Sea Turtle Research Expedition

Aerial shot small boat big blue Maldives remote atoll

©Jannicke C Hallum

Explore one of the most remote parts of the Maldives as a volunteer with the
Olive Ridley Project’s Sea Turtle Research Expedition

Hungry for an adventure in a remote part of the world?
Join our Sea Turtle Research Expedition for a marine life adventure with meaning
in one of the most beautiful and unexplored places on earth.

 

 

Join the ORP as a research volunteer on a four week expedition in Haa Alif Atoll to explore a remote part of Maldives for sea turtles.  Since this is a remote part of the Maldives where very little scientific work has been done, part of the adventure is not knowing exactly what we will encounter. Manta ray sightings have been reported in the area, and during our pilot surveys we saw lots of dolphins, sharks and stingrays, in addition to turtles.
 

Green turtle close up Maldives ©Jasmine Pape

©Jasmin Pape

The opportunity to volunteer with the ORP Sea Turtle Research Expedition in the Maldives is open to anyone adventurous interested in sea turtle research. We do ask that volunteers are 18+, able swimmers/snorkelers and have a passion for sea turtles and research. Your ‘home base’ is a tropical island, and therefore quite isolated. If you do not think you are particularly adventurous, then this expedition may not be for you.

We can accommodate 5 volunteers at the time. To cover the expenses for you expedition, we ask for a very reasonable donation to the Olive Ridley Project.

About Maldives

 

©Ali Naxim

The Republic of Maldives is a nation of coral islands situated in the Indian Ocean. The country spans roughly 90,000 square kilometers divided into twenty-six atolls with approximately 1190 islands. It is the smallest Asian country by both land area and population (with just fewer than 400,000 people!). Maldives is famous for its sandy white beaches, crystal clear turquoise waters, beautiful coral reefs and colorful marine life; it truly is magical, both over and under water.
 

Boat sailing near beach Ha.Kelaa island Maldives

©Ali Naxim

Why are we running expeditions to Ha. Kelaa and Haa Alif Atoll in Maldives?

 
Situated in the far north of Maldives, Kelaa is one of 14 inhabited islands in Haa Alif Atoll.  Kelaa is renowned for its 2 km long white sandy beach and has one of the largest lagoons in the country. The approximately 1000 residents on the island rely mostly on agriculture and fishing for their main source of income. As this is a very remote part of the Maldives, it takes approximately 1 hour by plane from Malé to reach the nearest airport, and a further 30 minutes by speedboat to Kelaa. Alternatively, there is an 18 hour boat ride from the Malé .
 

Close up lagoon on Ha.Kelaa Maldives

©Ali Naxim

The lack of data in this region is what scientists call a “black hole”. We want to fill this gap so that we can accurately interpret sea turtle population and movements in the Maldives. Due it its remote location, Haa Alif Atoll has very few resources to conduct dedicated sea turtle research or run marine conservation projects. Part of the ORP’s charitable objective is to advance the knowledge on sea turtle habitats and their threats. Thus, in addition to our research, we drive community projects, working with the local school, our local partner IDEAS, and with members of the community, to help tackle common issues affecting marine habitats for turtles.
 

Map of turtle sightings in Maldives highlighting the data gap in the northern part of the country

 

Why volunteer with the Olive Ridley Project?

 
The Olive Ridley Project (UK registered charity No. 1165905) was established in 2013 to actively fight ghost nets in the Indian Ocean. We physically remove ghost nets, promote recycling of end-of-life fishing nets, offer marine and turtle conservation education programs and carry out research. In addition we provide appropriate care, protection, treatment and security for turtles found entangled and injured. We operate a Marine Turtle Rescue Centre in Baa Atoll, Maldives, and run one of the largest sea turtle photo-ID databases in the world. You can read more about the Olive Ridley Project here.
 

Close up of hawksbill turtle Maldives

©Lauren Arthur

ORP regularly collaborate with local partners on projects. For the Sea Turtle Research Expedition we have partnered with Island Development Environmental Awareness Society (IDEAS) . IDEAS is a non-governmental organisation, founded in 2002 and located in Ha Alif Atoll, Kelaa. IDEAS’ mission is to promote socioeconomic development of the community, as well as sustainable island development. Read more about IDEAS

What will research volunteers be doing on the expedition?

 

Juvenile Hawlsbill turtle swimming on reef Maldives

©Chiara Fumagalli

As a volunteer you will join our expedition leader and a field officer to first of all assist with sea turtle research and data collection in the remote atoll of Haa Alif in the Maldives. The information collected will feed into the national TurtleWatch Maldives program run by the Maldives Marine Research Centre. Examples of research methods include:

  • Nesting island surveys
  • In-water surveys
  • Sea turtle photographic identification (Photo-ID)

 

Green turtle hatching Maldives

©Chiara Fumagalli

In addition, you may be involved in the rescue of entangled sea turtles and will be trained in basic sea turtle first aid; you will assist with community projects focused on marine conservation in Ha. Kelaa; and you will work alongside our project partners, IDEAS, to reduce the threat of marine debris to sea turtles in the area.

How much does it cost to volunteer with the Sea Turtle Research Expedition?

 
We ask for a donation in order to sustain our research, cover your expenses and the cost of running of the expedition:

4 weeks: $2995

 Your donation will cover:

  • Return domestic flights and boat transfers from Malé to Ha. Kelaa in Haa Alif Atoll
  • Accommodation for the duration of your stay
  • All meals for the duration of your stay

In addition to covering your expenses, your donation will help us provide the research tools necessary for your expedition and for our continued research; fund operational costs and management support before and during your volunteering experience; and help us maintain and expand ORP projects in the Maldives and Pakistan. Moreover, your contribution will help finance employment of local project coordinators in each  of our locations and sponsor work with fishing communities to reduce gear loss and the impacts to sea turtle and their habitats. And finally you will support local businesses such as guest houses and restaurants by staying in Kelaa.

Please note that your donation does not include:

  • International flights to and from Malé
  • Accommodation in Malé – should you require

 

Ready to join us on a research adventure in the remote north of Maldives?

 

Download the ORP Turtle Research Volunteer Adventure BrochureDownload the ORP Sea Turtle Research Expedition Information Pack to find out all you need to know about the program

Email volunteer@oliveridleyproject.org if you have any further questions.

Check available dates for your research adventure in the Maldives in the calendar below.

Complete the ORP Sea Turtle Research Expedition Application form here
 
 
 
 
 

Available dates for the ORP Sea Turtle Research Expedition 2017

 

ProgramStatusDuration
Weeks
Duration
Nights
Arrival
Date
Departure
Date
Exp Group 1 20174 Places Available4271st September 201728th September 2017
Exp Group 2 20175 Places Available4271st October 201728th October 2017
Exp Group 3 20173 Places Available4271st November 201728th November 2017
Exp Group 4 20174 Places Available4271st December 201728th December 2017
Exp Group 1 20185 Places Available42710th January 20186th February 2018
Exp Group 2 20185 Places Available42710th February 20189th March 2018
Exp Group 3 20185 Places Available42714th March 201810th April 2018
Exp Group 4 20185 Places Available42715th April 201812th May 2018

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