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Great Barrier Reef Marine Conservation

Cairns, Queensland, Australia

Great Barrier Reef Marine Conservation
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Reef Monitoring & PADI Dive Course

Project Information

Volunteer Type General Volunteer

Cost of Project $2700 ($1900 for certified divers)

Duration 11 nights (6 nights for Certified Divers)

Start Dates 08/02/2018, 05/04/2018, 3/05/18, 24/05/2018, 28/06/2018, 16/08/2018, 13/09/2018, 11/10/2018, 01/11/2018, 06/12/2018

Work Roster ALL DAY

Age Requirement 18 years of age or 12 years of age with a parent


There is no better place to Learn to Dive than Australia's Great Barrier Reef. Combine this with some marine conservation activities and it’s a match made in heaven.
Oceans 2 Earth Volunteers has teamed up with prominent scuba diving and outer reef operators in Cairns to offer volunteers a Marine Conservation program conducted on the Great Barrier Reef. With a high commitment to environmental protection and sustainability, this unique dive program falls under the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority’s (GBRMPA) powerful monitoring program ‘Eye on the Reef’ and is designed for volunteers interested in scuba diving, marine conservation and spending time on the reef.
The adventure begins in Cairns, the gateway to the Great Barrier Reef, where you will become a certified scuba diver by completing the popular 5 Day PADI Open Water Course (Advanced Courses or Nitrox available for participants already certified). Then volunteers embark upon the reef as certified divers and volunteer marine conservationists where they will join the ‘Eye on the Reef’ program and complete 8-10 underwater Rapid Monitoring surveys monitoring coral health. The information gathered provides managers and researchers of the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority (GBRMPA) with up-to-date information on reef health status and trends, the distribution of protected and iconic species, and early warnings of environmental impacts.
Volunteers will also have the unique opportunity to spend 4 days with a reef expert on the Great Barrier Reef, to learn and experience firsthand, this endangered natural wonder, the Great Barrier Reef.
Volunteers will undertake a minimum of 17 dives for the duration of the project (8 for certified divers).

Certified divers start Day 6 and complete a 7 day, 6 night program.

  • Your Contribution

Volunteers make a difference to this project by contributing to the Great Barrier Reef’s long-term protection by collecting valuable information about reef health, marine animals and incidents and providing this essential data to the ‘Eye on the Reef’ program, while learning how to dive.

The ‘Eye on the Reef’ program’s success depends highly on the monitoring and data collected by marine biologists, marine park rangers, fishermen, reef tour operators, tourists, volunteers and other reef users. The information is compiled in a single data management and reporting system. The assessment looks at the marine environment and adjacent coastal zone, examining how natural and heritage values can be protected into the future.

  • A Typical Day

Volunteers will undertake a 12 day, 10 night adventure, arriving on the Friday and spending the next two days learning how to dive. The 5 Day PADI Learn to Dive Course comprises of two days of classroom and pool and training/dive theory, then volunteers get out to the reef for three days of practical training and rapid reef monitoring, a total of 9 dives. Head out to sea again with 3 nights and 4 days spent living aboard a vessel on the reef completing 2 dives each day.

There are loads of opportunities to dive on some of the best dive sites the Outer Great Barrier Reef has to offer, completing rapid monitoring, as well as plenty of time to snorkel, relax and really enjoy the reef experience.

To finish off, take a ferry ride to a tropical island off Cairns where participants will spend the day completing another rapid monitoring survey, an educational tour of the turtle rehabilitation centre and a beach clean-up if there’s time. Island facilities include a resort, restaurant, bar, walking trails, glass bottom tours, kayaking and snorkelling.

  • Skills Required

The minimum age to learn to dive in Queensland is 12. There is no maximum age. (Younger divers can undertake a snorkelling program where they can complete the Project AWARE Certificate as snorkelers).

It is a dive course requirement that participants are able to swim 200 metres or snorkel 300 metres and tread water/float for 10 minutes.

O2E recommends that you do not fly within 24 hours of diving. This means that the earliest you should fly is 12 pm (midday) on the day after your program concludes.

  • Challenges

Volunteers will need to learn how do calculate percentages underwater, master their diving skills, identify different fish species, identify impacts on the coral reef and follow instructions underwater.

Scuba diving is one of the most popular recreational water sports in the world and is enjoyed by people of all ages. Fantastic coral reefs, wondrous shipwrecks and unique and interested marine life are the major attractions for people. But it’s important to remember that scuba diving poses unique challenges. Common conditions include ear and sinus injuries or a sting or bite from venomous marine life. In addition, serious conditions can occur, such as decompression illness (Pulmonary Embolism) which can occur due to expansion of gasses with rapid ascent, Oxygen Toxicity which is only a problem for deep divers who go below 135 feet, Nitrogen Narcosis which is the effect of extra nitrogen in the body and malfunctioning equipment.

  • Accommodation

The accommodation is split between Cairns and a boat on the reef. While on the mainland, volunteers will stay in a hostel in Cairns.

  • Meals

Breakfast is provided every day, full board when volunteers live on the boat and lunches on the day trips. Vegan and vegetarian are catered for. Volunteers have the choice of an abundance of restaurants to eat at in Cairns at their own expense.

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