Overview

Contribute to coral reef recovery research and other marine conservation initiatives in the Dawasamu District, Fiji. AND get career training from Conservation Careers!

Learn about threats facing corals worldwide and specifically in Fiji. Assist with marine conservation initiatives, like surveying corals for recovery after previous coral bleaching events and tropical storms, assisting with beach or ocean floor plastic pollution clean-ups, and environmental education with the local community.

Photo of snorkellers in the shallows of a clear sea

Our partner’s team in the Dawasamu District works closely with the Fiji Locally Managed Marine Area Network and other local NGOs to identify the best ways to assist the community to conserve and protect their marine resources, including corals. Together, we have identified the following research priorities, data collection on targeted fish and coral reef species, habitat mapping for coral reefs and marine environments, development of an environmental education and awareness program for local schools and communities, development of marine and terrestrial environmental best practice in the Dawasamu District, and supporting community development initiatives. Volunteers and interns allow for a larger size and scope of all these objectives.

This project gives volunteers around the world an opportunity to contribute to key marine conservation objectives identified by local Fijian organisations. International volunteers do not have to have previous experience, simply a keen interest in marine conservation, snorkelling, and diving. The program starts with training provided by our team of scientists, research divers, dive instructors, and local Fijians. The engaging presentations and workshops are not only limited to coral studies but also other marine benthic life forms, like sponges, lobsters, and crabs, other organisms that live on the ocean floor. During the section of the training related to coral reefs, you will learn about the basic types of corals including branching, encrusting, and massive species, as well as their life cycles. You will also learn more about threats to coral reefs and how coral bleaching occurs. Once your training is complete, volunteers will carry out coral surveys to monitor the recovery of the reef after Cyclone Winston and coral bleaching events. Volunteers don’t focus on identifying all coral species in Fijian waters, but specifically on noting the species under the Acropora genus, famous for their large branching forms that look much like horns. Acropora species are incredibly abundant in Fijian waters and all the other corals on the survey are defined as non-Acropora species.

Receive the Coral Reef Research Diver Distinctive Speciality segment of the PADI Divemaster course. This unique offering by our partner & PADI teaches you about best practices when conducting underwater coral reef surveys. This is offered to participants staying for 2 weeks or longer.

The results of these reef surveys are collated by Dawasamu volunteers, interns, and staff, and then presented to the local community organisations. This data, along with alternative livelihood methods and marine management strategies can help local stakeholders to make informed decisions with regards to protecting their vital marine resources and by extension their economy and long-term food security. Depending on the needs of the local partner organisations at the time, you may also take part in other important marine conservation projects like beach cleans or ocean floor clean-ups and environmental education programs for local children or with community groups. In this way, this program allows volunteers to directly address United Nations Sustainable Development Goal #14, Life Below Water.

Underwater photo of a coral reef with lots of small orange fish

Highlights

  • Contribute to coral reef recovery research, learn about threats to coral reefs, and contribute to protecting Fiji’s marine resources.
  • Complete our partner & PADI’s unique qualification, the PADI Coral Reef Research Speciality.
  • Submerge yourself in the warm turquoise waters of the South Pacific and witness the spectacle of underwater life in this tropical region while honing your diving skills.
  • Stay in the rural village of Silana located in the Dawasamu District.
  • Immerse yourself in the Fijian way of life, learning about Fijian customs, traditional ceremonies, and the local language.
  • Live and work with a team of marine conservation and diving experts as well as international participants from all over the world.

Our Award-winning Partner

Conservation Careers has teamed up with an award-winning, mission-driven organisation with a team of passionate experts across the globe who will make your experience a truly unforgettable one.

Founded in 1998, they run programs in 21 locations, in 13 countries around the world, each aligned to the 17 United Nations Sustainable Development Goals as well as the objectives of local partners. They welcome participants from all around the world and help facilitate their development into global citizens. This is how they achieve their mission of building a global network of people united by their passion to make a difference.

Their commitment to running high-quality sustainable development and experiential education programs has earned them recognition from numerous organizations such as Panthera, the Seychelles Parks & Gardens Authority, as well as Stanford, NYU, Duke, and Ohio State.

If you register your interest below, you’ll put you in touch with our partner to take the booking and to plan your trip!

To see all our Conservation Careers Internship opportunities, please click here.

Photo of the base in Dawasamu, Fiji. A pink building with trees around it.

Life On Base

Boasting magnificent sunset views and swaying palm trees, our base is located in the bustling village of Silana, in the district of Dawasamu. We have Tova peak on one side (the third highest mountain on Viti Levu) and the beach on the other. From your bed, you can listen to the sounds of the crashing waves. A short boat ride away, you will find the famous Moon Reef with its resident pod of spinner dolphins.

Participating in a program here provides you with a unique opportunity to gain insight into Fiji’s famous culture of hospitality and warmth, and to experience what it’s like to be part of the community. On arrival, you’ll get to experience a “Sevusevu ceremony” – as a sign of respect you present yourself to the community to ask “permission” to stay. The ceremony is an age-old tradition that marks the formalisation of the community accepting and welcoming you, and celebrates your arrival.

Accommodation

Accommodation during your stay includes basic mixed-gender dormitory-style rooms in a Fijian bure with wooden walls and a tin roof. There is a communal kitchen, work area, and general living space where you can prepare for project work and socialise with your new friends. We rent this accommodation from the Silana Youth Project. Providing these community members with a sustainable income is a unique arrangement and a local success story.

Transportation

Transfers to and from the Nausori Airport in Suva take about 90 minutes and can be arranged with our partner in advance for the day before your program start date. For independent travel over weekends, buses, minivans and taxis are available.

Communication

You will have limited access to long-distance communications while on the program, so make sure friends and family know how often they can expect to hear from you. Mobile phone reception is available on base, although it can be poor at times. It’s possible to buy a Fijian SIM card and phone credit at the airport which can be used with your unlocked cellphone. Alternatively, you can purchase a pocket Wi-Fi device that can be topped up with mobile internet. Shared working space in the village is a five-minute walk from the base. Here you can get the best signal with your pocket Wi-Fi device. The speed of your connection may be inconsistent, due to our location.

Meals

Food on base is mostly vegetarian, consisting of locally-sourced seasonal produce which participants take turns in preparing for the group. Breakfast varies but could include porridge, eggs and beans, fruit or pancakes. Lunch and evening meals consist of sandwiches, rice, beans, vegetables, pasta with sauce, noodles, roti, cassava or dalo, and occasionally some meat. When eating out, you will find that the cuisine is quite diverse and includes a lot of seafood and has an Asian influence.

Climate

Dawasamu temperatures remain fairly constant throughout the year, at roughly 26°C (80°F). It can be cooler at night and in the early mornings during the winter months of May to November. Between July and September, the weather is usually dry and sunny. The rainy season is between November and April, when temperatures remain high but afternoon showers can be expected, and there may be an occasional tropical storm. For swimming, the sea in Fiji is warm all year round, so be sure to bring your swimsuit and enjoy a dip in the ocean.

Photo of a pod of spinner dolphins

Training

This program is an investment in your career. No matter which you choose, you will be working toward improving your employability by mastering new social skills, gaining further technical expertise and earning qualifications in many cases. Most of our staff are, in fact, Alumni, and we have helped many of our Alumni discover, move toward, and earn their own personal dream jobs. Each program includes introductory workshops, ongoing presentations, as well as on-the-ground professional support provided by our very own trained staff members. In addition, our training programs are critical for helping us to ensure the long-term impact of our sustainable development projects around the world.

FOR ALL PARTICIPANTS | ORIENTATION

Orientation: Your Health, Safety and Wellbeing

Learn about COVID-19 pre-departure guidelines, base expectations, personal and area hygiene practices and what we are doing to keep you safe.

Orientation: Travelling Responsibly and Ethically

Learn about the importance of child and vulnerable adult protection best practices and how to apply them while on project.

Orientation: UN Sustainable Development Goals

Introduction to the history and evolution of sustainable development, the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (UN SDGs) and how these related to your project work.

Orientation: Further Opportunities for Impact

Learn about our country locations and further opportunities available to you during or after your program.

FOR ALL PARTICIPANTS AT DAWASAMU

Education

During your first days on project, you will participate in several training sessions that emphasise the key teaching skills useful for our education program, including TEFL techniques and lesson planning, amongst others. You will also gain soft skills in communication, collaboration and organisation. You will also complete an overview of completed project work, items in process, as well as future plans. Lastly, you will learn how our work contributes and longer term sustainable goals, and how they link to the SDG’s.

Objectives and Impact

Dawasamu on Education and Community project.

Village Presentation

All about the village of Silana, traditions and cultural information.

Dawasamu Welcome Presentation

Overview of our partner and Project work.

Dawasamu Cultural Presentation

Overview of Fiji and its traditions and culture

Data Collection and Analysis

During your expedition, you will help to enter raw data that you collected into the database where it can be further analysed by our science team. There are 14 sites around Caqalai where we collect data once a year, of which seven will be surveyed for a second time, all at three different depths. Once a year a comprehensive annual report is produced detailing the analysis of the data collected and any conclusions that can be drawn. Data collected on crown of thorn surveys, dives against debris, beach cleans, coral bleaching surveys and The Great Fiji Shark count will be shared with relevant partners.

Survey Methods

The baseline method employed by our partner during the underwater surveys was designed to complement existing survey methods used in Fiji by the Department of Fisheries and the Fiji Locally Managed Marine Area Network (FLMMA). Our partner uses three separate methods for our marine expedition, Point Intercept Transect (PIT), Invertebrate Belt Transect (IBT) and Underwater Visual Census (UVC), all conducted as a team along one transect.

 Fiji Species List

You will be assigned the responsibility to learn either fish, invertebrates or benthic life forms first based on the length of your stay and depending on the needs of the survey team. The reason for this division of species is to get volunteers into the water collecting data as soon as possible and thereby maximising the effectiveness of the survey team. Short term interns and volunteers (4-6 weeks) will be trained and allocated the collection of data on Crown of Thorns, coral bleaching and Nudibranches around Caqalai, as well as participating in Dives Against Debris.

Survey Training

The best way for the staff to improve and assess your fish, invertebrate and benthic life-form knowledge is to use multiple teaching methods. Our partner’s teaching method in Fiji incorporates slideshow presentations, fun workshops (fish bingo anyone?) and most importantly, what we call “point out dives & snorkels.” Once basic dive training is completed at the beginning of the expedition, each diving day you will participate in 1-2 point out dives or snorkels.

Underwater photo of a diver measuring a coral reef

Your Impact

All of our programs have short-, mid- and long-term objectives that align with the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (UN SDGs). This enables us to report on our collaborative impact across the world in a streamlined manner, measuring which UN SDGs we are making a substantial contribution to. Furthermore, this will help our local partners and communities measure and visualise their contribution to the UN SDGs.

Prior to your arrival on base, you will be educated about the UN SDGs. Then once you arrive on base, you’ll learn about the specific goals we have in this particular location, our various objectives, and also clarification of how your personal, shorter-term involvement contributes to these.

Our aim is to educate you on local and global issues, so that you continue to be an active global citizen after your program, helping to fulfil our mission of building a global network of people united by their passion to make a difference.

Experiences

During your program, you’ll also have the opportunity to experience tailor-made adventure and wellness activities. These have been specially designed to further immerse you in the diversity and richness of the habitats and cultures around you.

  • Learn to cook iTaukei food
  • Make a traditional drink from kava root
  • Learn indigenous plant medicine
  • Hike to the top of Tova Peak
  • Fish with iTaukei women
  • Weave a traditional mat
  • Visit Vatu-i-Ra Conservation Park
  • Boat to Leleuvia Island

Photo of the sun setting behind palm trees

Cultural Immersion

Engaging intimately with a new context teaches global awareness, adaptability and critical thinking – skills highly valued in the modern marketplace. Local and cultural immersion is encouraged on all our programs around the world, and will also be one of the most enjoyable aspects of your experience. Luckily, there are many different activities that you can get involved in during your free time, or before and after your program.

On our community programs, the focus is on cultural topics, while on marine or wildlife programs the emphasis is more on the environmental element. Use your evenings and weekends to explore topics like local cuisine and religion, or how sustainable development challenges are affecting local contexts.

The local community

Fijians are some of the friendliest people in the world, provided you respect their traditions and customs. The local community is typically warm and eager to welcome visitors. Doing so provides you with fascinating insight into traditional Fijian lifestyle and will add another layer of depth to your time on a program.

Spirituality and religion

Christianity is the dominant religion practiced in Fiji, followed by Hinduism and Islam. Prior to the nineteenth century, indigenous Fjians practiced various traditional religions such as animism and shamanism. While Christianity gained widespread popularity after the colonisation of Fiji, so did the popularity of other religions like Hinduism, Sikhism, and Islam, with the arrival of workers from India. Fiji acknowledges the holy days celebrated by people from a range of religions, including Easter, Christmas, Diwali and Eid al-Adha.

Local handcrafts

Fiji has a thriving souvenir industry. Local artists produce various intricately carved wooden items.

Cooking

The national dish of Fiji is Kokoda, which is a combination of fresh fish, pickled in lemon juice. Coconut milk is then added, along with tomatoes and chillies. The dish is seasoned with salt and served as a starter. A large part of Fijian cuisine features fish and seafood, along with the staples of taro root, cassava, kumala sweet potato and breadfruit.

Festivals

There are festivals throughout the year, the most notable being Fiji Day, celebrating Fiji’s independence. This is celebrated in October with a week of religious and cultural ceremonies.

Languages

Fiji has three official languages: English, Fijian and Fiji Hindi. Fijian is spoken as the first language by most indigenous Fijians while Indo-Fijians mainly speak the local variant of Hindi, known as Fiji Hindi. English is widely spoken and used in government, business and education. A small number of other Indigenous West Fijian and East Fijian regional languages are spoken on the islands.

Aerial photo of a boat over a coral reef

BONUS! Conservation Career Kick-Starter online training programme (worth £295)

Do you want to spend your career helping wildlife to flourish, but are feeling a little lost, confused or disillusioned?

Start your career in wildlife conservation with a unique programme of training, support community & jobs from Conservation Careers!

The Conservation Career Kick-Starter is a proven step-by-step system to get clear, get ready, and get hired as a professional conservationist.

Whether you’re at university and planning your next steps, a graduate in the job hunt or working in an unrelated job but interested to switch into conservation, this course is designed to help you.

After going through the course, you’ll have created a personal career plan which will give you confidence in your job hunt and will make everything quicker, simpler and more fun!

All you need to do is register your interest in the project below, and if you choose to make a booking we’ll save a place for you on the Kick-Starter when you get back from your placement.

Included with the Kick-Starter is a year’s full-access to the world’s biggest conservation job board with over 15,000 jobs, plus access to our private online support community, CC Pro.

Underwater photo of an orange and black sea slug on a coral reef

Duration, Dates & Costs

Duration of fieldwork:

Start Dates: 2 – 12 weeks

  • 2022 – 14 May; 28 May; 11 Jun; 25 Jun; 09 Jul; 23 Jul; 06 Aug; 20 Aug; 03 Sep; 17 Sep; 01 Oct; 15 Oct; 29 Oct; 12 Nov; 26 Nov; 10 Dec; 24 Dec
  • 2023 – 07 Jan; 21 Jan; 04 Feb; 18 Feb; 04 Mar; 18 Mar; 01 Apr; 15 Arp; 29 Apr; 13 May; 27 May; 10 Jun; 24 Jun; 08 Jul; 22 Jul; 05 Aug; 19 Aug; 02 Sep; 16 Sep; 30 Sep; 14 Oct; 28 Oct; 11 Nov; 25 Nov; 09 Dec; 23 Dec

Costs:

2 weeks – £2,895.00

4 weeks – £3,745.00

6 weeks – £4,545.00

8 weeks – £5,395.00

10 weeks – £6,195.00

12 weeks – £7,045.00

What’s Included

  • 24-hour emergency desk
  • 24-hour in-country support
  • Airport pick-up (unless otherwise stated)
  • All project equipment
  • Food (except on long-term internship placements)
  • Safe and basic accommodation (usually shared)
  • Group introductory call
  • Welcome presentation
  • Endorsed Leadership Course
  • Sustainable project work
  • Leadership responsibilities
  • PDF reference – upon request

What’s Not Included

  • Additional drinks and gratuities
  • COVID-19: Health and Hygiene Fee
  • Extra local excursions
  • Flights
  • International and domestic airport taxes
  • Medical and travel insurance
  • Personal items and toiletries
  • Police or background check
  • Visa costs

Photo of scuba divers walking along a beach to a boat

Register your interest!

Reserve your place or ask a question