Isabella Renner - Diving & Marine Conservation in Thailand
The Conservation project in Thailand is truly a once in a lifetime experience. I went with my older brother, who had just graduated with a degree in Environmental Studies, and the project was perfect for a fresh-out-of-university graduate. Of course, I was also more than happy to agree to a month of scuba diving in Asia.
Arriving in Thailand
When we arrived at the airport, we met a few other volunteers and then took our first tuk-tuk ride. We arrived at our accommodation just in time for dinner, where we had the chance to meet all the other volunteers. Everyone was so nice and welcoming and we felt included straight away.
The next morning we took a tour around the small town of Ao Nang. We met people from all over Europe, including Holland, Italy, Switzerland and Britain, and even made a few friends from Japan and Quebec. At only 17, I ended up being one of the youngest volunteers on this particular project. Everyone spoke English almost fluently, which made it easier to settle in and connect with our group. The staff were also from all over the globe, and were more than willing to help in any way they could.
My Conservation project
Tuesdays, Wednesdays, and Thursdays were our scuba diving days, with two dives per day. As I had never scuba dived before, I began my Open Water certification training in the pool with a few other volunteers. It was beneficial to be able to spend one day working on breathing and floatation before going out for the ocean dives.
On our second day of training, we went out in the boat with everyone else and took our first dive in the ocean. The reefs of Koh Phi Phi (our main dive site) were beyond incredible. The visibility was crystal clear and the underwater colours were beautiful. Every venture under water included gorgeous tropical fish, eels, sea snakes, the occasional sea turtle, and corals of the most vibrant colours.
My first two weeks in Thailand were dedicated to Open and Advanced Water training and certification. After that, I was able to help the rest of the group on debris dives, where we cleared rubbish such as old fishing gear and general rubbish off the sea floor. We also did reef check dives, counting fish species and coral types. This information was then uploaded to an international data base helping to ensure those populations were maintaining healthy numbers.
Mondays and Fridays were reserved for community projects, and the weekends were a time for the volunteers to explore more of Thailand. We had a few beach clean up days during which we tracked and documented rubbish that had been left or washed up on the beach. We visited a school where we planted trees with local children and helped them learn English.
One day we visited a turtle rehabilitation centre in Phuket, where we washed the algae off turtle shells, scrubbed their tanks, and even got to feed month-old, protected turtles.
Everywhere we worked, the local people were so kind. The work really was as much fun as it was beneficial to the local community.
My volunteering experience
Projects Abroad provided me with an unbelievable experience that I will never forget. I made lifelong friends and can't wait for my next Projects Abroad trip - hopefully very soon!