Animal Conservation Work Beneath the Waves

by Mark Bottell - Date: 2010-02-02 - Word Count: 510 Share This!

Interested in animal conservation work beneath the waves/ Here are three animals you could help save.

When people think of animal conservation work, they doubtless imagine working with elephants in a South African game reserve or tracking leopards across the Serengeti. The last place most people think of volunteering to help animals is in the ocean itself. But marine animals face just as many dangers as those on dry land. Fishing, pollution, poaching and habitat destruction pose a major threat to countless ocean creatures, and dedicated conservation efforts are required to ensure that certain animals do not disappear forever. If you'd like to combine a love of the sea with voluntary work with animals, here are three of the creatures that you could help to protect.


Despite their reputation as fearsome predators (or perhaps because of this reputation) there are many species of shark that are threatened and endangered. Shark conservation presents some pretty unique challenges, but can be an exhilarating project to be involved with. Whether it is directly observing sharks in their natural habitats, tracking migration patterns through electronic tagging or crunching numbers and estimating population sizes back at base, there is a great diversity of work to be done in this branch of animal conservation work. One example of a place that does this kind of work is the Tiger Shark Volunteer Research Programme in South Africa.


Dolphins have a considerably more favourable reputation than sharks, but they face many of the same threats, from being caught up in fishing nets to being hunted and used as an exotic delicacy. These intelligent and beautiful creatures are a delight to be around on a period of animal conservation work, and there are many specific projects, such as the O.R.C.A Marine Foundation in Plettenberg Bay, South Africa, dedicated to working with dolphins and whales. Typically, this kind of work involves a mixture of observation and research on the animals themselves and working with local communities to raise awareness and try and prevent destruction of habitat.


Most turtle conservation work focuses on protecting breeding grounds and increasing the number of newly hatched turtles that make it to safety. An example of one such place where this work goes on is Goa. Better known as one of the most popular tourist destinations in India, it is also a prime breeding ground for turtles. Every year, thousands of eggs are laid on the beach at Goa, but relatively few survive. Many are picked off by predators or succumb to the elements, but many more are the victims of human intervention that damages their habitat - many traditional turtle breeding grounds have been overrun by tourists looking for beaches to explore. Turtle conservationists try and help by making sure that beaches are clean and unpolluted, and by trying to prevent incursions by tourists. It is challenging and delicate work, but hugely rewarding.

Whether you want to swim with sharks or work on preserving the breeding grounds of turtles, there is certain to be a branch of animal conservation work somewhere in the world that is perfectly suited for you.

Mark Bottell is the General Manager for Worldwide Experience, an online tour operator offering extended breaks in animal conservation work and various adventurous gap years for adults.n
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