Marine Research Assistant, Volunteer Project in Indonesia

Video and Photos

Turtle: you will see a lot of them
Turtle: you will see a lot of them
Happy place
Happy place
Magical sunsets
Magical sunsets
Turtle
Turtle
Turtle's City
Turtle's City
Weekly outreach and community events. Kids are stoked.
Night out with the team plus friends
Mowies classic sunset. Good food good vibes.

About

The Gili Shark Conservation Project offer a 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.

During your stay with us you will learn how to dive/improve your dive skills, become a scientific diver and an AWARE shark conservation diver. We teach you how to conduct different kind of scientific dives and you will learn a lot about marine research and conservation efforts.

Highlights
  • Experience what it's like to live on a Paradise island in Indonesia
  • Gain your next level of scuba diving certification
  • Become a PADI scientific diver with our exclusive course
  • Become a valuable member of our research team and family

Questions & Answers

Reviews

96%
based on 38 reviews
  • Impact 9.4
  • Support 9.8
  • Fun 9.7
  • Value 9.2
  • Safety 9.8
Showing 1 - 15 of 38
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Olivia
9/10
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.
Default avatar
Scott
10/10
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.

Scott

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Janaya
10/10
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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Floriane
9/10
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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Alina
10/10
Yes, I recommend this program

LOVED IT :)

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
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Julian
8/10
Yes, I recommend this program

came for the experience, stayed for the diving, extended for the environment

although i'm quite environmentally engaged in my life at home, the reasons to participate weren't as altruistic: seeking experience and increasing my diving skills. i got what i wanted, but way more than that. besides offering dive courses with great teachers (i did rescue diver + specialty courses scientific diver + shark aware), they included me in to their research process under water as well as on the surface. it is very structured, and the team here is trying to make a difference on every possible frontier. in a fun, but also very informative way, i learned a lot from the scientists about mareen life, ecosystems, human impact, and possible solutions. i extended my time to give something back after feeling it to be more beneficial to me

If you did this all over again, what's one thing you would change?
i would have planned to stay longer in the first place, because the first 2 weeks are almost only on training the volunteers.
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Eleanor
10/10
Yes, I recommend this program

amazing!

I loved every second of my time with Gili Shark Conservation. I had been searching for some volunteering to do in my summer after my first year of university, which would challenge me and would also make a genuine positive impact on the world, and this was perfect! It combined my love for diving and biology (my degree subject), perfectly. I didn't really know what to expect, as this was the first time I'd really done anything by myself, but I flew over from England to Bali, and easily made my way to Gili Air. Zara is so helpful in organising transport for you to make sure you get there safely. We dived 5 days a week, 9 dives a week. My favourite were the dives against debris, which involved picking up litter from the ocean, its a good feeling!! While I was there I completed my PADI Advanced Open Water Diver, AWARE Shark Conservation Diver and Scientific Diver. We also learnt a lot about shark, ray and turtle ID, which is actually really cool, and a little bit about their coral restoration project. If I was there for longer I think I would've had the chance to help more on this, but even just learning about what they did was interesting!! The staff there and the locals on the island are some of the friendliest most welcoming people I've ever met, and I really did meet some people I'll never forget.
The dive shop right next door is Oceans5. The instructors are all really cool and their number one priority is safety, which I really liked. I never felt scared, even when we saw sharks!
I really admire the genuine passion and enthusiasm for all the work that the Sharkies and Oceans 5 did, and I really can not thank them enough for such a wonderful experience!!

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sam
10/10
Yes, I recommend this program

Life changing experience!

what an amazing experience! I had been searching for a unique place to do shark research and also accomplish my Dive Master certification while having a life changing experience in a foreign country. This was definitely the right choice! The Shark conservation project is very well run and you learn an incredible amount in a short time. Zara, Andre, Katon, and Josie teach you all about Sharks, Turtles, Fish ID species, and coral health (as well as helping you with all the little things about daily life on the Gilis)! The conservation project is known for the shark conservation but they do so much more. My favorite project was building artificial coral substrates, constructing them on the ocean floor, and then populating the substrates with coral polyps to regrow the reef! You really feel like you are making a difference while having the time of your life. I stayed for seven weeks and I wished I stayed for even more! Time flies when you love the work you are doing. The "Sharkies" (what the research team is called) become family after no time. Its amazing living and working with people from all different ages, backgrounds, and countries. During my time here on Gili Air I also did the Dive Master program with Oceans5 (the dive resort we share space with) and almost everyone there was amazing! The dive Instructors are top notch and focus on your development as a professional diver as well as acting as mentors. The locals are so nice and the foods amazing too! Super safe Island and plenty of fun things to do here or grab a quick boat taxi to the other islands for more adventures! I met many life long friends that I will stay in touch with forever (Zara being my all-time number 1 homie ;) She will invite you to EVERYTHING but she hates cats and Trigger fish so keep that in mind)! Looking forward to a return trip in the future! Amazing experience all around!

If you did this all over again, what's one thing you would change?
I would have either stayed longer or maybe done my dive master program before or after the Shark program. I say this because you miss some sharkie dives when you are also trying to fit in all your dive master training stuff too. But if you love accomplishing a great deal then go for both like I did and leave a certified researcher and Dive professional!
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Jamie
10/10
Yes, I recommend this program

Fantastic Project!

I had a fantastic time with the Gili Shark project. I spent two weeks with them- one getting my rescue certification, one diving with the conservation team. The dive shop they work with (Oceans 5) was fantastic and one of the best dive shops I’ve experienced. I really appreciated how much they emphasized safety as their top priority- not just making money thru certifying unqualified divers.

The people on the conservation project itself were also fantastic. They all welcomed me on day 1 and I felt like I had a family the entire time I was there. The work they do for oceanic conservation is top notch, as is the training they provided on Reef check and fish ID. I definitely wish I had more time on the project and I would go back in a heartbeat!

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Carina
10/10
Yes, I recommend this program

Open your mind and Never stop learning – and you will make an unforgettable experience

During an eight weeks gap between two jobs, I decided to go abroad to recover from my previous busy work life in Germany and clearing my head for the new job.
As a passionate scuba diver and a lover of the oceans, I was looking for a marine conservation project I can join during my gap weeks. I wanted to do something different, help the oceans and marine life and spend as much time in the water during scuba diving as I know that this makes me happy.

After extensive internet research, I found loads of projects for marine conservation to participate. As I have been many times in Asia before I was initially looking for a project in an other continent. But in the end I applied for Gili Shark Conservation at Gili Air which was my best decision.

I want to tell you why Gili Shark Conservation was finally the best choice for me:
In the beginning, I was trained by Zara to become a Scientific Diver and a Shark Aware Diver. It was very interesting and let me become more aware of the current situation in the oceans and the marine life. Although I’m a diver with around 300 dives and loads of experience I was impressed to learn so much there.

After the training and passing the tests I was able to go with the Shark team on different surveys. We were monitoring the reefs and the marine life on different dive sites around the Gili islands. We were visiting the dive sites at regular intervals, but it was never boring as we always used different survey methods. On some dives we focused on key species of fish, on other dives we were checking the health of the reef according to the “Reef-Check” method, sometimes we were photographing and monitoring turtles. We also used underwater cameras and placed them on the floor of the sea to monitor shy species like blacktip reef sharks.

The survey work is very interesting and very diverse. You will always learn something new.
We had two dives in the morning and did the paperwork in the afternoon in the office like watching the recorded videos from the underwater camera, put the data of the key species, turtles and sharks into different databases or identified turtles via special software.

From Andre the Lead Marine Biologist I learned a lot about marine life and the survey methods and data analysis. And in the weekly “Shark-Quiz” he always challenged the knowledge of the team with questions about marine life and gave us extraordinary know-how about the oceans.

Two days a week we had off and we had time on our own. After a few days when you get rid of the normal tourist view who usually just stay for max 5 days on the island, you will recognize Gili Air more and more as a small hidden paradise. With all the lovely local people, the different places, the fantastic food, and the many activities to discover – you won't get bored. Although the island is not big, it offers so much you can do – even if you just want to lay on the beach and relax.

The Sharkies, that’s how the members of the GSC team are called, are amazing and they become like a second family for me during my stay at Gili Air. I recognized that all of them really love their job, have fun and that they are the perfect team working together.

Zara was wonderful. She was organising everything perfectly during the complete stay. And Andre could pass on his incredible knowledge about marine life and the oceans very interesting to the volunteers. But beside Zara and Andre, there were also Cecilie, Jos, Katon, Yani and of course Rose and her husband who completed the team. Everyone has made it an unique experience with the Sharkies and to feel at home.

During my stay, I also made some new friends with other volunteers from different countries. As part of the Shark family, everybody feels the same sense of togetherness. As we were living very closely together and shared many moments we grow together as friends during this time very fast. Which also makes it easy: everybody has the same interest and passion for the ocean and scuba diving.

Although I was one of the older volunteers at the age of 40, I enjoyed my time with the young team very much. It is important that you always stay open for new things and never stop discovering - that keeps you young.

In addition to my original goals of resting and clearing my head, I have done something good for the ocean and I have also found new friends and another family. I don't want to miss this unforgettable experience. Thank you all, I’m pretty sure I will come back.

Carina, 40
Ocean lover and Sharkie

What is your advice to future travelers on this program?
I just recommend staying longer with this project. In my opinion, two weeks are too little, but four weeks would be perfect because you need nearly two weeks to get scuba diving and scientific education. And after this weeks you can enjoy going on real surveys.
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Lauren
9/10
Yes, I recommend this program

2 Weeks as a Shark Warrior

I have spent two weeks with Gili Shark Conservation and have gone from an inexperienced Open Water Diver to an Advanced, Shark Aware, Scientific Diver! The span of the project (from turtle and shark identification to coral restoration to beach clean ups) means every day is a new challenge and experience. Diving in Indonesia has exceeded my expectations, there are so many dive sites and the great thing about the project is they try and go to different ones every day. Diving twice a day most days allows you to really hone your diving skills. I would definitely recommend this project even if your interest in marine biology is just a hobby and you haven't got a scientific background like me, it doesn't matter! Thanks Gili Shark, I hope I can come back to dive with you again and see the sharks and turtles and everyone on the team! :-)

If you did this all over again, what's one thing you would change?
Come for longer! Or maybe do my refresher course before I came as I didn't realise this was not included so took up half a day.
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Gemma
9/10
Yes, I recommend this program

Gili shark conservation review

Today is my last day at Gili shark conservation and I am sad to be leaving! I have loved being a part of the research team and seeing the amazing underwater life around the islands. I would definitely recommend coming for longer than 2 weeks because the first week was taken up by the advanced padi course and shark aware, and also it took a few days to complete the scientific diver. These are all really great qualifications but it meant I didn't have much time to get really involved in the practical work, however, I would love to come back and do some more! It has been a great insight for me as I'm starting a marine biology masters degree this year and has built up my confidence with diving. The island is really nice with loads of yummy food (lots of pancakes) and everyone here is so friendly. I would recommend this volunteer programme to anyone :)

What was the most nerve-racking moment and how did you overcome it?
I felt nervous to start diving again as it had been just over a year since I had learnt but the staff at oceans 5 were really great and gave me lots of support. By the end I felt confident setting up all my gear, getting ready for the dives and felt really comfortable in the water!
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Kathryn
10/10
Yes, I recommend this program

Gili Shark Conservation Review

I loved every second of my time with the Gili Shark Conservation project. I spent 3 weeks with the team. The first week I did my PADI advanced open water certification and the second week my scientific diver and Shark aware certifications. All the instructors were so thorough and made sure I understood all the requirements and skills needed. I learned how to do a variety of surveys including roving, DRUV, photo ID, reef check, and coral reef index. I also was familiarized with identifying indicator species in the area. I can guarantee you I had never known there were so many species of snappers, groupers, emperors, and the list just goes on. It’s so cool to be able to know all this information and have learned it through first hand experience. We dive at least 9 times a week at a variety of dive sites around the Gili islands and we always saw really interesting things. In the office time in the afternoon, we inputted our data from the morning dives along with several other forms of research. I learned so much in my time here and just really enjoyed myself. Perfect weather, good food, super friendly and supportive staff. I felt safe and comfortable through the entirety of my stay and definitely recommend this project to people who love diving, the environment, and overall having a great time.

What would you improve about this program?
Maybe less focus on the Shark Conservation part and maybe more marine life as a whole
Leïla
9/10
Yes, I recommend this program

A new way of diving

My experience with Gili Shark Conservation opened my eyes not only on marine conservation but also on how, as divers, we can really make a change. I expected a program much more focused on sharks which is what really attracted me. However, the variety of activities in which I got engaged is actually the greatest added value of the program. I got a great insight in technics for fish and coral surveying, learned a lot about marine conservation advocacy, species of fish, threats and measure to protect sharks etc... and all of this in only a few weeks.
I wish I would have stayed much longer and plan to go back. The island really has a wonderful vibe and is a wonderful place to disconnect from "modern life" and reconnect with the nature and a simple life style.
The team is very young and passionate and is truly inspiring.

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Hayley
10/10
Yes, I recommend this program

Awesome experience

If you're looking for a holiday in paradise whilst also giving back to the environment then this is the project for you! The whole shark team is super friendly which makes it really easy to settle in, and you can tell each of the staff members really has their heart in the cause which radiates positivity.

The island itself is absolutely beautiful, with everything within walking distance, and the dive shop they have paired up with is right on the harbour which makes the gear drop in the morning as easy as possible. From day one you feel like you are really getting involved and helping out with the project, whether it's doing roving surveys or reef checks - your contribution counts! Not only have I come out a more confident diver with a much wider knowledge of marine life and impacts of everyday life on the underwater ecosystems, but I am now officially AWARE, which I hold with great honour.

All in all a great experience and I can't wait to go back!