Gili Shark Conservation Project


For decades, Indonesia has been ranked as the number one shark fishing nation in the world. Make a real difference in conservation through research and join our research team in Gili Air.

The Gili Shark Conservation Project is a small conservation and data collection program. It is the first of its kind in the Gili Islands, and takes an active role in conservation issues in Indonesia’s three Gili Islands; Gili Trawangan, Gili Meno, and Gili Air.

We are always looking for enthusiastic people who want to live in paradise and make a difference during their holiday. Help the sharks and the community of Gili Air by giving your time and love. You don’t need to be a shark expert or a diver to join our project, however a passion and commitment to shark conservation is important. We appreciate all the unique skills that you can bring to our project and welcome people of every corner of the globe.


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Yes, I recommend this program

Awesome project to give your travels or holiday a 'purpose' to help save our planet!

My 2 weeks at GiliShark Conservation was above and beyond what was expected. All the staff are extremely friendly and approachable which made my experience very accommodating. Big shout out to Andre and Zara for their patience while teaching us new skills and information in regards to saving our marine life. Rose and Andraes are also beautiful people who made my stay at Villa Nangka very relaxing.
This program is a great way to give back to the community while also become aware and further educated about coral reefs and marine life - not only around the Gili's, but around the world. The diving is also incredible with a wide variety of marine life I have not seen before (i.e. frog fish, white tip reef sharks) which also made this experience very magical!

What would you improve about this program?
Have the option to complete the program with finding your own accommodation and food. I would have loved to stay another week or so but the program price is very expensive.
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Yes, I recommend this program

Gili Shark Conservation

What an awesome experience! I went on this adventure with my daughter, Haley, who is studying marine sciences. I am an inexperienced diver, having received my basic underwater certification just before the trip. The Gili Shark Team is fantastic with a tremendous amount of experience and very welcoming to all levels of divers/experience in marine conservation. Every day was an adventure where we were exposed to the beautiful waters surrounding Gili Islands and the impact that we have on our marine environment. Andre, Zara, Cece and Jo made us feel right at home and part of the team from day one. The crew at Oceans5 are top notch with a tremendous amount of experience and accommodating to all levels of divers. We spent two weeks on the island and my only regret is that we did not stay longer!! I highly recommend this experience to anyone that wants to have a great diving adventure and also learn a tremendous amount about the efforts being made by these heroes working to have a positive impact on our marine environment. For anyone that is hesitant about joining the efforts, or sending their young adult to join the effort- don't hesitate. It is a life changing opportunity in a wonderful, safe and welcoming place! Go for it!

Hope to be back.


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Yes, I recommend this program

Sharkies For Life!

My time with the Gili Shark Conservation has been rewarding in so many ways. I've spent 7 weeks with the Sharkies now, and wish I could stay forever!

I'll start from the beginning. I fell in love with Gili Air in the first few days I was here. It's a wonderfully charming little island. Everyone is genuinely friendly and not just because they want to sell you something. They're wonderful. It's so easy to get around, just a short walk to any of your favorite spots! I never really felt like it was too small though; there are still restaurants I haven't tried, places I haven't been, and new things I could do if I were here for longer. The food is amazing - so much variety! Not all of it is cheap (by Indonesian standards) but still cheap compared to the United States. Many restaurants have live music, and some places even have DJs for beach dance parties on Fridays if you're into that. All in all, this island is just an incredibly fun, friendly, fantastic place to spend some time!

Now for the important part, The Gili Shark Conservation itself! I loved this program and learned so much. They have a lot of projects currently running, all of which are working towards clear goals that I absolutely believe they will achieve. During my stay here I gained two PADI specialties: Scientific Diver and Aware Shark Conservation Specialty Diver. In addition to those qualifications I was able to participate in Roving Surveys, Reef Check Surveys, Coral Health Index Surveys, Coral Restoration Projects, RUV dropping and watching, Dives Against Debris, and Beach Cleanups. I learned about Indicator Species that are integral to the health of the reef, how to identify them, and why they're important. I also learned about different kinds of coral and what roles they occupy on the reef.

Of course you can't have the Gili SHARK Conservation without the sharks! I learned so much about sharks. We learned about their crucial role as apex predators on the reef, and both the dangers to them and efforts being made in shark conservation. On that note, one of the Gili Shark Conservation's ultimate goals is to collect enough data around the Gili islands to prove to the Indonesian government that this area is an extremely important place for sharks. Several dive sites are actually nurseries for White Tip and Black Tip Reef Sharks. If we can prove that this area is a crucial habitat, ideally the Indonesian Government will extend the protection of the current Marine Protected Area (MPA). As Indonesia is at the very top of the list of countries that fish and kill the most sharks, this would be extremely beneficial. On a fun note, I did get to dive with quite a few sharks while I was here! It's amazing to be able to spend time with such ancient and important creatures. It's not frightening in the slightest, just exciting and super cool!

Being a part of the Sharkie team and diving on the Sharkie boat is a treat itself. The team is made up of some of the most wonderful people I've ever met. Zara is the sweetest, most brilliant, wonderful person. She encouraged me in so many ways and inspired me in others. She works incredibly hard but always had time for me when I needed it. Love you Zara! Andre, the lead scientist, taught me so much about Marine Biology. As I've been considering that as a career I'm so glad I was able to learn from someone who's definitely excelling in the field. His enthusiasm is contagious and made me excited about even the more dull aspects of research. He's also an awesome, easy going, and fun guy overall; we shared many laughs. Jocelyn brings so much energy and joy to the group. She's a blast to be around and will always put a smile on your face. Jocy's just the best. Katon is a wonderful dive guide and one of the most genuine and fun people you will ever meet. He's a joy to be around and his dance moves are legendary. I felt extremely safe and comfortable diving with all of them and it really felt like I was part of the family.

During my time here, I lived both in the house near Villa Nangka and in the rooftop room above the pool at Oceans 5. Both were cute, clean, and nice. I had no real complaints and though communal living can have its challenges it was honestly a very rewarding experience. I made friends that I'm confident I'll have for the rest of my life. It was fun!

Oh, and the diving! The diving is incredible. I actually came to Gili Air expecting the reefs to be considerably damaged from all the dynamite fishing that used to take place here. However, I was pleasantly surprised! There is some dead coral, rubble, and overall damage, but really not that much. There's also very limited bleaching here which is amazing. So many of the reefs are teeming with life - fish everywhere and vibrant, healthy corals. It's truly incredible. The more I learned about fish and coral the more I was able to appreciate the variety of life and life itself.

All in all, my experience with the Gili Shark Conservation was really positive. I learned a ton, made so many friends, loved living the Gili Air island life, increased my diving skills tenfold, and also feel like I made a real impact as a volunteer. I absolutely recommend doing this program. I will forever remember it as one of the best experiences of my life. Thank you Gili Shark Conservation!

If you did this all over again, what's one thing you would change?
If I did this over again, I would do my Divemaster program separately from the Gili Shark Conservation. What I mean by this is I would stay a month or more volunteering with the Sharkies, and then do my Divemaster when my volunteer program ended. I basically ended up doing this anyways. I was originally signed up to work with Gili Shark Conservation for 7 weeks and simultaneously get my Divemaster certification with Oceans 5. Partway through, however, I started feeling frustrated that I would need to start assisting with multi-day classes all the time for the Divemaster certification and would therefore hardly dive with the Sharkies at all for the remaining weeks. I wasn't willing to give up all the research diving and office science sessions. I ended up deciding to do some other Divemaster things that wouldn't cut into my Gili Shark Conservation schedule while I finished my time with them. Now, after I'm officially done in a few days, I will get my own homestay and focus on and finish my Divemaster for the next several weeks. This isn't to say that it's not possible to do both at the same time; many people do. I personally just prefer focusing on one thing at a time, and I'm really glad I made the decision to get the most out of my time with the Sharkies.
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Yes, I recommend this program

Amazing team, great diving, all toward improving the MPA!

I had an amazing time, improved my diving skills and got to learn new and apply research methods in the field.

The team is warm and welcoming and Zara is doing an amazing job at coordinating all the activities and providing training for the new team of volonteers.

The research methods are clear and compared to some other programs all data gathered in the field is transferred to the government in the aim of improving the marine protected.

You get to dive everyday and participate in various research methods that are all in the aim of increasing the protection of the MPA.

We also got to participate to ongoing project and experience the around coral restoration which was a great plus.

I came to the program with little experience in the field and Andre (lead scientist) was great at answering all the questions and explaining how all connect together :)

I would love to come back and would definitely miss the team. Definitely recommends for anyone who wants to get to know the field better and work towards a good cause!

What is your advice to future travelers on this program?
As it is a voluntary program, you will be with volunteer that can have quite different background and involvement in the field. This said, everyone I met is greatly motivated to make a difference.
I would recommend this program is you are a student (either in the field or not) and if you wish to broaden your knowledge in the field of environmental conservation.
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Yes, I recommend this program


I spent 3 weeks with the Gili Shark Conservation Team and I wish I could have stayed longer! I admire the enthusiasm and passion of the conservation team and so much enjoyed my experience working with and learning from them. By the end of my stay I had learnt so much about the different methods of data collection and fish identification. The volunteering we did was very structured and there was always something to do. I felt really at home during my stay and the team is so welcoming!
Gili Air is just a wonderful place to be - the food is so yummy, the local people are so friendly and there's a very relaxed atmosphere on the island. There's plenty to do on your days off too and I will definitely be returning to Gili Air some day. Thank you so much to the Gili Shark Team for making my first time to Indonesia such an enjoyable experience.

What was the most unfamiliar thing you ate?
Snake fruit, Gado-Gado, Nasi Goreng, Bakso, Jackfruit

Staff Interviews

These are in-depth Q&A sessions with program leaders.

What is your favorite travel memory?

My favourite travel memory goes back to when I travelled to Bali for the first time. A friend of mine and I went to Nusa Penida, which is an island located 40 minutes away on the east side of Bali. We knew it was possible to see manta rays, so it was the main reason why we decided to go dive over there.

We dived 5 times across 3 days. The first day we went to dive on the north side of the island, meaning we would not see manta rays, as they hang out on the south. Still, the crystal clear water and the abundance of fish was amazing!

Then the second day arrived. Overexcited, we made our way to Manta Point on the South of Nusa Penida. As we backrolled in the water, I remember all my muscles stiffening and my skin shivering right away. So cold!! As I am used to diving around the Gili Islands, where the water temperature is around 28 degrees, at Manta Point the water temperature was 22 degrees! It did not matter, as we made our way to the cleaning station, I saw my first manta! I forgot about the temperature of the water immediately and was mesmerized by these amazing creatures.

In total, we saw 5 manta rays swimming above us, circling around the summit of the cleaning station. The feeling inside of me was pure joy. A little bit of craziness, mixed with a big adrenaline rush. I’ll never forget my first time diving with mantas and I can’t wait to see these amazing pelagics again.

How have you changed/grown since working for your current company?

I’ve changed in a few different ways since I started working with the Shark Team. First of all, I don't see the ocean as I used to. It's not only a place to dive and have fun; the ocean means way more to my eyes now. I’ve realized how important it is for all life on earth. I realized that the ocean is very vulnerable to our actions and that it is not indestructible. We need to respect the oceans and protect it any way we can. I am definitely more aware and try to do what I can to protect it.

I have changed many habits since living on Gili Air. The first one is my use of single-use plastic. I changed some things I used to do in my everyday life. Also, now I always try to pick up any garbage I see while diving. It's little gestures, but when you add them all together, a little becomes a lot!

What is the best story you've heard from a return student?

It’s hard to choose only one. What is truly amazing is to watch a student or a diver returning from a dive where they saw sharks. One or many, swimming or resting, it doesn’t matter! The smile on their face and the excitement in their eyes is incredible. It makes you feel so happy and proud to do what you are doing. I love seeing this.

If you could go on any program that your company offers, which one would you choose and why?

If I could choose one it would be the IDC program. First of all, because it would be great to be able to share by teaching my passion for the ocean. Being an instructor is more than only teaching about diving techniques, skills and science: it’s is also an opportunity to communicate the importance of the ocean. Sharing methods and ways on how to protect our marine ecosystems and how each of us can make a difference.

Being surrounded by people with the same passions definitely makes that passion grows even bigger and so we can achieve greater things.

What makes your company unique? When were you especially proud of your team?

The biggest aspect that makes my company so unique is that, besides doing amazing conservation work for the ocean, they are also trying their best to work closely with the local community.

I understand that sometimes it can be difficult to mix different cultures, and even with the difficulties encountered at first, they pushed through because it was important for them to give back to the Gili Air community who have given them so much already.

With all their efforts, they’ve developed great relationships and they are now evolving many different projects with community reach. The Plastic-Free Paradise movement regroups four different projects that I believe will make a big difference for our island over time.

What makes me very proud is to witness the commitment of every single individual taking part in the Gili Shark Conservation project. Since it was created, it did really great things, even with a small team.

The impact the project has on the island since the beginning, and the evolving methods to study our oceans, our fish, our reefs, and the results coming out from it so far, this couldn't have happened without the dedication and commitment of everybody who has ever been involved in the project.

It makes me really proud to say that I am part of this team. And this couldn't have without the dedication and commitment of everybody who has ever been involved in the project.

What do you believe to be the biggest factor in being a successful company?

For me, it's definitely honesty. From the leaders of the project to the rest of the staff and all our volunteers, we are nothing but honest with each other. This makes an amazing difference on a day to day basis. Every day, I do not feel like I’m at work. I do it because I love it. I'm always happy at work and this has a lot to do with the fact that I love what I’m doing, but also because of the people whom I'm spending most of my days with. Honest relationships make things easy!