marine conservation cambodia, scuba diving cambodia, coral farming, coral reefs

Save Cambodian Marine Life

About

Save Cambodian Marine Life is a local NGO in Cambodia that has started to help protect the local reefs surrounding Koh Rong Samloem. When you come to us as a volunteer you will learn, experience and work in different areas of marine conservation and learn how to scuba dive. Once you are a trained diver you will start to take part in our variety of marine conservation programs. A key marine life survey is our seahorse survey which is conducted at a local site. The collected data is provided to the Cambodian Government, aiming to enhance the establishment of a Marine Protected Area in the local Koh Rong archipelago. Reef clean up dives are a regular activity done to remove rubbish that has drifted onto the reefs. You will also help us to build and maintain our coral nursery on a regular basis. Once a coral frame is healthy enough, you will assist in transporting it back to a local reef or to our artificial reef that is to be built in the very near future with your help.

Reviews

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Carys
9/10
Yes, I recommend this program

Had an an awesome time on this volunteer program. Was fully immersed into the Cambodian culture and got to help out with the local community. The diving was great (water was so warm!) and we were provided with fantastic information and knowledge. It was great to be a part of the marine scientific research and to make a difference with the local coral reef. I found it especially interesting as I am currently studying marine biology and did a project looking at the coral nurseries and fish abundance. I highly recommend for anyone with a passion for the ocean.

What would you improve about this program?
The program and staff were fantastic, only thing I can say is that I did get a bit sick of rice - but I suppose it is all part of the experience!
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Justin
10/10
Yes, I recommend this program

Thank you so much, this experience made my trip more than I could have ever asked for. James was amazing. His experience, work ethic and want to have fun attitude made Save Cambodian Marine Life what it is. We had a blast, and I'm glad I was able to meet James. The program, even though we were the first to volunteer, has so much going for it.

We met locals, learned about their culture and went scuba diving every day. We cleaned the artificial reefs that you see in the pictures, as well as assembled a whole bunch more. One of the best experiences was watching the artificial reefs slowly grow, and by the time our week was up we even had a few fish that were calling it home!

Give this a try, absolutely fun experience. I HIGHLY recommend! Thank you again James, I really look forward to seeing you again on our next adventure!

What would you improve about this program?
Honestly, steps were taken to improve everything that could have been. As said before we were the first to be there, so we helped set up whatever we could. I can only imagine what they have accomplished since January!
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Beth
9/10
Yes, I recommend this program

Fantastic experience! SCML gave me a chance to dive everyday, experience different locations and kinds of diving, while helping marine life. I got to stay on a beautiful island, on a pier, overlooking clear water and green forested islands. My time there was meaningful, peaceful and slowed down because you are disconnected from the busy life of phones, internet, etc. I was involved in a variety of projects from protecting marine life, to surveying, to working with kids at a school, to "greening" the SCML location. A very cool stop on my journey! Great program and great people!

What would you improve about this program?
The program was just starting up when I arrived. A lot of the things we tried were for the first time and some kinks had to be worked out with what we did. I think once these kinks are worked through and a smooth routine is developed, it will run better.
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Martijn
9/10
Yes, I recommend this program

I had a fantastic time on Koh Rong Samloem and would recommend this program to anyone. It was my first time diving but the instructors were great and let me do lots of different things (collecting coral, building coral nurseries, seahorse survey, fish identification course). Furthermore we had loads of fun helping to build a school, exploring the island and drinking with locals. I just wish I could've stayed longer!

What would you improve about this program?
The food wasn't the best but from what I've heard that's already been taken care of!
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Frankie
10/10
Yes, I recommend this program

Wow, what an amazing place to volunteer! Koh Rong Samloem is an incredibly beautiful tropical island, and by working with SCML you not only get to experience this amazing location and culture but you also get to do your part to protect it for future generations.

Programs

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Staff Interviews

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

Theresa Kienitz

Job Title
Project Manager
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What position do you hold at Save Cambodian Marine Life? What has been your career path so far?

I am SCML´s Project Manager. I studied Biology in Mainz Germany. After that I finished my Masters in Coastal and Marine Management in the Westfjords of Iceland and graduated in summer 2013.

Next I worked as a research assistant at the Carl von Ossietzky University in Oldenburg, Germany until I started working at SCML.

Working as a Volunteer during my studies at the Red Sea Environmental Center (RSEC) initiated by Robert Hofrichter, I gained first hand experiences with volunteer programs and became an open water diver here in 2009.

I started working with SCML in February and I have completed Rescue Diver course in the Gulf of Thailand. Next I plan to get certified as a Dive Master.

My research interests are in artificial reefs establishment and sustainable development.

What inspires you most about your role on a daily basis?

Working with SCML I have the chance to improve our projects and our work scope every day. As we are a new project, there is a lot of room for new creative ideas and innovations.

Learning to understand the local culture, the challenges they face and their way of living helps us to provide them with the best knowledge to improve their way of living in a more sustainable and profitable way.

What makes Save Cambodian Marine Life's programs unique?

We are an international team, combining the most important expertise to run our projects successfully. Compared to many other NGOs we have the big advantage of having a local dive instructor and dive center manager on our team who helps us to connect with the local community as well as with the Cambodian government.

Our areas of expertise are marine ecology, experience with challenges in social, environmental and economic interests and more importantly problem solving.

We are also successfully running the first coral nursery in Cambodia and are planning to expand as well as research the best practices to establish an artificial reef in the Gulf of Thailand around Koh Rong and Koh Rong Samloem.

Share with us your favorite story of a volunteer's experiences with Save Cambodian Marine Life.

One of our volunteers happened to be a circus performer, doing modeling as a mermaid. So I took her to our coral nursery frames, which are about 3 m deep, and did an underwater photo shoot with her.

Doing a photo shoot at a three meter depth was a unique and exciting experience. And we got really good shots of a mermaid cleaning algae from our coral frames. Thanks again to your great work with us, Lily la Mer.

What advice would you share with volunteers considering the Save Cambodian Marine Life program?

Pack all your skills, abilities and motivation, to make the most out of your stay in our little paradise, Koh Rong Samloem. Together we can do a lot of good things for the people here and their nature.

Be ready to entirely be here and help out the best that you can. Be prepared to leave home behind for a little while, as there is no Wi-Fi in M´psi Bay.

Our project is great for everyone who wants to escape the stress at home and concentrate on the most important things in life for a little while.