Marine Conservation Volunteer Program in Cambodia
90% Rating
(5 Reviews)

Marine Conservation Volunteer Program in Cambodia

Marine Conservation Cambodia is always looking for volunteers and interns to help us continue our efforts in protecting Cambodia's marine environment as well as contributing to the well being of the local communities. We are looking for volunteers who wish to support us in realizing our mission and goals.

If you feel you have something to offer the project please contact us. The more support we get the bigger difference we can make. Marine Conservation Cambodia has great opportunities for you to be involved in our crucial activities to save Cambodia's precious marine life.

Locations
Asia » Cambodia
Length
1-2 Weeks
2-4 Weeks
Currency
USD

Questions & Answers

Program Reviews

  • Impact
    86%
  • Support
    84%
  • Fun
    88%
  • Value
    88%
  • Safety
    82%

Program Reviews (5)

Default avatar
Alex
Female
20 years old
Palo Alto, CA
Northeastern University

A positive impact on me and the ocean!

10/10

Marine Conservation Cambodia was one of the best experiences of my life. I decided to do my three month university internship with MCC after reading many helpful reviews from past volunteers and contacting their very responsive staff (Delphine is incredibly good with emails considering you have to stand on the pier to get the best internet service!)

There is no denying that living on the island takes a lot of adjustment. The bungalows have two barrels of water (fresh and salt) for bucket showers, and squatty potties. You have to save up your laundry all week and then take it with you to mainland to get it washed because there is often not enough freshwater to waste on laundry. It is vital to cooperate with constantly changing volunteers and make sure the living and working environment is beneficial and harmonious for everyone

One thing I think MCC should have volunteers be more aware of is the children and dogs. I, personally, love kids and puppies, but for some volunteers it was more difficult. Paul has four dogs and one had just had eight puppies before I arrived, which was a lot to handle at first. His four kids have to be watched often and are still learning manners and when to give personal space. I brought books and another volunteer brought watercolors and pens which can keep the kids entertained and occupied. I think it’s good to be prepared to work with the two older kids an hour a week so they learn from a variety of different people continuously.

Besides all of this, MCC is generally amazing. The staff is always open to new ideas and so many new protocols and volunteer’s suggestions were implemented just in the short time I was there. A new bungalow was built, two gardens were started, a children’s play was created, and the volunteers began cooking and doing dishes—all while continuing with daily life on the island.

I learned how to dive in a very comprehensive way (I received both my Open Water and Advanced while there). Amick, one of the MCC coordinators, took time out of conducting seahorse research to teach me the basics when they didn’t have a dive instructor. I continued to do practice dives with Brayden, the team scientist, and Ju, a Tech diving volunteer. Once MCC hired a dive instructor, I was already thoroughly prepared and passed easily because of their constant help.

Just while I was here, MCC created an MFMA proposal for the Cambodian government, an EU proposal about oyster reefs, multiple seahorse surveys, tagged seahorses as part of a PhD project, in addition to coral reef assessments and reports for both Koh Seh and nearby islands. The Koh Seh reef has some of the best water quality in the area and by far the largest biodiversity, which really drives volunteers to continue with conservation. I really enjoyed not being forced into daily tedious chores by renowned scientists and instead working closely with trained researchers who had many years of experience to actually fully learn their skills.

Living on the island was definitely a growing experience but I think MCC helped me in every way. Everyone pitched in to teach me how to make spaghetti sauce for Friday dinner. Everyone gathered together to play Fun Fact Friday every week in order to bond and relax after the workweek. Everyone surprised me on my birthday with cake and a party, and did so for the other five people who also had birthdays while I was there. I met people from all over the world (Australia, Holland, Canada, Belgium, UK, Austria, Italy etc.) and of all ages: other people on university internships but there were also older volunteers—one mother even brought her six year old! MCC is a community and a family and one of the best places to stay for marine conservation and learning.

Default avatar
Juanita
Female
59 years old
San Pedro

Decide what kind of experience you hope have

7/10

If you want to be part of a young, inexperienced crowd who's OK with the idea of island beautification physical work as much as the possibility of data collection, and you love the idea of living adventurously with the bare necessities, this could be the place for you.

If you're experienced in traveling and don't need to endure more discomfort from living 'native', if you're serious about research and hope to learn from trained Scientists and Researchers, you may wish to choose another venue. If the lack of generated electricity to help cool you down 24/7 may be a problem, or you need internet access for academic or personal reasons, look elsewhere. It's primarily run by less experienced, and fairly disorganised twenty-somethings ..or younger, which can give it a bit of a frat'/sorority "vibe".

The camp is now three years old but still has a way to go to offer adequate accommodation in more durable structures. Probably of greatest importance is the need to implement a policy on health and hygiene due to the potential disease risks from the droppings of nine dogs and innumerable island rats that carry various viruses and bacteria. Currently there isn't one, and it's up to the individual to clean up the fouled common areas ...or not. On a positive note, a hand-washing station was implemented after it was suggested. As there were eight new born puppies being handled by the four resident young children and volunteers alike, there were several cases of sickness which poop scooping, washing of lodge floors and tables, and hand-washing should alleviate. At the suggestion phase are steps to minimise rodent presence in the kitchen and cabins. Notably absent is the lack of an orientation to an emergency plan in the case of severe illness, accident, or fire. This should be of concern, because even if the risk is small, there should be well circulated plans known to all residents, and the fire extinguishers should be dated with their last inspection.

The final safety issue concerns the condition of the dive equipment. Tanks should have an annual inspection stamp, be cleaned, and every 5 years be pressure tested. Dust caps should be in place. Regulators are life support equipment and should be serviced at least annually. The BCDs here are worn and prone to auto inflation. Luckily the risk of rapid ascent from depth is nil in these island conditions (my deepest dive was 5.2m)!

If the above safety measures were seriously addressed I would recommend this programme to those not expecting too much of an academic experience, but wanting a first time away from home adventure.

Default avatar
Jessica
Female
24 years old
Johannesburg, South Africa

Marine Conservation Cambodia- What an amazing experience!

10/10

Traveling alone for the first time to a foreign country can be daunting for some. That was certainly the case with me until I arrived at the Oceanarium at Kep Pier which is too run by Marine Conservation Cambodia. I was met by Paul Ferber and ,the founder of MCC, and his amazing family and I was instantly made feel welcome and at ease. He filled me in about the on-going projects and about my soon to be home for the next three months. With that concluded we made the hour long boat journey to the secluded island of Koh Seh. Upon arrival I was made feel welcome by all- volunteers and staff alike- given a tour of our island, inhabited only by the MCC team and a fisheries police station, and then showed to my bungalow which was shared with another volunteer. Basic? Very, but I soon adjusted to the limited electricity and the bucket showers and it very quickly became my home, one I would hate to leave when the time came.

My first few weeks were split between completing my dive qualifications, snorkeling and Reef Check Survey training which allowed me to to partake in surveys and the monitoring of the well-being of the reefs around Keps' archipelago. I was taught how to correctly identify fish, invertebrates and substrate which allowed me plenty of time in the water to put my ID skills to practice. Once my training was completed along with my dive certifications I participated in Reef Check surveys on numerous reefs and with in a short period of time I could already see a visible improvement upon the reefs due to the decreased amount of illegal fishing in the area which the MCC patrol team works very hard to achieve. After a while the volunteers were also trained to partake in seahorse surveys which involved learning to ID seahorse species in the area, how to take measurements and record the data found on the seahorse to allow the monitoring of populations sizes and distributions. Besides diving and surveys, there were many land-based activities on the to do when the weather wasn't suitable for being in the water such as beach clean-ups, building anti-trawling devices, report writing and data entries.

Even with loads of work to do during the day there was still plenty of time to spend as you pleased during the evening. Playing volleyball, watching films, playing cards and night swims amongst the breathtakingly beautiful bioluminescence were just a few of the many ways to spend your evenings. Every second week or so we got the day off for the 'Island Swim', a swim to a neighboring island for a picnic lunch which was followed by a fun dive. Fridays were commenced with an early boat ride back to the main land to participate in interviews with local fishermen from small scale fishing villages to uncover the impact that illegal fishing was having on their livelihoods. This was always a humbling experience and it made us aware at how truly devastating illegal fishing can be and how imperative it was to try prevent it.

Working with MCC was an experience that I will forever be grateful to have had. For my whole three months I felt that my contribution was truly appreciated, that my efforts were helping to make a difference and contributing to the conservation of the oceans. I met so many amazing people who made feel like part of a team-of a family- and that was inarguable what made my experience so memorable. This is truly one organisation doing what they do for the right reasons and do it with so much passion. If you are looking to have one great time while contributing to a great cause I would recommend MCC without a doubt.

Default avatar
Gabriella
Female
24 years old
Singapore
Durham University

Marine Conservation Cambodia, not your average volunteering experience…

10/10

After landing in Phnom Penh in the early hours of a Monday morning, I made the three-hour journey South to Kep, a coastal town popular with holidaying locals. Upon reaching the Oceanarium at Kep Pier, an education and research facility also established by Marine Conservation Cambodia (MCC), I was soon greeted by Paul Ferber, the organizations founding father, and his large, excitable but extremely welcoming family - dogs and all! Together we made the one hour boat ride further South to the remote and picturesque Island of Koh Seh. I was immediately made to feel welcome by all of the team members and the other volunteers and I was soon shown to my rustic bungalow, which I would be sharing with two other volunteers. Accommodation was certainly basic, but I very quickly got used to the bucket showers and intermittent electricity. The following day I received a tour of the island, and I was amazed to realize how small it actually was. Asides from the MCC camp, there is a fisheries police station and no other residents or developments, making it the perfect desert island getaway.

As I was planning on volunteering with MCC for two months, there was sufficient time for me to be trained in the practice of Reef Check Surveys, which aid in monitoring the state of the reefs in a proposed MPA around Koh Seh and neighboring islands. This meant that I spent my first couple of weeks learning how to correctly identify fish and invertebrate species, and the reef substrate, in addition to spending plenty of time in the water, snorkeling and diving while practicing my ID skills. In the weeks that followed I helped to perform Reef Check Surveys on a number of different reefs, and given that MCC had only last year relocated to Koh Seh and begun work in the area, it was fascinating to watch as the reefs improved in condition and the marine life flourished, even in just the 8 weeks I was there. I was also trained to ID seahorse species commonly found in the area. This meant that when I wasn’t doing Reef Checks, I was carrying out seahorse surveys aimed at monitoring population sizes and distributions of this vulnerable animal in the area. However when weather conditions made diving difficult, there was still plenty to do on the island to keep busy such as beach clean-ups, tending to MCC’s garden and building anti-trawling devices. A fortnightly highlight was the ‘island swim’; a 1.2km (noncompulsory!) swim from Koh Seh to the neighboring island Koh Angkrong, where we would have a picnic on the beach followed by a leisurely fun dive along the reef. Evenings were spent playing volleyball, socializing in the main bungalow with an Angkor or two, round a campfire, watching a film/documentary or swimming off the end of the pier in the spectacular bioluminescence. Additionally, every Friday morning we would head back to the mainland to interview small-scale fishermen from local fishing communities to determine the impact of illegal Vietnamese fishing activity on their livelihoods. Subsequently volunteers had the choice of either returning to the island for a relaxing couple of days, or staying on the mainland for some Internet and creature comforts.

MCC is not affiliated with any commercial voluntourism organization; therefore it is clear that its main purpose is to make a tangible positive difference to Cambodia’s marine environments, something that wouldn’t be possible without volunteers contributing their time and expertise. MCC is working at the frontline of conservation, with Paul and a group of passionate individuals regularly patrolling the area for illegal trawlers in an attempt to conserve the marine environments integrity. For the entirety of the time I was volunteering with MCC, I felt like my contribution was appreciated and integral to their work conserving Cambodia’s ocean and its inhabitants. However, ultimately it was the people at MCC that made my experience so unforgettable. I met such a fantastic team with individuals of all ages and from all walks of life who shared the same drive to help the environment. I wish MCC the very best with all their future work and would recommend this volunteering opportunity to anyone who is looking to contribute to a worthwhile cause while having a hell of a lot of fun!

Default avatar
Shannon
Female
32 years old
San Francisco, CA
University of California- San Diego

Dabbling in Marine Conservation in Cambodia

8/10

Having absolutely no background in marine conservation, no experience traveling in Southeast Asia, and no knowledge of the threat to marine habitats and resources in Cambodia, this trip was a learning lesson. But what an incredible outcome!
A friend of a friend had suggested looking at Marine Conservation Cambodia (MCC) when I expressed an interest in volunteering in Asia. Eager to expand my volunteer efforts to something other than teaching English, one look at MCC and the project's opportunity to scuba dive each day had me sold. I naively signed up for four weeks without any real extensive research into their conservation efforts.
But it all worked out for the best! I got a taste of marine conservation, learned a ton of new stuff, and truly felt a part of the team. The program on Koh Seh is still early stages, which is both good and bad. Good because you can help suggest new ideas and see them quickly put into action. Bad because it can seem a bit disorganized at times. But it'll all get sorted in due time, especially with the passionate, dedicated staff they have!
I will say, if you are the type that constantly needs to be busy, you will definitely need to take a step back here. The project moves at a relaxed pace. Days are filled with research dives, beach clean ups, scientific presentations, snorkel identification sessions, etc, etc. But there is always down time in the evenings. And the island is secluded to say the least, so resign yourself to a slower pace and you'll have the best of times!

How can this program be improved?

As mentioned above, this program is still a bit early stages. It's also run like a start up, not like the big organizations with a lot of marketing muscle and big admin and staff teams. Day to day scheduling and overall organization could stand to be improved with a bit more experienced management.

About The Provider

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Marine Conservation Cambodia, offers volunteer and internship opportunities In the fields of Marine Conservation and Marine Research, as a fully licensed research facility we specialize in Seahorse research in Cambodia, We also continue to research the surrounding reefs and benthic areas to make sure our

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