Exploring the unknown. Diving projects around the world with Eco Companion
If you are like me, being pushed outside of your comfort zone is what you thrive on. Being in places you are not familiar with, with people you barely know, is what makes you tick. It’s an entirely different world to what we are used to and it’s a feeling that’s hard to experience back home in our daily lives. But diving lets you take this feeling a step further, literally entering another world, an alien environment full of mystery, beauty and peace.
Taking my first backwards roll into the ocean was possibly one of the scariest moments of my life, but it was also the first moment that I got a glimpse into the incredible underwater ecosystem that our oceans have to offer. Being underwater makes my head switch off; there are no thoughts rushing through my mind, I’m focused on what I can see and may discover. Diving has given me so much; from adrenaline rushes to moments of pure calm when hearing myself breath shifts me into a meditative state. But more than anything it has given me a respect for our oceans, teaching me the importance of its health and the life of all marine species from coral reefs to sharks. The health of our oceans determines the fate of our planet and human kind, so it is more important than ever that we work to protect it and minimise degradation of this ecosystem.
Marine Protected Areas and conservation projects are doing just that. Whether you’re a frequent diver whose secret life goal is to become a mermaid/man, or you are a diving novice with big plans for the 2018 bucket list, Eco Companion has the best underwater conservation projects for you to help protect our underwater ecosystem whilst fulfilling those diving dreams!
Gain your PADI Open Water certification whilst contributing to an oceanic clean-up of the precious marine ecosystems. The dive school here places special emphasis on protecting the local environment whilst letting you discover the Algarve’s world of underwater wonders.
Learn to Scuba dive with one of the world’s most misunderstood creatures, the shark, whilst helping to increase understanding of behaviours and population dynamics. From small reef sharks to tiger sharks, Fiji is the place to get up close and personal with these majestic creatures.
As well as extensive and vibrant coral reefs, Madagascar is home to an array of marine life from small reef fish to migrating humpback whales. Alongside water based conservation, you will accompany the marine experts to help promote conservation in local schools to encourage sustainable management along the Madagascan coastline.
Raja Ampat is a magical underwater ecosystem home to more coral reef species than anywhere else on the planet. This location is every diver’s dream. You will have the chance to dive unexplored reefs, working with local authorities to understand and manage the Marine Protected Areas. Coral reef protection is increasingly important in today’s world and this project allows you to gain hands on experience in one of the world’s most extensive and undiscovered areas.
These two incredible projects work to save one of the most misunderstood species in the world: the great white shark. Your work will help the researchers collect data on the behaviour and interaction of sharks to better understand the species and breakdown misconceptions around their behaviours. But not to worry, we promise you are inside a shark cage for this one!
More than 25 different species of whales and dolphins can be seen in the deep waters surrounding the Azores, including resident sperm whales. Working alongside marine biologists, you will get involved in many research initiatives whilst enjoying daily interactions with whales and dolphins in their natural environment. Don’t forget your camera for this one!
Whale Sharks and the Maldives, need I say more? The Dhigurah Island allows you to get up close to these majestic creatures to measure them, take photo ID and maintain written logs to help with their long-term protection. If you’re not below the surface, the project encourages you to learn about local Maldivian culture whilst helping to develop community based initiatives surrounding the protection of the whale shark.
Spend the mornings completing two dives, where you will be collecting data used to protect ecosystems and support marine life in the area. The afternoons are spent analysing the data back at the dive centre, followed by relaxing hammock chills and getting to know the Malay way of life.
Whale Shark conservation surrounded by sandy beaches and beautiful coral reefs. Help map the migration of whale sharks across the planet whilst diving in waters where few tourists get the chance to dive, meaning you have the ocean just for yourself!
Gain your diving qualification whilst gliding underwater with manta rays! A typical day on this project lets you assist scientists taking biological samples of the mantas, taking pictures of the underwater fingerprints of whale sharks and monitoring the movements of humpback whales. Allow your eyes to be opened and brains to be filled with fascinating information about the marine life here which is so vital for the health of the ecosystem.
The Caribbean Sea has it all; from vibrant reefs to sailfish hunting schools of sardines. Get up close in the action, diving and swimming alongside the sailfish whilst getting free diving tips from the experts you will be working closely with throughout the project.
The Perhentian Turtle Project is a collaborative project uniting researchers, volunteers and the local government in the quest to protect sea turtles and conserve the stunning environment which provides a home for these creatures. There is nothing as special as seeing a turtle whilst diving glide slowly past you after breaching at the surface.
Gather data on individual sea turtles and help at the project’s rescue centre. This project lets you study Hawksbill and Eastern Pacific Green Turtles, looking at the in-water foraging and nesting areas that turtles migrate between. During your free time, explore the Osa peninsula, one of the world’s biodiversity ‘hotspots’, and enjoy some fantastic swimming and snorkelling in the clear, calm waters.