot, you will receive the contact details of your volunteer project.
Online preparation course (optional, from $49)
Prepare yourself and become a confident and well informed traveler. Global Travel Academy takes you on a journey before you leave home, helping you to become one of the world's greatest travelers. Our trusted partner for online learning offers courses in "International Volunteering", "Travel Health & Safety" and "Travel Safety Abroad".

On-site services

Services by Marine Conservation Philippine

The volunteer fee covers:  

  • Accommodation 
  • Three daily meals + many snacks and fruits as you want
  • Free tea, coffee and water
  • All scuba diving costs
  • Marine park fees
  • Complete scuba gear rental of your own personal kit, including a personal dive computer for the whole duration. 
  • Wifi (shared broadband... 3rd world internet. We cannot promise it'll always work.)
  • A complimentary MCP T-shirt
  • Supervision in all activities
  • Transportation from/to the airport
  • All scuba training required (PADI manuals have to be either brought or purchased, plus certification fees) 
Kindly note that volunteer who wish to do any PADI course with us, will have to either bring their own manuals or purchase them from us. They will also need to pay the certification fee to PADI. 

The total fees for any courses (manuals + certification) are: 

Open Water Diver 85 USD
Advanced Open Water Diver 85 USD
Rescue Diver 85 USD
Nitrox Diver 65 USD
Deep Diver 65 USD
Divemaster 325 USD

Airport Pickup at Dumaguete Airport
Let us know when your flight comes in, and we'll pick you up in the airport.  You'll likely ride together with other volunteer, as we only take in new participants twice a month, every second Monday. 

If you arrive some day prior to your stay, you will have to find accommodation in nearby Dumaguete (which is a great town to spend a few days in.)
Accommodation

Please find pictures of the dorms in the gallery. We have both single sex dorms, and shared dorms. If you're a couple, you will of course be in a shared dorm. 

The dorms are built in the style of Balinese Lumbungs, mostly using material found in the botanical garden the research camp is based in (Yes, it's an actual botanical garden!)  The dorms are airy are pretty nice.  Every volunteer has a private locker, big enough for a backpack and some stuff. Additionally, everyone has a private locker with a power socket inside, so you can charge your gadgets while you're out diving.  The mattresses are really good, theres fans in the dorms, and everyone has a mosquito net. (There's hardly any mosquitoes or other bugs in the dry season from January to June) 

Dorm Room
Food & Beverages
When you’ve been out scuba diving all day, you’ll have a healthy appetite. Our cooks prepare three meals a day. We can cater to any allergies, and there's always vegetarian and vegan options. 

Generally we try to eat local foods, and try to source all our supplies from the local market. This is because we put an emphasis on reducing our carbon footprint as much as possible, and because we wish to support local commerce and farmers. The climate allows fruit and vegetables to grow all year round, but many things are seasonal. 

We buy our meat from the local market. The local farmers typically have a fairly small number of chicken and pigs. These are free-range animals, that walk around freely and are really healthy animals, compared to the medicated and poorly treated animals known from industrial farming in the West.

Breakfast

If you’re going scuba diving, you’ll need some solid fuel to keep you going all day. Every day – except Sunday, we begin our day with a continental breakfast consisting of cereal and milk, bread, cheese, butter, jam, fresh fruits and of course tea and coffee. Since Sunday is a day off for all staff members, we open the kitchen for you to prepare your own breakfast.

Lunch

Since many different activities are going on during the day, lunch is generally served from 12 to 2 pm. Lunch is almost always a hot meal, but volunteers who participate in activities far away from base may prepare a lunchbox or eat at a local market.

Dinner

At MCP we see the evening meal as a time to talk about highlights of the day, discuss current events, and just as a good time to get to know each other better. Dinner is served around 7pm and everyone eats together. Participation isn´t mandatory, and if you wish to go out and try something else for a change you’re welcome to do so – but please let us know in advance, so we don’t waste food cooking for you. 

Our cook prepares and serves a variety of local specialties. A typical evening meal will consist of vegetarian dishes, possibly cooked or barbecued meat, vegetables and rice. Occasionally, when supplies allow we serve western meals such as burgers or tortillas or a nice roast. Saturday night we always have a barbecue, which is the highlight of the week for many - as the food is great! 

Should you suffer from any kind of food allergy, we’ll cook suitable replacement meals for you. Please give us notice about any (serious) allergies prior to arrival. We cook vegetarian meals/sides for vegetarians, and our cook is happy to cook vegan meals too. (Do note though, that a lot of the “replacement” food items, like vegan butter, etc. that you may be able to find in stores abroad is unavailable here. Soy milk and tofu is always available though.). 

While not fanatical, we try to avoid food additives as much as possible.

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.
Flight Tickets
The nearest airport is Dumaguete Airport (DGT) in Dumaguete. We assist you to find cheap flights to Philippines.
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 Philippines provides security and is a plus to have.
Vaccines
If you are intending to volunteer in Philippines you should seek medical advice before starting your social journey. Check your required vaccinations for Philippines.
Costs (Prices in USD)
8 weeks (min. stay)
$3,600.00
10 weeks
$4,500.00
12 weeks
$5,400.00
16 weeks
$6,900.00
20 weeks
$8,000.00
24 weeks (max. stay)
$8,700.00
Average fees
$406.00/week

You can volunteer at the project site in Zamboanguita/Philippines between 8 weeks and 24 weeks. Please note that the above shown program fees are estimated and subject to exchange rate fluctuations. Marine Conservation Philippine will let you know about the final price during your application process.
Crowdfunding Service
Generally, volunteering abroad involves certain costs. In case you need financial support, we will assist you to fundraise your volunteer program in Philippines.
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 {project.name} during the application process. Common solutions are either via bank transfer or a cash payment at the project site.
  Asia South-Eastern Asia The Philippines  Zamboanguita, Siit Arboretum

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