What is Volunteering?

There are countless people and organizations working around the world at this moment to help protect coral reef ecosystems. Many of these people are unpaid volunteers and realize the importance of coral reef conservation and its effects on everyone around the world. Volunteering is an amazing form of work that anyone can do anywhere in the world, within any area. It is simply helping out or working without compensation other than self-satisfaction. According to Nationalservice.org the 2018 Volunteering in America report found that 77.34 million adults (30.3 percent) volunteered through an organization last year. Altogether, Americans volunteered nearly 6.9 billion hours, worth an estimated $167 billion in economic value, based on the Independent Sector’s estimate of the average value of a volunteer hour for 2017. Millions more are supporting friends and family (43.1 percent) and doing favors for their neighbors (51.4 percent), suggesting that many are engaged in acts of “informal volunteering”. There are so many different environmental organizations one can volunteer with and below is a list of just a few that involve coral reef projects.

Organizations and information from their websites: 

Name: International Volunteer Head Quarters (IVHQ)

Mission: Our mission is to change the face of volunteer travel. Established in 2007, we have grown to become the world’s leading volunteer travel company, working in over 40 destinations around the world and placing thousands of volunteers abroad every year.

We believe in a future where any traveler, anywhere in the world is empowered to make a meaningful difference in the community they are visiting, and we take pride in making this happen.

We’re focused on providing affordable volunteer travel experiences that are responsible, safe and high quality. Our programs heighten global awareness and cultural understanding through the skills and expertise taken by volunteers to their host communities, and through the experiences and lessons that volunteers take back to their own countries and cultures.

Price: Fees from $1010 for 1 week

Time Commitment: 1-4 weeks

Tasks you would do!:

Volunteers on the Marine Conservation project in Australia have the opportunity to join a variety of important conservation efforts focused on the protection of Great Barrier Reef ecosystem.

When volunteering in Australia, you will work in collaboration with a number of oceanographic organizations to gather vital raw data and support the protection of the Great Barrier Reef through a range of initiatives, including:

Reef Monitoring – This portion of the Marine Conservation project involves snorkeling within an assigned area to collect data on the species living in the Great Barrier Reef. You do not require any previous reef surveying experience to participate, as you will be trained in the methodology of in-water surveying during your program orientation. A full-length lycra suit will be supplied and volunteers are just required to bring their own snorkel and waterproof watch.


Name: GVI

Mission: 20 years later, GVI has engaged over 35,000 participants, set up 600 community partnerships, and currently runs 21 programs in 13 countries worldwide. Richard and Ben’s vision to not only facilitate global citizenship and leadership skills in young adults, but to allow them to have a truly positive impact on local communities and environment is very much alive.

Price: $4,965, $6,125, $7,285, $9,605

Time Commitment: 4, 6, 8, 12 weeks

Tasks you would do!: Travel to the crystal clear waters of the Indian Ocean as a member of an expedition and work on critical marine conservation projects amongst the beautiful islands of the Seychelles.

You will contribute towards various conservation-related surveys aimed at providing data to the local government on coral reef research, fish, and invertebrate surveys and assist with the development of an environmental education and awareness program as well as marine plastic pollution cleanups and surveys.

You will spend the majority of your time on this expedition scuba diving and as such you need to be qualified to at least PADI Open Water, or equivalent.  For non-divers wishing to attend, we can recommend local dive centers that will help you qualify before your intended start date.


Name: Earth Watch

Mission: Earthwatch engages people worldwide in scientific field research and education to promote the understanding and action necessary for a sustainable environment.

Price: $1550

Time Commitment: 5+ days

Tasks you would do!: On this expedition, participants can get involved through scuba or snorkel activities. You will assist researchers in making baseline measurements of environmental conditions, actively removing algae, deploying coral recruitment (settlement) tiles, and assessing fish and invertebrate diversity and abundance. By joining this expedition, you’ll be at the forefront of active reef restoration science. You will assist researchers in experiments that aim to develop best practice methods for removing this macroalgae and allowing coral to regrow. You will be directly involved in filling in the gaps that will enable reef managers to make evidence-based decisions about active interventions that support the recovery of the Great Barrier Reef, and reefs all over the world.



Mission: Operation Wallacea is a network of academics from European and North American universities, who design and implement biodiversity and conservation management research expeditions.

Research is supported by students who join the programme, to strengthen their CV or resume or collect data for a dissertation or thesis. Academics benefit from funding for high quality fieldwork enabling them to publish papers in peer reviewed journals. This model enables the collection of large temporal and spatial datasets used for assessing the effectiveness of conservation management interventions.

Price: $5,925.00 ($2,370.00)

Time Commitment: 8 weeks

Tasks you would do!: IVHQ’s affordable Sea Turtle and Marine Conservation volunteer projects offer international volunteers with the opportunity to provide vital support to ocean conservation organizations around the world that are focused on the protection of fragile ecosystems and threatened marine species.

Benefits of Volunteering 

With busy lives, it can be hard to find time to volunteer. However, the benefits of volunteering can be enormous. Volunteering offers vital help to people in need, worthwhile causes, and the community, but the benefits can be even greater for you, the volunteer. Giving to others can also help protect your mental and physical health. It can reduce stress, combat depression, keep you mentally stimulated, and provide a sense of purpose. While it is true that the more you volunteer, the more benefits you’ll experience, volunteering does not have to involve a long-term commitment or take a huge amount of time out of your busy day. Giving in even simple ways can help those in need and improve your health and happiness.

Just a few benefits of volunteering are listed below

  1. Connects you to others
  2. Good for your mind and body
  3. Advance your career
  4. Brings fun and fulfillment to your life
  5. Doing things you would not do otherwise

The information in this chapter in thanks to content contributions by Audrey Boraski.


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A Student's Guide to Tropical Marine Biology Copyright © by by Keene State College Students, BIO 381 Tropical Marine Biology is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International License, except where otherwise noted.

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