Volunteer for sea turtles on Malaysia’s Perhentian islands. Help us protect Green sea turtle nesting sites, as well as tracking their movements with snorkel surveys whilst soaking up the beautiful scenery and culture the Perhentians have to offer.
This project is split between the Fisherman’s Village and the nesting beach we protect, and volunteers experience both parts. You will spend their time helping build the turtle image database; by taking images of turtles during snorkel surveys. We can then identify individual turtles and map their movements around the islands. This data is vital to the development of an effective management plan for sea turtle conservation. Volunteers will also participate in night patrols, to help detect mother turtles lay their eggs and wade off poachers. Also, enjoy learning about the Malay culture while living in the village and having Malay Dinner every week at the house of a local. Relaxing and learning in paradise, this is a project for you!
- Help our Turtle team to conserve Sea Turtles on a tropical island paradise
- Enjoy afternoon snorkel surveys while taking photo ID of sea turtles
- Night patrols under the stars and moon to protect mother turtles who come to lay their eggs
- Spend your day off lounging on Malaysia’s most beautiful beaches
- Contribute to our sea turtles database which is vital for the management of a plan for sea turtles conservation
What to Expect
You will help to collect non-invasive photos of nesting sea turtles at beaches around the Perhentian Islands. The photos that you collect will help our researchers establish nesting patterns of sea turtles on the Islands. Unfortunately poachers still occasionally collect eggs from the beaches on Perhentian. The government staff travel around the islands but they are sometimes too late. Your role is to guard the beach and when a turtle comes to nest, inform the government official who will then collect the eggs and safely protect them in their official hatchery. We have found that just the presence of people often deterred poachers from landing on the beach. Your presence will ensure more that 2 turtle nesting beaches are protected in the Perhentian Islands.
Snorkel Photo ID Sessions
The scutes (scales) on the flippers and the side of a green turtle’s face are unique to each individual. In collaboration with the Department of Fisheries and Cambridge University, UK, we collect photos and other important data of the sea turtles on nesting beaches and at sea whilst snorkelling. We then use software developed by Cambridge University to identify each photo against a database of previously categorised individuals. If new turtles are discovered then you get to name your new turtle. The information that this research gathers is vital for conservation measures as we will be able to identify population numbers of male and female turtles, locate hotspots where conservation efforts need to be focused and also determine turtle movement patterns. The data will then be used by decision makers to design the Marine Park Zonation Plan.
food, dorm accommodation with shared bathroom, cooking facilities, all volunteer activities, return ferry from Kuala Besut to Perhentian, weekly Malay dinner.
travel to and from Kuala Besut, insurance, visa costs, flight fares, food/activities not included in the project.
Housing & Meals
17km off the east coast of Malaysia lie the Perhentian Islands; made up of Perhentian Kecil and Perhentian Besar both boast beautiful white beaches and crystal clear waters. Once used as a stopping point for traders travelling between Malaysia and Bangkok (Perhentian means ‘stopping point’ in Malay) it now hosts tourists who come to relax, snorkel, and dive off the coral reefs surrounding the islands.
Volunteers live in our very own volunteer house in local village Kampung Pasir Hantu on the southeast side of Perhentian Kecil. We work with local people and businesses as much as we can throughout the project and living in the village is a fantastic way for volunteers to experience local traditions, cuisine, and culture.
Food is an important part of Malaysian culture, as you will soon find out!
Breakfast tends to be simple; for instance bread with peanut butter or jam, banana cake, and coffee, or tea. For those feeling like they want to experience a more traditional Malay breakfast, you are more than welcome to venture into the village, and see what takes your fancy. Paratha bread with curry and coconut rice is highly recommended!
Lunch is usually had at the house. Feel free to use our weekly shopping supplies to create a tasty meal for yourself. Or if we are not home, a yummy packed lunch is prepared by a local restaurant. Generally rice or noodles served with chicken, beef, fish, squid, or a vegetarian option.
Volunteers take turns to prepare dinner once a week and all pitch in to clear up afterwards. Our volunteers come from around the world, so this is a great opportunities to sample cuisine from different countries and eat all together. In addition to the self prepared dinners, once a week volunteers dine with local families in their home, experiencing true, authentic Malay dishes and customs.
Staying in the turtle house means everyone has to join in with the cleaning and cooking schedule to keep the accommodation nice and tidy… and filled with yummy food!
Since the Perhentian Turtle Project has been running we have…
• Briefed 4,276 people on eco-snorkelling practices
• Spent 882 hours surveying sea turtles
• Sighted 1,533 turtles in total
• Recorded 131 individual turtle sightings (13% male | 53% female | 34% as yet unsexed)
• Identified & protected 142 nests
• Saved over 40,000 turtle hatchlings in 2017 alone
• Cleared 371 bags of rubbish from our beaches (over 1500kg!)
The Perhentian Islands are a group of islands off of the coast of Malaysia that are surrounded by coral reefs. The 2 islands have different vibes with the Big island catering more towards families and cheaper travels. The island activities typically center around the water and coral reef conservation and research.