In the heart of the South Pacific Ocean, Fiji includes 333 islands which are famous for their excellent selection of white sandy beaches, coral diving and pristine environments. The crystal clear waters that surround each island include an array of marine creatures including over 1,200 species of fish and 12 species of whale.
Frontier’s Fiji Marine Conservation and Diving project gives volunteers a dive qualification and familiarises them with surveying underwater species. Volunteers in Fiji can also contribute towards the publication of scientific papers, gaining them some great credentials for future employers, for undertaking projects on their time abroad. As well as obtaining a PADI qualification, you also have the chance to carry out a BTEC award as well as a CoPE qualification.
While earning a PADI qualification, volunteers conduct scientific baseline data surveys of reef areas, mapping the beds and mangrove growth in the area. New skills include underwater visual reef censuses which assess the coral cover to determine the extent of coral bleaching. On rare occasions, volunteers get to undertake research which involves the impact of fishing on coral reefs and to observe the impact of marine trade on endangered marine invertebrates.
During the project volunteers stay in a simple beach house on the island of Beqa. The house has been constructed by local craftsmen, using traditional building techniques and materials which aims to give you an authentic experience while you are away. Life at camp is very simple but also very fun, and you will experience what it is like to live almost carbon neutrally. Food in camp consists largely of rice, fruit, pancakes and fish which are purchased within the country to help the economy.
Recommended for… Anyone that enjoys diving and living a simple lifestyle, whilst also caring about local communities and their environments – and you must have a passion for conservation and wildlife!
Be aware that… This is better for longer-term stays; the first few weeks are spent on training with more survey time in subsequent weeks. The work may be intense and challenging at times and activity varies depending on the time of year.
- Once patterns have been identified, work begins alongside local communities to raise awareness over the value and vulnerability of their local marine environment.
- Frontier also aims to create seasonally protected areas for turtles during nesting.
About the author: Laura Robinson works for Frontier, a non-profit international volunteering NGO that runs over 300 conservation, community, and adventure projects in 57 countries across the globe. She can be found blogging on Frontier’s Gap Year Blog or posting on the Frontier Official Facebook page.