Coral Reef Mapping
Very little comprehensive knowledge of the reefs is available, which makes decision-making difficult as the staff do not have enough information to know how to best help. You will help to map the coral reefs as well as the seagrass beds. Volunteers will use point intersect transects to collect data on habitat composition and the health of the reefs. The data collected here can also be utilised by other government and non-government organisations for wider conservation purposes.
Artificial Reef Assessments
In 2013, several structures were shrunk to create new areas for fish to inhabit, and in turn, create new fishing grounds for fishermen to reduce the pressures on natural reefs where villagers currently fish. These structures need to be assessed for fish quantities and health before they are opened for fishing. You will help to conduct fish counts and video transect surveys to help our researchers to assess the FADs (Fish Aggregating Devices).
You may also be asked to help with collecting information on several other aspects of marine conservation, such as collecting data loggers for sea temperature, water quality, turbidity, wave height, salinity and more. These factors are very important and the crucial data which you collect will enable the team to better understand the abiotic factors which have an impact on the reefs and seagrass, and furthermore how to best sustain them.
Reef And Beach Cleans
You will help to clean the reefs and beaches of the Perhentian Islands, leading campaigns against marine debris to tourists and locals. Throughout the monsoon season, in particular, copious amounts of waste gathers in certain areas such as rope, plastic bottles and rubber, so volunteers will help to remove this. The project aims to participate in beach cleans once a week.
For long-term volunteers, the staff may encourage you to work on a personal project of your own choice which ultimately contributes to further marine conservation. These can be anything from community-based projects, where you spend time educating local school children about an aspect of marine conservation, to making posters and informative brochures. The project encourages you to play to your skills and really get involved with the cause!
You will assist the team by travelling to dive shops and local resorts to brief tourists on locals on how to dive and snorkel responsibly. This helps people to understand how this kind of tourism is putting pressure on the marine life in the area and ensures that tourists can get to enjoy what lives beneath the waves without posing a detriment to it.
Scuba Diving Course
If you are a beginner, you will need to complete a PADI Open Water Qualification in your first week. If you are already qualified, you will be able to gain your PADI Advanced Open Water Qualification or complete a Rescue Diver Course if you have both. One of the above-stated courses is included in the price of the project, but please note the Rescue Diver course can only be completed if you have an Emergency First Response qualification. If necessary, this can be completed for an additional cost of around £75.
During your training, you will take part in both practical and theory lessons. Theory lessons will involve aspects such as benthic training (learning about marine biology), marine identification and underwater survey techniques. Practical training includes practice dives with at least one dive focused on SCUBA buoyancy, practice snorkel ID dives, in-water tests and more! Throughout training, you will receive full support and orientation from the staff, and they’ll certainly get you up to scratch to be able to complete research!
Seagrass Mapping and Surveys
This activity involves collecting information which helps the project to understand the distribution, species composition and the status of the seagrass beds in the Perhentian Islands. You will help to achieve this by creating maps of different variables such as the depth of and percentage cover of the seagrass, what species of seagrass are present and how the marine life use these areas.
Please note itineraries are subject to change and what follows is simply a rough guideline. We recommend that you try to arrive the day before your project start date in order to make their transfers in the morning on the first day.
If you do not have a SCUBA diving qualification, or you wish to advance to the next level of your current certification, you will need to complete this during the first week of the project and therefore the minimum stay for this type of volunteer is 4 weeks. If you already have a SCUBA diving qualification, it is not necessary for you to complete another if you do not wish to. In such cases, volunteers will begin their project on day 8 of the itinerary, with a minimum stay of 3 weeks.
Research training, and then applying what you have learnt in the field is done in 2-3 week blocks. Upon completion of training and application of one research focus, you will then repeat the same process for the next study focus. The longer you spend on this project, the more areas of study you will have the opportunity to be involved with.
Day 1 - The Adventure Begins:
In the morning you will arrive at the Kuala Besut Jetty where you will be met by a member of the team and transferred to the local fisherman’s village in Pulau Perhentian Kecil. You will receive a PADI scuba diving orientation and briefing before taking part in a water confidence session. You will then have some free time to settle in before enjoying dinner and a presentation regarding the project.
Day 2 - 7 - PADI Dive Qualification:
During these days you will take part in your PADI Open Water Diving Qualification. This is where you will learn to scuba dive and start to enjoy the marine paradise of the Perhentian Islands. The mornings will be spent learning theory with the afternoons involving practical sessions including buoyancy training and mock survey dives.
Day 8 -14 – Research Training:
After having completed your PADI Dive Qualification you will undergo training in completing 1 type of research, it may be seagrass surveys, coral reef mapping or artificial reef surveys. This training will involve some lectures and of course some practical scuba dives as well as buoyancy training. If you already had a SCUBA qualification prior to taking part, and are choosing not to complete another, then this week will be the first in your conservation adventure.
Day 15 - 20 – Research Week:
Having completed the training, this week you will get stuck in the research which you have been learning about. No matter what type of research you do, you will focus on 1 or 2 dives in the mornings with the afternoon clear for further dives or data input and analysis. This is where you will put all of your skills to the test and be able to make a big contribution to the project.
Day 21 - 27 - Further Research:
These days will be spent completing more research around the topic you were focusing on in the previous week. This means it’s back to the blue for you, so you can expect to enjoy witnessing the wonders of the marine ecosystem in this gorgeous island paradise.
Day 28 - Final Day:
Sadly, today is your last day! After saying some fond farewells you will hop on the boat and head back to Kuala Bessut where you will then travel home or commence your onward travel plans.
Day Saturdays and Sundays:
Every Saturday the project takes part in awareness campaigns. These could be anything from joining other dive centres with reef clean ups, doing our own beach clean ups or giving Eco Snorkel briefings to groups of snorkelers (research has shown that when briefings are given before snorkelling and diving it reduces damage caused by these activities by more than 60%!)
Sunday is a day to relax at your leisure. Volunteers often spend the day relaxing on the beach, visiting another bay on the island or reading a book in a hammock!
Dates, Availability & Price
To secure a place on this project a deposit of £195 is required at the time of booking, with the remaining balance due any time up to 60 days prior to your start date.
If you are not already at least PADI Open Water qualified, you MUST include a dive course in your booking (minimum duration of 4 weeks.)
Select a duration below to see the available start dates. All dates shown are currently available for you to join this project!
Updates & Outcomes
The project slightly shifted its focus at the beginning of 2017 to focus primarily on seagrass mapping, artificial reef assessments and reef mapping with the overall aim of better understanding the underwater environment. This was done with the aim of contributing to current and applied research of coastal zone management, and solid foundations were built last year.
While the research into seagrass and coral reef mapping will continue throughout 2018, major progress was made last year, with 50 unbiased 100 metre coral reef mapping transects completed between June and October, and the completion of mapping surveys for Romantic seagrass beds! The project has published its own thesis, outlining the research collected throughout 2017. This data can now be applied to global databases to contribute to wider studies and enable the team to make correct coastal management decisions on how to improve the health of the Perhentian Waters. Additionally, as a result of beach clean ups, the project managed to collect more than a shocking 53 kilograms of rubbish!
In 2018, this incredible project aims to keep working towards the completion of their seagrass and coral reef mapping, as well as implementing a recycling and waste management program on the island which it does not currently have.
Check out all the hard work of those at the Perhentian Islands Marine Conservation Project! They have joined the fight to clear the oceans of litter, but the sheer amount of it is truly overwhelming. Read on for more.
- posted on Aug 16, 2017
- by Joshua McGill
September 16th marks Coastal Cleanup Day! Today is about exerting a global effort into cleaning up the world's coast in an attempt to reverse the detrimental effect rubbish has on our oceans. It causes ocean pollution, huge issues for the wrold's dazzling marine biodiversity, and in the long run it will effect us. Read on to expand your knwoledge and spread awareness!
Turtles are facing many threats, all of them created by humans. Take a look at what they are here.
Is this trip for you?
For the duration of your time on the project, you will be staying in the volunteer house. The rooms are usually based on four sharing and are mixed gender. Please note that the accommodation is located in a local Malay village in Perhentian Kecil’s South Eastern corner and is 100% Islamic, so alcohol is prohibited and keeping knees and shoulders covered is essential in order to respect local customs during the project.
There are shops close by where you can purchase toiletries, snacks and drinks if you wish.
All meals and beverages are included in the price of the project – except on Sundays. Breakfast is served at the volunteer house and lunch and dinner are usually cooked by both the team and the volunteers on a rotational basis. Vegetarian, vegan and gluten free diets can be catered for, but please be sure to let us know in advance so your meals can be arranged.
While at the project site alcohol is prohibited, however, you can go to the local resorts if you fancy any alcoholic beverages during your time on the project.
This project involves scuba diving and snorkelling so you must be able to swim confidently and strongly.
No specific skills or experience are required, only a positive attitude and the ability and willingness to work well in a team.
The vaccinations required will depend on your medical history. We recommend that you consult your GP regarding your own immunisation needs. In conjunction with this, we would recommend that you check Fit for Travel’s website.
Please also ensure you get a PADI Medical Form completed and signed by your GP to ensure you are safe to dive and take this form with you when you join the project. You will be unable to join the project if you do not have this upon arrival.
When Is The Best Time To Volunteer?
For this project the best time to volunteer is definitively March to early October. This is the dry season and visibility ranges from 5-20 metres. This is also the best time to see turtles and blacktip reef sharks.
Mid October to February is the monsoon season so the waves are bigger and the visibility is lower which makes diving a lot more difficult.
You will need to travel to Kuala Besut jetty by 10:00am, as this is the jetty that provides boat services to the Perhentian Islands. Transport for volunteers to Kuala Besut is not included in the project fee, but we are more than happy to advise on how best to get there.
From Kuala Lumpur International Airport, klia2 or Subang Airport, fly to Kota Bharu (KBR) and then take a taxi to Kuala Besut Jetty. The taxi taxes approximately an hour and should cost you around RM75. Taxis are available from the airport, or the team can book one for you. If you would like us to book one for you, please let us know.
There are three bus companies that travel from Kuala Lumpur directly to Kuala Besut bus station (a 10min walk from Kuala Besut jetty), these companies are Sani Express, Mahligai Ekspress and Perdana Express. All bus tickets cost around RM50 one way. Buses normally travel overnight, departing between 8pm and 10pm, they take about 8hrs depending on the road conditions. They all leave from Terminal Bersepadu Selatan (TBS), which is at Bandar Tasik Selatan LRT stop7 in Kuala Lumpur.
You can purchase the bus tickets on arrival at TBS or book online through the companies’ websites.
If you choose to take a bus, please provide us with the bus company’s name and approximate arrival time.
Once at the Jetty, you will transfer by boat to the island. The cost of this transfer is included in the price of the project as well as a transfer back to the mainland at the end of your stay.
For your departure, the boat departure times and suitable flight times from Kota Bharu are as follows:
Boat departure at 8am - Arrives at Kuala Besut at 9am - Allowing for arrival at the airport by 10am - Meaning your flight from Kota Bharu will need to depart after 11am
Boat departure at midday - Arrives at Kuala Besut at 1pm - Allowing for arrival at the airport by 2pm - Meaning your flight from Kota Bharu will need to depart after 3pm
Boat departure at 4pm - Arrives at Kuala Besut at 5pm - Allowing for arrival at the airport by 6pm - Meaning your flight from Kota Bharu will need to depart after 7pm
If you would like help booking your flights, please visit our flights page and fill out the form. A member of our team will get back in touch as soon as possible with a suitable quote.
There is no visa that requires purchase prior to arrival for most nationalities to enter Malaysia. A visa stamp is provided upon arrival at the airport for up to 90 days. However, please check the Malaysian Immigration website for detailed information.
Currency and Exchange Rates
The Malaysian currency is the Ringgit. The conversion rate is approx. 1 MYR to 0.19 GBP, 0.23 EUR and 0.31 USD
What's included in the price of the project?
- A monetary contribution to the project itself
- Boat transfers to and from the island
- All dive equipment and all diving in Malaysia whilst on the project
- Full orientation and support from the project managers
- Accommodation and meals
- A Dive Course and a minimum of 6 dives per week
- All PIC cards and PADI manuals
What's not included?
- All flights and transfers to and from the airport
- Travel insurance
- Visas if required
- PADI Medical Questionnaire. Please ensure you take a completed PADI Medical Form with you, signed by your GP.
- Trips undertaken other than in the planned itinerary (eg. On Sundays to other parts of the islands)