Read Our Volunteer Review of The Maldives Whale Shark Project!

Read Our Volunteer Review of The Maldives Whale Shark Project!

Posted by Connor Whelan on Dec 8, 2015

Khristine was lucky enough to visit the island paradise that is the Maldives and volunteer on the Whale Shark Project! You can't get better than a first-hand experience, so let's let Khristine do the talking from here! This is her review of her time in the Maldives!

I flew over from Scotland to Male and spent one day here before the short flight over to Maamigili Island where I got picked up on a speedboat for the start of the project! There were 6 volunteers in total and I met one at Male airport (we are now firm friends and even found that we had friends in common!) The boat ride was an indication of the beauty we were about to witness. The Maldives is breath-taking and Dhigurah Island (this is known as the long island) was our home for the next few weeks. The project owners were very welcoming and knowledgeable in every question we asked. The group was diverse and from all corners of the world (Scottish, Canadian, English and Australian) but we all had one common goal - to help in the conservation of the incredible Whale Shark.

The Maldives

For 6 days a week we would spend approximately 8 hours on the boat keeping our eyes peeled for any signs of a Whale Shark. I was lucky enough that on my first day I got to witness my first ever whale shark in its own habitat. As I jumped into the water with my snorkel on, a 9 metre whale shark was coming straight at me from very close distance. This was so amazing; there was no fear, only joy and excitement at seeing it up close and personal. They may seem to cruise along slowly but believe me you have to be a strong swimmer to make sure you get out of the way of this swimming double decker bus! I also got to swim with oceanic manta rays, sting rays, grey and white tipped sharks, turtles and if I tried to describe all the fish I had met then I’d be writing an epic! Make sure you look up Titan Trigger Fish!

Whale Shark

Our role was to measure the length of the whale sharks we came across, most of them had names and unfortunately we didn’t meet any new ones. We would also check the whale sharks for damage which happens mostly from boats getting too close to them. Part of the data we’d collect would be to give back to the government to let them know how many trips were occurring as they weren’t all legal. To do this we’d note down the name, type of vessel and how many people were on board. The trick to this was to smile and wave which make them all wave back. This made it easier to count the amount of people on board. We’d also note the illegal fishing/fishing boats in the area.

In the evening we’d correlate the data that we had acquired in the day, including any pictures that we’d managed to take. After our duties were finished we’d meet in the main area where the wifi was strongest. There was always plenty of water to drink and the meals were very tasty. There was a packed lunch in the daytime as you’d be on the boat at this point.

The Maldives Whale Shark Conservation

Dhigurah is an inhabited island which means it still comes under Islamic law so being respectful at all time is a must. Shoulders and knees must be covered up. The island is beautiful, the accommodation, is clean, comfortable and safe. The inhabitants on the island are all very sweet especially the children. One day another volunteer and I went for a walk along the length of the island…..and then the heavens opened! Normally the weather was gorgeous. As we sheltered under a tree a family came close by and started cooking. They would put their rice-based dish on leaves picked from the trees. This was when they came over and kindly offered us food and drink as we sheltered from the rain. This trip was wonderful and I cannot recommend it more highly. The Great Projects provide the utmost in conservational and professional services for any volunteer trip. I can say this with confidence as I’ve completed two and will be going onto my third soon.

Life is about memories not possessions. Go on these adventures, you will meet the most wonderful people and grow from it.

If you are interested in following in Khristine's footsteps and journeying to the Maldives then you can find out more here, or get in contact with us in the office and we would be more than happy to help!

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