Volunteer Abroad Maldives: Whale Shark Protection
This project gives you the opportunity to make a contribution to species conservation work as a voluntary helper and devote yourself to endangered 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.
- 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
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
Daniel, 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.
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 Sunday. 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.
Arriving in the Maldives
Your stay in the whale shark project: A typical volunteer day
Last day in the conservation project and departure
“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.”
“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!”
“Ocean and underwater world lovers should definitely book this project!”
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.
Our conservation volunteer Julia spent two weeks in the Maldives where she helped protecting endangered whale sharks. Take a look at some beautiful impressions:
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.
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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