I just finished my two weeks of volunteering at the Marine Center and It was fantastic! Two weeks was definitely not enough time and I am very sad that it’s over. I have done volunteer projects before, but was a little hesitant about this one because I am not a strong swimmer and havnt snorkeled or swam in the ocean in over 10 years. After doing some research I decided to just book it.
My first day started by taking the speed boat from Male to Naifuru, where the Marine project is located. Unfortunately, the boat ride was very rough, and I ended up getting sea sick. Luckily, one of the centers marine biologist, Leo, was taking the same boat and I’m so grateful he was. He helped hold me up which kept me from breaking my nose on the side of the boat and would hand me bags when I needed them, even after I puked on myself, and him, sorry Leo!
Once I got to Naifuru I met Sarah, the volunteer coordinator, but don’t let that title fool you, she does so much more. From showing me around the island, and taking dinner orders, to tourist presentations, and coral gardening this girl is very busy but still manages to stay on top of everything and keep things running smoothly. She also managed to book my sea plane from Kuredu and was very persistent in making sure it was confirmed which was not easy. Thank you Sarah!
Once we got to the center to see the turtles I was instantly in love. The turtles are awesome and I didn’t even care that I was covered in their poo water. It was totally worth it to make sure their tanks are clean. They have 44 turtles as of now, 41 are Green Turtles and 3 are Olive Ridley, all of which have had one fin removed and our recovering. The morning shift typically consist of food prepapration, draining and cleaning of tanks, and washing out the buckets used to feed the turtles. It is alot of work, but as long as you get the routine down all the feeding and cleaning can easily be done before lunch.
They also had turtles in the sea cage (where they put the turtles in to get used to the ocean currents, fish,etc before being realeased). It was then that I realized how strong the currents were. Everyone had easily made it to the sea cage and I was only about half way there, really starting to struggle. I need not worry though because once they noticed, Leo and Sebastian were quickly by my side to help bring me back to the shore.
Seeing that I was having a hard time, Zoe, the other Marine biologist took me and Gemma out to calmer water to help me work on my swimming and snorkel game. After I got the hang of it, it made going out to the sea cage a lot easier and I was actually able to enjoy snorkeling. So thank you Zoe for your time and patience! Also, she is hilarious and always had us, especially Gemma cracking up. She has such a positive, calm energy and its definitely infectious and helps the time pass while working in the morning.
During the duration of my project I had a roomate, Gemma, and I couldn’t have asked for a better one! Super sweet and funny, I really enjoyed my time with her. Always very helpful, especially at explaining all the rules to card games we were playing after dinner.
All in all, this was one of my favorite projects that I have done, not only do you work, but there is also alot of free time to snorkel around the island or take day trips somewhere. It is definitely a good mix of work and free time. I think what made the project so special are the staff. Leo, Zoe, and Sarah all really care about the turtles and put alot of effort in to make sure the volunteers are having a good time. Leo taught me so much about turtles and it was good to see the staff have so much passion for the animals they are caring for.
I liked it at the Marine Center so much that I decided to stay an extra day instead of spending it at Kuredu resort which I had originally planned. If I would’ve known how much I liked it I would’ve booked another month.
Thank you all for a truly memorable experience.