Volunteer Borneo Marine Conservation

Volunteer at this vital conservation project that focuses on protecting and replanting coral reefs. This project also allows volunteers to gain diving qualifications while assisting the project in carrying out their vital work. Read on to get the low down on how you can get involved.

Duration: 1 to 12 weeks

Hours: 6 days per week

Activities: Scuba diving, coral reef restoration, marine species identification

Location: Borneo

Accommodation: Individual tents on the beach

Requirements: Aged 18+

Volunteer Placement Fee: One week from £840 / US$1,000

How you will spend your time at the project

Volunteers at this project spend the majority of each day working in the water. You will be diving on a daily basis in order to help with coral reef conservation and regeneration. Volunteers who are new to scuba diving will be given training in order to achieve their PADI open water dive certification. Those who already have open water dive qualifications will be able to achieve their advanced certification.
Some of your duties while at the project will include:

  • Collecting hard and soft coral fragments from various reefs.
  • Moving prepared samples to the ocean nursery.
  • Transplanting samples from nursery to reef.
  • Attaching soft coral pieces to concrete bases on the reef.
  • Mixing concrete and producing bases for hard and soft coral planting.
  • Scuba diving at various reefs to record progress of coral growth, and species present.
  • Underwater photography and documentation.

Daily Volunteer Schedule

If you are new to scuba diving, your first few days will be spent achieving PADI Open Water Dive Certification, or training to Advanced Certification if you have trained previously. These courses include theory sessions and tests, and will equip you with the necessary skills to work effectively in the ocean as a dive volunteer.
Divers usually make up to 3 to 4 dives per day, with unlimited snorkelling opportunities. Volunteers work from around 9am until 5 pm. Volunteers work together to produce coral bases and samples to be transplanted in the reef. Many of the underwater duties can be performed by snorkelling as some reefs are at a depth of 3-5m.

Why the project needs volunteers

The marine conservation project focuses on protecting and replanting coral reefs damaged by 45 years of illegal blast fishing around the islands of the Celebes Sea, Malaysian Borneo. Damaged reefs offer no hiding places for fish, and blast-rubble scattered over the sea floor leaves bare sand, which supports few species.
The practice of Cyanide fishing for the live fish trade has also reduced populations of many species to critical levels. Through raising environmental awareness, campaigning for tighter restrictions on illegal fishing, and volunteers’ conservation efforts, the project is creating solutions to these problems and aiding the recovery of the reef and greater ocean environment.
By collecting fragments of hard and soft corals and transplanting them into damaged areas, volunteers are aiding the recovery of these habitats and increasing biodiversity. Greater fish populations encourage larger predators such as reef sharks and rays to remain resident in this marine sanctuary, which is the ultimate goal.

Volunteers have made a huge difference in marine conservation in this area. Since volunteers have started at the project, fish are more plentiful, the coral is growing and there are more turtles and sharks. The increase in marine life is because of the work volunteers have done helping replant coral off the island. Some of the coral is now saucepan sized, and there is an incredible difference in fish numbers in these planted areas versus the non-planted parts. 

More Information

Read more about the Borneo Marine Conservation Project including accommodation, location, extra activities, climate and what makes Globalteer different.

Read More about the Project


Volunteer Placement Fee

For volunteers without certification your placement fee also covers the cost of gaining your PADI certification as detailed below. Diving volunteers who already have PADI certification will automatically qualify for a discount.
Dive Certification
Dive volunteers with no certification can gain PADI certification during their placement as follows:
  • To gain your PADI Open Water Certification you must volunteer for a minimum of two weeks
  • To gain your PADI Advanced Open Water Certification you must volunteer for a minimum of four weeks
  • To gain your PADI Advanced Open Water and your Emergency First Response Certification you must volunteer for a minimum of six weeks
  • To gain your PADI Advanced Open Water, Emergency First Response and Rescue Diver Certification you must volunteer for a minimum of eight weeks
Discounts for PADI certified dive volunteers

Scuba diving volunteers with PADI open water certification or higher are eligible for a discount.

If you have a PADI Open Water certificate then you will receive a discount of £160 / US$210 for durations of two weeks or more.

If you have a PADI Advanced Open Water certificate then you will receive a discount of £320 / US$420 for durations of four weeks or more.

If you have an Emergency First Response certification then you will receive a discount of £480 / US$630 for durations of six weeks or more.

If you have a PADI  Rescue Diver certification then you will receive a discount of £640 / US$840 for durations of eight weeks or more.

Start dates

Unqualified divers looking to get their PADI Open Water certification must start their placement on the 1st or 3rd Monday of the month.

Open water certified divers looking to get their PADI Advanced Open water certification must start on the 2nd or 4th Monday of the month. 

Advanced qualified divers looking to get their Emergency First Response and PADI Rescue Diver certificiations can arrive on any Monday. 

What your volunteer placement fee includes
  • Airport pick up and transfer from local airport to the project.
  • Accommodation for the duration of your stay at the centre.
  • All main meals.
  • Induction and training.
  • Full in country support from the project staff.
  • Comprehensive information brochure.
  • Assistance and advice for travelling to Borneo.

The volunteer placement fee does not include the cost of flights or visas although information can be provided on request.

Groups and families are welcome at this project. Returning volunteers and those doing multiple Globalteer projects will receive a discount of US$70 / GBP£50.


Reserve Your Place

Application process & requirements

The minimum age for volunteering is 18 years old. No previous experience or qualifications are necessary but we do require volunteers to be reasonably fit to cope with tasks on land in the tropical heat and the lifting of dive tanks. Travel insurance is compulsory for this project.

PADI course requirements are for applicants to be able to swim 200m with mask, snorkel and fins. This is also relevant to volunteers not undertaking PADI courses.

Please email if you are unsure of your ability. Volunteers must also be respectful and open minded to the cultural differences they will encounter in Malaysia. You must be able to speak English. Volunteers must have a similar ideology to the mission of the conservation centre.
  1. Click on the link below to fill out an application form.
  2. Add "@globalteer.org" to your E-mail safe list to ensure that you receive a response.
  3. Your application will be reviewed and if accepted you will be notified via E-mail within one week.
  4. Pay your deposit to secure your placement within one week of acceptance.
  5. Research your destination, book your flight, inoculations and ask us any questions you may have.
  6. Full amount is to be paid 10 weeks before the start of your volunteer placement.
  7. A comprehensive information file will be sent to you with all information including a packing list, essential personal kit list, useful language phrases, volunteer rules, useful phone contacts and full location information.
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