Perhentian Islands Marine Project

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Program Description

This project provides innumerable research opportunities for Masters and PhD students looking to conduct field research. This project provides unparalleled opportunities to learn about and assess the ecosystems of marine environments, as well as the chance to gain a PADI diving certificate and daily underwater experiences.

A large part of the research is conducted through survey dives, and so a portion of this project is set aside for volunteers to take a PADI Open Water or Advanced scuba-diving qualification. After completing this, volunteers are able to join the project team and assist on two survey dives a day. This project is part of a PhD study, carried out by Plymouth University and supported by Ecoteer. The study aims to collect enough data to create scientific reports, which will be given to the authorities and scientific journals about the details of diving tourism and its effects on this marine environment.

Volunteers will spend a lot of time during the project helping out with sports clubs at local schools, and will spend evenings and weekends relaxing with the locals in more casual settings. Many of the local boatmen are involved in the survey work, lending their vast knowledge of the ocean environment. Involving the boatmen also means that they are a part of the research itself, and can act upon the findings in their daily lives where possible. Not only are volunteers participants in survey dives and data collections, there will also be a lot of opportunities to work with the local community through many different initiatives.

Situated in the stunning island paradise of Pulau Kecil in the Perhentians, just off the East coast of peninsular Malaysia, this project focuses on researching the diver interactions with the area’s marine life, and devising ways of reducing the negative impact that such human actions can have on the coral ecosystem.


Volunteers with The Great Marine Project will assist and help with:

Thesis Research -
During your time at the project, you will contribute to many different areas of thesis research for the PHD research project. These may include:
• Impact of Ecotourism/ voluntourism in the islands.
• Feasibility study of using plants to treat the grey water from the village – Masters/PhD only
• Biorock Feasibility study – Masters/PhD only
• Impacts of divers & snorkellers on coral reefs
• Nudibranch population surveys
• Coral reef GIS mapping

Awareness Booth -
Every Saturday, you will spend part of the day assisting the community volunteers with an ‘awareness booth’, which is designed to educate the island’s tourists about the impact of human actions on the marine-life and island environment. You will have the chance to assist the volunteer football coach every Tuesday afternoon who holds sports clubs for local schoolchildren. You will also be helping in beach clean-ups and beach sweeps in order to get rid of the rubbish present in the Perhentians.

Marine Research -
Volunteers will take part in two survey dives a day. These involve creating 30m2 GIS map representatives of the four key snorkel reefs in the islands, filming the shoals of fish for counting and collecting substrate data. You will be attending a number of lectures and talks during your time at the project, which will cover a range of subjects under marine conservation. These will include scientific method demos, fish, coral and invertebrate identification efforts and general discussions on human impact.

Scuba Diving Course -
During the first week of the project, you will be taking and completing a PADI Diving Qualification, so that you are able to participate in survey dives for the rest of your time at the project. Should volunteers already have their Open Water qualification on arrival, they can if they’d wish start the project work right away. This will remove RM300 from the project cost (cost of the dive manuals and certification). Please note though that they will require a day of buoyancy training and practice survey dives before they begin. If you are a beginner, you will complete a PADI Open Water Qualification, and if you have already achieved this, a PADI Advanced Qualification. All equipment is provided, and you will be under instruction of a team of highly-qualified professional divers.


No special skills or qualifications are required - just a minimum age of 18 and a willingness to get involved with all activities.

Volunteer Types

What`s Included

•Donation to the project
•Boat ride to and from the island and transfers and from the local Malay village
•All dive equipment and all diving in Malaysia whilst on the project
•Full orientation and support from the project managers
•Accommodation and meals as indicated

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Program Locations

Kota Bharu, Malaysia

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Program Details

The Great Projects
  • Malaysia: Kota Bharu
Spring, Summer
Program Duration:
1-2 weeks, 1-3 months
English, Malaysian
American, Asian, Australian, Canadian, European, Kiwi, South African, Worldwide
From £1,195.00

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