This project gives you the opportunity to make a contribution to species conservation work as a voluntary helper and devote yourself to vulnerable whale sharks in the Maldives. You will get a unique insight into the natural paradise of the Maldives as part of a team of international volunteers, and are bound to have an unforgettable experience. Are you enthusiastic about species conservation? Do you want to experience the beauty of nature? Then take this opportunity to contribute to this special project in one of the most outstanding places on earth.
Located at the heart of the Indian Ocean, the islands of the Maldives are an excellent habitat for the largest fish on earth: the whale shark. The Maldives is almost the only place on earth where they can be observed year round. They face a growing number of threats and are now considered a vulnerable species: Finning, pollution affecting the natural ecosystems of the coral reef, accidents involving boats and uncontrolled tourism are the four main dangers facing the whale shark around the world. Get involved as a volunteer on the heavenly islands of the Maldives and help protect these fascinating animals!
Although no specialist knowledge or experience is required you will need to go through an extensive application process in order to take part in the volunteer project in the Maldives. We will provide a detailed application form for you to complete. In addition to general information about you as a person, you should tell us about why you want to take part in the project and what qualifications and skills you have. You will also be asked about any medical problems (e.g.) that you may have. The application process is extremely extensive and places are limited, so we cannot guarantee that you will be able to take part in the project.
All applicants must be 18 or over, have a good level of English and be a confident swimmer, as your role will involve swimming with whale sharks.
We will also require a doctor's certificate confirming that you are healthy and fit enough to take part in the project, which can be physically demanding. No specialist knowledge is required. It's far more important for you to be interested in whale sharks, enthusiastic about species conservation and ready to get your hands dirty.
The project has a strict code of conduct because the Maldives is a Muslim country. Purchasing and consuming alcohol is strictly forbidden. Drinking, eating and smoking in public is not allowed during Ramadan. Taking pork products into the country is also forbidden. It is important that you cover up and avoid wearing provocative clothing. You will be given details about the code of conduct before you leave.
After arriving at Malé International Airport, you will take another flight on to Maamigili in the South Ari atoll of the Maldives where a member of our partner organisation will pick you up. After a 30 minute boat ride to the island of Dhigurah you will be brought to the volunteer accommodation. You are responsible for getting yourself to Maamigili Airport. We are more than happy to help you make travel arrangements and will give all the information you need before you go. Once you reach your accommodation, you will be introduced to the team and offered a tour of the island.
Every whale shark project begins on a Sunday. Your team will contain up to eight volunteers. Don't presume that you will have a small role to play because you are a volunteer. You will be significantly involved in the whale shark conservation project. You will spend at least four days a week on a boat called the Dhoni looking out for whale sharks with other volunteers.
Your group will be responsible for checking population levels, taking photos and measuring the whale sharks. Whale sharks may look intimidating, but they pose no danger to humans! In addition to monitoring the animals, you will also get to grips with data entry. The information that you gather on your excursions have to be sorted and entered into a database. The project also involves working with locals on the island. You will exchange knowledge and stories, and will gather information which is vital for the work of the project. You will occasionally do activities with the local school children, or give presentations about whale sharks.
The accommodation is on the island of Dhigurah, close to the main village. You will share a room with another person in the guest house. You will be put with someone of your own gender whenever possible. Each room has its own bathroom. The guest house has room for up to eight volunteers. You will be served meals in the restaurant. Some of these can be pretty spicy, but milder alternatives are also available. The guest house also has Wi-Fi.
Everybody interested in volunteering abroad should be able to adjust to entirely unfamiliar standards of living in their future host country. Therefore, we would like to point out the importance of being flexible and adaptable regarding the accommodation and sanitary facilities provided by the project. Those are very basic and – depending on the project – cannot be compared to European standards. The equipment and furnishings are limited to a minimum; air conditioning is not available. Depending on your host country occasional power blackouts or water outages are quite common. Please contact us if you have further questions about your accommodation. We are pleased to provide you with comprehensive information since we would like you to feel entirely prepared for your time abroad.
You will have one day off per week during the project. You can spend your free time however you like. Relax on Dhigurah's heavenly beach, go snorkelling or diving, or spend time discovering the island and spending time with the locals and other volunteers.
With a maximum length of 14 m and a weight of up to 12 tons, the whale shark (Rhincodontypus) is the largest living fish in the ocean. It poses no danger to people because it only eats plankton. However, people are the biggest threat facing the whale shark. These animals are severely at risk due to finning, pollution and injuries caused by fishing nets or boats. The situation is made worse by the fact that whale sharks reproduce very slowly because they are only capable of reproducing once they reach 10 years of age. in order to provide them with proper protection, it is necessary to monitor whale shark populations and their movement patterns.