A conservation volunteer is diving with a whale shark in the Indian Ocean

Your trip at a glance


  • Join a dedicated species conser­va­tion project in the Maldives
  • Live on board of a research vessel and roam the Indian Ocean
  • Become involved in the protec­tion of endan­gered whale sharks
  • Work together with volun­teers and conser­va­tion­ists from all over the world
  • Swim together with whale sharks – the largest living fish on earth
  • Experi­ence the untouched beauty of South Ari atoll


Dhigurah and the remaining island archi­pelago

Plan your trip

  • Included in the programme fee
    • Placement in the programme
    • Assistance with travel arrangements
    • Assistance with selecting travel insurance
    • Assistance with booking flights
    • Risk coverage certificate

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Terry, your travel agent for the Maldives

You would like to learn more about this trip? Don't hesitate to contact me! Our service doesn't end with your departure: I answer all of your questions and support you before, during and after your stay abroad.

An island in the Maldives which is surrounded by the Indian Ocean's turquoise water
Conservation work in Asia: A whale shark's silhouette swimming
Conservation volunteering: A green horn-eyed ghost crab on a beach in the Maldives
A whale shark is swimming under the water surface; a dhoni in the backround
A conservation volunteer dedicating himself to protecting endangered whale sharks in the Maldives
Conservation volunteering: Fish in a coral reef off the Maldivian coast
A sea turtle is swimming in a coral reef off the Maldivian coast in the Indian Ocean
The breaking waves on Dhigurah beach at sunset
A conservation volunteer takes ID shots of a whale shark in the Maldives
A moray eel in a coral reef off the Maldivian coast in the Indian Ocean

Volunteering in the Maldives

On this project you are given the opportunity to make an active contribution to species conservation work as a voluntary helper and devote yourself to vulnerable whale sharks in the Maldives.


Arrival and orien­ta­tion at the project site

After arriving at Malé International Airport (Velana International Airport), you will be picked up by a representative and taken to board our partner’s research vessel MV Felicity. Here you will be welcomed with a refreshing drink while taking part in a work and safety briefing. The next morning, after waking up from your first night on the boat, you will find yourself in the beautiful lagoons of the Maldives’ South Ari atoll, the place where you and your team will carry out important research work.


Volunteer activ­i­ties in the Maldives

The whale shark project usually begins on a Monday. Your team will contain up to ten 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. For five to six days a week, you will be involved in looking out for whale sharks and other marine animals together with the other volunteers.


From your base on MV Felicity, you and your team will take daily survey trips out on the so-called dhoni along the famous South Ari Marine Protected Area. 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.


Accom­mo­da­tion in the Maldives

During your time in the project, you will live aboard the research vessel MV Felicity. You will share a cabin with another participant. The cabin is equipped with beds and air-conditioning and has access to a bathroom including toilet, sink and shower.

The research vessel has a large deck including some sun loungers as well as a lounge and dining area for common use. Whilst on board, you will be provided with breakfast, lunch, dinner, afternoon snacks, water, tea and coffee each day. Additional soft drinks can be purchased for an extra cost.


Leisure time as a volunteer in Asia

You will have one day off per week during the project, which is usually on Friday. You can spend your free time however you like: Do some diving, go snorkelling, visit some beautiful sandbanks or simply spend time with the other volunteers. Furthermore, we recommend packing a good book and some music for your free time.


Special notes for volun­teering in the Maldives

To gain a broad overview of what is required from you in order to take part in our volunteer projects, we ask you to take a look at our general information and requirements on our volunteer programmes.

Apart from that, joining our volunteer project in the Maldives requires that you are a confident swimmer, as your role will involve swimming with whale sharks.

Furthermore, this project has a strict code of conduct because the Maldives is a Muslim country.


Purchasing and consuming alcohol is strictly forbidden. It is important that you cover up and avoid wearing provocative clothing when among the local community. You will be given details about the code of conduct before you leave.

Last but not least, we ask you keep in mind that we will never guarantee sightings of whale sharks or other (marine) wildlife. For more information, please take a look at our notes concerning animal sightings and wildlife interaction or reach out to our team.

FAQ – Learn more about this trip

Learn what others say about their Natucate adventure.

Review Volunteering Maldives – Sara

“(...) it was very nice to be close to the marine animals and an honour to see a whale shark so often.”

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Freiwilligenarbeit: Die Schwanzflosse eines Walhais fotografiert vor der Kueste der Malediven
Artenschutz auf den Malediven: Ein Walhaibuch am Strand der Malediven
Review Volunteering Maldives – Carina

“To be in the water with the greatest of all fish is incredible! To be able to watch these friendly giants of the sea took my breath away!”

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Review Volunteering Maldives – Alain

“Ocean and underwater world lovers should definitely book this project!”

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Review Volunteering Maldives – Andrew

Our volunteer Andrew spent four unforgettable weeks in the Maldives to dedicate himself to the protection of endangered whale sharks. In our feedback interview he reveals more about his time.

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Review Photos Volunteering Maldives – Julia

Our conservation volunteer Julia spent two weeks in the Maldives where she helped protecting endangered whale sharks. Take a look at some beautiful impressions:

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Als Volunteer auf den Malediven im Walhaischutz besuchte Elisabeth den zusehenden Strand. Dieser Strandabschnitt liegt durch die vorhandenen Palmen im Schatten.
Elisabeth hat in ihrem Aufenthalt im Freiwilligenarbeit Walhaischutz Projekt in den Malediven diese zwei nah beieinander schwimmenden Delfine fotografiert.
Review Volunteering Whale Shark Conservation - Elisabeth

“Every single whale shark was a swimming miracle underwater, as if it was out of this world. Elegant, chilled, powerful and majestic at the same time.”

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Review Volunteering Maldives – Annekathrin

“Going on a boat every day and observe sea animals all day long is just fantastic. I have been incredibly lucky and have seen lots of animals in their natural habitat.”

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Review Volunteering Maldives – Martina

“The project is beautiful. You work in an idyllic landscape and have the opportunity to experience a lot. Encountering all these impressive sea creatures was incredible. The team on site is fantastic and the other volunteers were like close friends after a very short time.”

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Review Volunteering Maldives – Markus

“The volunteer team worked great and the support from Clara, Shameel and Basith was very good.”

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Review Volunteering Maldives – Doris

“Our community was great, with nice volunteers and staff members.”

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Review Volunteering Maldives – Roland

“The whole experience was intense and accompanied by mixed feelings, i.e. "bittersweet". The encounters with a multitude of animals at close range were always unique, at the same time our "footprint" in the form of pollution, dead corals, injured animals and unregulated tourism is unfortunately omnipresent.”

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Freiwilligenarbeit Malediven: Walhai im Indischen Ozean
Walhaischutz auf den Malediven: Blick auf eine Insel der Malediven im Indischen Ozean
Review Volunteering Maldives – Sabine

“(...) the encounter with a whale shark – a lifelong dream came true for me!”

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  • reiseorte-malediven-malediven-archipel-corallen-natucate
    1. Dhigurah and the remaining island archipelago

    The Republic of Maldives is an island state in the Indian Ocean. While its total area is about 90,000 km², the actual island area is only 298 km². The Maldives archipelago consists of several atolls with a total of 1196 islands and belongs to the Asian continent.

    Just like the entire archipelago, the island paradise of Dhigurah is famous for its white, palm-fringed dream beaches, turquoise lagoons and a breathtaking underwater world. When travelling to Dhigurah you will surely experience an unforgettable stay abroad, characterised by peace, beauty and untouched nature.

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Purpose of the whale shark project in the Maldives

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.
With a maximum length of 18 m and a weight of up to 30 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.


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