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Waitui Conservation FIJI

About

Waitui Conservation is an exciting new project conducting marine conservation and monitoring on the beautiful coral reefs of Fiji. Volunteers will be trained and certified in PADI scuba diving courses, as well as Reef Check coral reef surveying and CoralWatch monitoring training. We work together with local communities to raise awareness of environmental issues and help address challenges they face. Located on the stunning island of Nananu-i-ra, volunteers can enjoy crystal clear waters, beautiful beaches, and endless water-sports such as windsurfing, kitesurfing, kayaking and more! Join us to experience the amazing Fijian culture, learn to dive, and help conserve our marine environment!

Reviews

Default avatar
Florence
10/10
Yes, I recommend this program

Life as a Marine Science Intern with Waitui Conservation

Set in a stunning location I will remember my days at Waitui forever. Every day we followed the same schedule. Breakfast was followed by land based study. This included writing up maps, evaluating data collected on the health of the reef such as evidence of storm damage, bleaching etc. In addition, we made protected species lists to educate others on safe fishing practices and ecotourism. Logging fish and coral species (hard and soft) for our species inventory lists as well as mapping potential survey sites for collecting more data.
I learnt so much about coral reef health, managing local marine protected areas, working with the community and of course meeting great people and making friends for life! After lunch, the afternoons were spent diving in the pristine waters surrounding our little island. Not only do you have unlimited diving access to some of the most marine rich waters in the world but you get to make a difference and collect data where none has been collected before.
At the end of each day no where is more perfect than Nananu-I-Ra to just relax. This is where the social aspect of island life comes in with a few cold beers, hammocks, music, dinner, traditional Fijian 'Kava' ceremonies and much more!
The island is remote, 20 mins from the mainland by boat with no shops. Internet is possible and does work on the island (although it can go down during storms). Some people may find this hard at first but after a couple of weeks you will be enchanted by the island, by the way of life and in the end you may never want to leave at all!

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Staff Interviews

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

Sophie Clay

Job Title
Project Director

Did you volunteer abroad? If so, where and what inspired you to go?

Sophie: I have volunteered for various conservation projects all over the world! I started in Guatemala with an amazing group rehabilitating animals that have been confiscated from the illegal wildlife trade in order to release them back into the wild. Since then my volunteering has become focused on marine environments and includes artificial reef construction and coral nursery projects in Thailand, sea turtle research in West Africa, and coral reef monitoring in Cambodia.

I was inspired to volunteer abroad due to my passion for the ocean and desire to become more involved with conservation and protection. As I became more and more determined to make a career in marine conservation I also appreciated the diversity of practical experience it is possible to get through volunteering. Volunteering gives you an opportunity to get to know people and places in a unique way that I personally find far more meaningful than just visiting places.

How does your organization differ from other ones in the industry?

Sophie: Waitui Conservation is a volunteer project with a difference! We are one of very few organizations actually certifying our volunteers to an established standard in a recognized global surveying methodology – Reef Check. This is critical to enable us to submit our data to various organizations, and to ensure a high quality of data collection. Furthermore, it enables volunteers to continue using their skills to participate in marine conservation and monitoring long after they leave us!

We believe this is one of our strongest points and clearly sets us apart from the majority of other volunteer projects out there. Without this certification process and adherence to standards and prerequisites, there is less guarantee of quality data collection and therefore less useful data!

We want to contribute as much as possible to global efforts to conserve and protect our marine environments, therefore ensuring our data is used by as many people as possible is key. After one month with Waitui Conservation, volunteers will be certified as Reef Check EcoDiver, PADI Reef Health Surveyor Distinctive Specialty Diver; and PADI CoralWatch Distinctive Specialty Diver.

How do you think volunteer abroad will change over the next 10 years?

Sophie: Volunteering abroad is becoming increasingly popular, with more and more people choosing to travel ethically and contribute to causes or programs meaningful to them. Whilst it is fantastic and inspiring that so many people are choosing to volunteer abroad, volunteers must take care to research organizations thoroughly prior to choosing a program.

With more and more projects popping up all over the world, with little or no regulation, it is important to choose an organization who acts responsibly and has a strong ethical grounding, rather than one focused just on generating money! It would be great to see stronger feedback and reporting, and a greater focus on regulation and contribution to recognized and established programs. Through integrating established standards into projects, organizations can offer a guaranteed standard, much like we have done by making Reef Check and CoralWatch our key surveying methodologies!

Do your volunteers require certain qualifications or go through a training process?

Sophie: All of our volunteers will be trained to globally established and recognized standards during their time with Waitui Conservation. The first stage for many will be learning to dive and becoming a PADI Advanced Open Water Diver! Then we move on to the Science Training which brings together Reef Check EcoDiver training, PADI Distinctive Specialty courses, and Project AWARE courses to ensure a high standard of training delivery.

Waitui Conservation embraces established training agencies for three reasons: firstly we believe that through contributing to established programs such as Reef Check and Project AWARE we make global conservation efforts stronger; secondly, we feel that these programs enable us to ensure we meet high standards and work to agreed requirements, therefore ensuring better training and ultimately better data collection; and finally, volunteers have something to take away with them and recognition of the skills they have learned which they can then use in the future!