To join us on an expedition is a big decision. We understand that you want to be part of an something that leaves you energised, educated and inspired. For our part, we want to ensure that what you give to the island during your stay is positive, productive, and that it can truly make a difference to the lives of the community you become part of during your time on Malapascua.
At People and the Sea, we have taken time to develop a program that places emphasis on the needs of both you, the volunteer, and your hosts. Every effort is taken to minimise our impact on the environment while maximising our investment in the local community.
Our volunteer marine conservation expeditions (diving) are a minimum of four weeks long. There are some circumstances when we can consider less, dependent largely on your previous diving experince. You would need to contact us to enquire further about this possibility.
This four week duration really allows the necessary time to develop your diving skills, absorb all the necessary information regarding your science training and, most importantly, to really get to know the island and develop the understanding of the difference your contribution makes.
We do also accept non-diving volunteers! We feel that sucessful marine conservation must go hand-in-hand with the engagement and subsequent support of the local community. We have established a variety of on-going initiatives where the contribution of our volunteers is just as important. As a ‘land-based’ volunteer you would take an active role in their continued success – as well as being truly immersed in the warmth and hospitality of the Filipino people. For a more detailed idea of what you would be doing, please take a look at our website. If this sounds more like your kind of experince, the minimum required stay with us is two weeks.
Needless to say we actively encourage you to stay for as long as you can – more than just the minimum! We know from experince that the longer you can commit to, the more rewarding and fulfilling the experience will prove to be.
What will I do exactly?
(The following description is based on a typical four week diving expedition)
Once you have arrived on Malapascua, the first day is spent sorting out a number of things: accommodation, orientation to the island, and an introductory meeting to formally introduce the project and your month ahead.
The next day marks the start of a weeks intensive SCUBA diving training. Led by one of our very experienced instructors, you will receive expert tuition as you complete two internationally recognised and renowned SCUBA diving qualifications.
There are a number of diver training agencies available to choose from but given their position as the most recognised and popular diver training agency worldwide, we have chosen to offer you PADI courses (Professional Association of Diving Instructors).
We will work hard with you to ensure you have the level of diving competency that the remainder of your expedition requires. More comprehensive details on the diving are available on the ‘Scuba Diving Information’ page of this website.
Please Note: If you are already a qualified diver (at least PADI Advanced Open Water or equivalent) then this first week will instead be used to get your science training underway (see ‘Week Two’ below).
In the second week we move on to the other fundamental part of your expedition training – the marine species identification, marine ecology and underwater survey techniques.
Crucial to the aims and objectives of the expedition, the material delivered in the second week has been carefully compiled and referenced.
There is a lot of information to take on in this second week and we do suggest that you give some time to self-study prior to the start of your expedition. Topics covered include:
• Basic reef Introduction
• Coral Reef ecology
• Marine Environment Ecoogy
• Coral species ID
• Rapid Assessment techniques
• Benthic categories – significance and ID
• Marine invertebrates and impacts – significance and ID
• Fish Biology, key indicators and ID
• Survey Techniques
To ensure that the data we collect is accurate enough to allow meaningful analysis, all volunteers will be required to complete some assessments during the second week that test their ability to correctly identify species and assess populations.
All of this information will be delivered through informal lectures and practical dive assessments and workshops.
The methodologies employed and taught by People and the Sea have been critically reviewed academics in the field of marine ecology and conservation (in both the UK and France) to ensure their scientific rigour . We are proud of this recognition, and feel it provides a sound indication of the quality of training you will receive.
Weeks Three & Four
The second half of your stay is where you get chance to really put all of the training you receive into action.
The collection, processing, and subsequent sharing of data relating to the marine environment around Malapascua is the core focus of our work. The remainder of your expedition gives you the opportunity to make a real contribution to our research goals.
Our days typically start early! Following a light breakfast and a dive briefing, the first dive of the day takes place at 7am. A number of sites around the island have been previously identified for in-depth study. The criteria for their selection are numerous and will be explained to you in more detail as part of your training.
Which if these dives sites you visit is dependent largely on current status of the ongoing data collection programme. The specific objectives of each expedition will vary accordingly but these will be discussed with you at the start of your third week.the local community is critical to the success of effective marine conservation initiatives, including the protection of thresher sharks
Dive sites are rarely more than a 25 minute boat ride. Once there, you will conduct the survey dive using the methods that you learnt and practised during the first half of your expedition. Dive times are limited to a maximum of 45 minutes. Having returned to shore for a full breakfast, the second dive of the day is at 10am. Again site selection depends largely upon ongoing research needs.
Once diving activities are finished, we need to spend some time dealing with our equipment. All diving gear needs to be taken from the boat, rinsed, and then prepared for the early start the following day. Following that, we will have lunch – usually around 1pm.
The afternoon will start off at 2.30pm when we meet at the People and the Sea base. We always conduct a full debrief of the mornings dives. These debriefs offer a valuable opportunity to share experiences and provide an open forum to discuss any matters relating to the days diving and data collection.
After this the priority is to log the data collected that morning. Typically, one dive will see a variety of data collected including the species observed (and their abundance) but also the environmental conditions at the survey site as well as the prevailing weather conditions. It is essential that all the information is recorded accurately to ensure that any later analysis is reliable.
At the end of the day, its time to relax! All staff and volunteers take dinner together on the beach, watching the best sunset on the island!