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Skills Development Programme - Weeks 2-3
Before starting the survey dives, volunteers must receive training through our internationally-accredited Skills Development Programme. Volunteers don’t need to have a background in marine biology in order to partake in this fun, interactive and informative course.
The Skills Development Programme has been refined to ensure that everyone with enthusiasm and willingness to get ‘stuck in’ can be trained up to be very capable ‘citizen scientists’! All volunteers undertake this course at the start of their expedition. The aim is to bring you up to the level required to conduct coral reef surveys, regardless of your previous experience. Whilst this may sound a little daunting, don’t panic! The structure of the course is designed to give you the confidence and knowledge required to become an important part of our survey team.
You will be taught by our expert science staff through a series of fun and engaging lectures that, after introducing you to coral reef ecology, follow a broad structure that incorporates both classroom and in-water sessions, based around the roles of a 4-man coral reef survey team:
- Fish species identification
- Coral species identification
- Benthic (bottom) substrate types
- Algae and invertebrate identification
The lectures provide a background to the biology and teach you how to easily identify all the different target species you will need to know on a survey dive. There are lots of learning aids at your disposal, from flashcards and mock exams to experienced volunteers, always willing to share their knowledge with you.
Following every classroom lesson, you will home your identification skills through a SCUBA dive or snorkel practical pointy with a science staff member or experienced volunteer. This will enforce what you have learned and bring the wonder of coral reefs to life!
In order to ensure that everyone is at a competent level of identification, you will be required to take a few short identification tests throughout the Skills Development Programme. The structure of the tests is twofold. Firstly a short computer test based around a PowerPoint presentation will test your identification skills and provide you with the confidence in knowing that you have learned the species correctly. Following this a practical identification dive with one of the Science Officers will test your skills in the water.
Once you have mastered the species identification, further lectures will teach you the practical skills needed for survey dives such as how to lay a transect line, take readings of water visibility and salinity, tie useful knots and use a GPS to mark the start point of a survey. You’ll even be doing a few ‘mock’ surveys on the beach before putting all your newly acquired survey skills together underwater during a couple of practice surveys.
From past experience we have found that volunteers get the most from their expeditions when they become involved with the local community. That is why in addition to the science and practical lectures a talk introducing the local culture will provide you with an insight into the customs and way of life of our hosts. There are also a number of health & safety talks, including dangerous marine animals, fire and boat safety and CCC dive standards designed to make your expedition as safe and rewarding as possible.
Overall the Skills Development Programme is designed to make you a confident member of the survey team, ready to get stuck into the survey dives and ultimately get you excited about the next phase of your expedition. It is also a great way to get to know the team you’re working with and pass on your valuable skills to the next group of volunteers!
In order for you to get a headstart on your Skills Development Programme, we provide every volunteer with a Science Workbook which outlines exactly what you will be learning and which species you will need to be able to identify. You can also check out our recommended reading list where you can purchase a copy of our very own Identification Guide.
- All non-qualified divers receive FREE PADI Open Water and PADI Advanced Open Water training during the first week of our marine expeditions
- All Coral Cay volunteers will be rewarded with FREE Reef Check (RC) training valued at over £250 and FREE Emergency First Response (EFR) training valued at £65
- For volunteers staying 4 weeks or more, optional PADI Rescue Diver training (3 days) can be undertaken for just £200
- For volunteers staying 12 weeks or more, PADI Dive Master qualification (21 days) can be completed for just £350
- For volunteers staying 16 weeks or more PADI Dive Master qualification is FREE (Please note: Volunteers must be 18 years+ to join this programme. Although there is no course fee for Dive Master, course fee of £200 for Rescue Diver must be paid in order to complete the Dive Master course.)
- Dive 12 weeks for the price of 8 with our South East Asia Combo deal.
- Group Discounts: Groups of 10 or more individuals can make great savings. For more info please click here.
“Learn new things, make awesome friends and many nice memories”
Alex Vincent – Volunteer