Volunteer Shark Conservation in Fiji
- Placement location: Pacific Harbour, Viti Levu
- Role: To work directly with the Fiji Shark Conservation & Awareness project
- Requirements: Volunteers must be able to swim and be medically fit to scuba dive
- Main Research Focus: Scientific shark research, shark conservation, mangroves, education
- Environment: Marine
- Accommodation: Shared volunteer apartments
- Length of placement: From 2 weeks
- Start dates: Flexible
Volunteers on Projects Abroad’s Shark Conservation project in Fiji work on pioneering shark protection projects alongside respected scientists and shark research experts.
This project needs volunteers with a passion for marine wildlife and the great outdoors. The Fiji Shark Conservation Project offers you the chance to get up close to some of the most endangered and misunderstood animals in the world. Volunteers are welcome on a gap year, a career break, for university research, or simply as a way to volunteer abroad as a worthwhile travel experience.
Working directly with the Fiji Shark Conservation Project, conducting the work of internationally renowned shark research scientists, volunteers will be directly involved in scientific shark research work. Volunteers will also work within the local community on mangrove reforestation, recycling, and shark education initiatives. The volunteers and the conservation work are supervised by our resident marine biologist and local staff. We also work closely with other local and international marine conservation organizations, including the WWF Global Shark Program.
The project is based in Pacific Harbour, on the south coast of Fiji’s main island of Viti Levu, just three hours from Nadi.
Volunteers do not need any previous diving or shark research experience to take part in the Fiji Conservation Project. However, volunteers must be able to swim and be medically fit to scuba dive. This project is not available for people who do not want to take part in the diving.
Dive Courses with Projects Abroad in Fiji
Volunteers who have not dived before receive the PADI Open Water dive course during their first two weeks on the project. If you have an existing dive certification equivalent to the PADI Open Water course, you'll do the PADI Advanced Open Water course or the PADI Rescue Dive course. If you've already done the PADI Rescue Dive course, you'll do an extra Shark Feed Dive during your project. After their dive course, volunteers receive the PADI AWARE Shark Conservation Diver Course, which has theory and practical components, and may also include a shark dive.
All volunteers staying for four weeks or more complete the PADI Projects Abroad Survey Diver Distinctive Specialty Course, which focuses on fish identification theory. To pass the course and contribute to data collections during survey dives, volunteers need to pass a test.
Those who already have the Advanced certification or higher will receive the PADI AWARE Shark Conservation Diver Course during their first week, as well as the PADI Projects Abroad Survey Diver Distinctive Specialty certification, and an extra Shark Feed Dive during their project time.
All volunteers taking part in the Shark Conservation Project in Fiji for at least 8 weeks have the opportunity to train as a Divemaster during their time on the project. Read more about our Divemaster Add-On Course here.
Your Role on the Conservation & Environment Project in Fiji
As a volunteer on the Fiji Shark Conservation project you will observe and assist the local scientists with a wide range of on-going and long term research projects and activities, such as:
- Tagging of baby sharks
- Shark and Fish Indicator Species count surveys
- Shark and Fish Indicator Species identification
- Setting underwater cameras and retrieving data
- Data collection, entry, and analysis
- Critical Habitat Mapping and Local Ecological Knowledge surveys
- Shark lectures
- Implementing a local shark awareness education program
- Shark nursery habitat project
- Mangrove reforestation work
- Recycling and climate change work
The Fiji Shark Conservation and Awareness Project and our partner dive organization, Beqa Adventure Divers are at the forefront of shark protection in Fiji. Their safety record on shark dives is 100%. There have been no shark related accidents or injuries to any divers on their shark dive trips.
The weekly schedule consists of two dive trips per week where the scientists set underwater research equipment and volunteers participate in the two shark sighting surveys. You'll also get to take part on shark tagging trips. We usually organize two tagging boat trips a week to catch and tag juvenile sharks, but sometimes this is limited by weather conditions and space on the boat.
In terms of the diving, volunteers who are only able to stay for two weeks will do practice surveys after their dive course where they can join the marine biologist and longer term volunteers on survey dives, and observe and practice survey techniques.
A typical working day will run from 9am to 5pm. However, depending on the activities volunteers may be required to start earlier or finish later. The project runs on a Sunday – Thursday cycle, so volunteers should plan to arrive on a Thursday, Friday, or Saturday, where possible. Expert local staff are on hand to supervise activities and provide support throughout.
The Goals of the Conservation & Environment Project in Fiji
The primary aim of the Shark Conservation Project in Fiji is to protect and conserve the 8 species of sharks that inhabit Shark Reef, as well as the many other species present in Fiji’s waters and to raise awareness of the need for shark conservation around the world.
The Fijian Government is in full support of the shark protection work in Fiji and sharks are currently at the top of the political conservation agenda.
Sharks play a crucial role in our oceans. Most sharks serve as predators at the top of the marine food pyramid, and so play a critical role in ocean ecosystems. Directly or indirectly they regulate the natural balance of these ecosystems, at all levels, and are therefore an essential part of them. Sharks usually hunt old, weak, or sick prey and help to keep the prey population in good condition, enabling these more naturally fit animals to reproduce and pass on their genes. The effects of removing sharks from ocean ecosystems, although complex and rather unpredictable, are very likely to be ecologically and economically damaging.
The shark research being carried out on the project in Fiji helps to ensure that scientists and marine protection lobbyists are provided with regular and consistent scientific data about the life history, reproductive information, movement, and biology of the sharks found in Fijian waters. This information is vital for devising successful conservation and management strategies, helping to keep these specific shark species off the critically endangered species lists.
On all Projects Abroad Conservation projects we strive to involve the local communities in our programs. In Fiji, Conservation volunteers work with local villages on a weekly basis to plant mangroves and with school children and local people once or twice a month on our monthly outreach program. Making sure the next generation are aware of the conservation issues that affect them is very important.
As part of the weekly mangrove work volunteers will calculate the carbon footprint of their return flight to Fiji and will work with the Mangroves for Fiji Project to produce and plant enough mangrove plants to offset their carbon impact on the planet.
You can read more detailed information about the aims of the project in our Shark Conservation Management Plan.
Food and Accommodation on Conservation & Environment
Volunteers live together in shared two-bedroom apartments. Depending on capacity at different times of the year, between 2-4 volunteers share a room. A local housekeeper works at the accommodation once per week and a local cook prepares lunch and dinner every day. You'll prepare your own breakfast, and we provide you with bread, cereal, and fruit for this.
The local food consists of plenty of rice, bread, chicken, and starchy root vegetables, as well as Indian curries. Tropical fruit like papaya, mango, pineapple, and watermelon are available in season. Vegetarians can be easily accommodated.
Pacific Harbour is known as the adventure capital of Fiji. In your spare time you can zip line, go kayaking, white water rafting, visit breath taking waterfalls, and hike through the rainforest. For those looking for more relaxing activities, Pacific Harbour boasts one of the finest beaches on the main island, where you can sunbathe, go for a swim, or join the locals in a game of beach volleyball or beach rugby. You can also spend time at the Cultural Arts Village which has a great selection of gift shops and restaurants.
You can join the Conservation & Environment project in Fiji for two or three weeks if you don't have time to join us for four weeks or more. This project has been selected by our local colleagues as being suitable for short term volunteering for both the host community and the volunteer. Although you will gain a valuable cultural insight and work within the local area please be aware that you may not be able to make the same impact as someone volunteering for a longer period.
If you are a high school student and first-time traveller you may want to consider our High School Special programs in Fiji.
This project is a popular option for many of our volunteers and we recommend that you apply as early as possible to secure a placement. Ideally, you should apply at least 6 months before your start date. Please contact us for information about availability and late notice bookings.
While you’re in Fiji, you might also consider joining a 1 week Culture & Community Project. For more information, please visit our Community Village Project in Fiji page. Our Combinations Page explains how you can combine not only projects, but also destinations.