Volunteer Juliet Reviews The Whale Shark Research Project!

Volunteer Juliet Reviews The Whale Shark Research Project!

Posted by Georgia Wilson on 9th Dec 2019

(The following guest blog was written by Juliet Wilson. Juliet returned from volunteering in the Maldives just a few weeks ago and couldn't wait to share her experience!)

I volunteered on the Whale Shark Research Project in the Maldives because it ticked all my boxes: sharks, ocean, bucket-list location. I have always dreamed of swimming with whale sharks but was concerned about exploitation and wanted to do it responsibly. I could not have chosen a better project to be a part of.

Whale Shark Conservation in the Maldives

I can’t sing the praises of the project team enough. From the moment I stepped off the speedboat onto a rainy Dhigurah Island, I felt like I was one of them, welcomed with open arms to aid the research and protection of whale sharks and other marine life. They all taught me so much and I am eternally grateful to have spent an amazing two weeks with them, and Sara my fellow volunteer.

Whale Shark Conservation Project Boat

A typical day involved being out on the boat collecting data on whale sharks that we swam with and any other species we encountered, most commonly turtles, dolphins and eagle rays. We also recorded other boats we saw in the Marine Protected Area – if they were speeding, how many tourists they carried and if they broke the code of conduct during whale shark encounters. All this data is compiled every evening after dinner and often involved matching spot patterns to identify the sharks we’d met!

Whale Shark Conservation Project - The Great Projects

It’s almost impossible to pin down my favourite moment of my trip. I was lucky enough to encounter a whale shark almost every day we went out on the boat and started to recognise some of our repeat visitors. On my second day, we rescued an injured Olive Ridley turtle from a huge ghost net. We were tasked with not only ensuring the turtle’s safety on the boat, but also documenting her for the nearby Olive Ridley project, removing and destroying the ghost net, and making sure she was taken to the resident marine biologist to care for. I was also lucky enough to take part in the project's schools programme, taking local children out on the boat with us to help collect data and go snorkelling. I will never forget the screams of the teachers (happy or hysterical, I still can’t tell) as they spotted a whale shark sneak up on us while we were snorkelling with the children. They wouldn’t talk about anything else for the rest of the day!

Turtle Rescue on the Whale Shark Research Project

To anyone considering coming on this project: please do it, you won’t regret it. Bring your body weight in sun cream, insect repellent and a big floppy hat. It’s a long journey (from the UK) but I guarantee it’s worth it, you’ll always treasure the moment that dark shape swimming under you transforms into a whale shark! I was blessed to be able to fulfil a long-held dream of mine and knowing I helped a small but very important project look after such beautiful creatures makes me go all warm and fuzzy.

It was truly incredible!



Share this Article...

Share this article with your friends and followers by using the social media buttons below.


Leave a Comment...

Wanting to add something to this story or just let us know your thoughts? Just leave your comments below. Please be aware that all comments will be moderated: abusive behaviour or self-promotion will not be allowed.

500 characters remaining

Has this blog inspired you to volunteer? If so, why not enquire today? Simply fill out an enquiry form, and allow a member of our travel team to assist with your query! Please note that blog comments are not monitored by the travel team, so any questions related to bookings may be missed.


Featured Blog Arcticles


Featured Videos


Discover all that is involved in volunteering on The Great White Shark Project in South Africa.

Volunteers talk about their recent experience at the Nyaru Menteng Orangutan Sanctuary in Borneo.

See what you could get up to as a volunteer at the Namibia Wildlife Sanctuary!

Latest Blog Arcticles


The Latest From The Great Orangutan Project!

The Latest From The Great Orangutan Project!

The Great Projects volunteer coordinator, Jess, is...

An Update from the Samboja Lestari Orangutan Project!

An Update from the Samboja Lestari Orangutan Project!

Samboja Lestari welcomed back volunteers this month, and...

Kathy & Drew's Great Gorilla Experience

Kathy & Drew's Great Gorilla Experience

Kathy and Drew joined The Great Gorilla Project in January...

Raja Ampat Diving Project - Magical Manta Ray Moments!

Raja Ampat Diving Project - Magical Manta Ray Moments!

Manta ray season is at its peak at the Raja Ampat Diving...

Leeann Reviews The Great Gorilla Project!

Leeann Reviews The Great Gorilla Project!

"I will definitely do this project again and will recommend...

Florian's Review of the Namibia Wildlife Sanctuary!

Florian's Review of the Namibia Wildlife Sanctuary!

Florian volunteered at the Namibia Wildlife Sanctuary in...

Namibia Wildlife Sanctuary's Roaring Success At TimBila

Namibia Wildlife Sanctuary's Roaring Success At TimBila

The Namibia Wildlife Sanctuary celebrates a roaring success...

All About Elephants – 5 Nelly Updates from 5 Different Projects!

All About Elephants – 5 Nelly Updates from 5 Different Projects!

This blog is for all the elephant lovers out there. With...


Where you can go
Contact Info
UK Office
The Great Traveller Ltd,
3 Dairy Yard
Star Street
Ware, Hertfordshire
SG12 7DX
United Kingdom

Opening hours:
   Mon-Fri 8:30am–5:30pm
   Sat 10am-4pm

T: +44(0) 208 885 4987