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Big Blue Conservation - Koh Tao - Thailand

Internship schedule

So what exactly does the expedition entail? Have a read here about the dive training, conservation skill development program and survey dives involved.

 

Dive Training - 1 Week before the expedition begins...

Conservation skills development program - Week one


Before starting the conservation dives, you must receive training through our Conservation Skills Development Program (CSDP). You don’t need to have a background in marine biology in order to partake in this fun, interactive and informative course that will give you all the skills and confidence that you need when undertaking the survey dives afterwards. The only prerequisite is an advanced diver certification.


During the CSDP, you will partake in various different lectures which are given in a classroom and followed by a SCUBA dive or a snorkel practical session. Generally, there are two lectures a day (Monday – Friday) lasting between 30 mins – 1 hr. The lectures in general cover four scientific components which reflect on the dive surveying techniques that Big Blue Conservation typically use. The four topics include Fish, Invertebrates, Substrate and Marine Ecology which are incorporated in both the lectures and dives that follow.
Taking the above topics into account the following table gives a very general idea regarding the overall structure of the lectures during the skills development programme:

BSAC Marine Conservation Speciality Diving Course is the first of BSAC's ecological minded courses and the highlight of the expedition for many. As divers, we are in the prime position to help our reefs remain the paradise they are today. To help educate and alert divers of the problems affecting the reefs, Big Blue Conservation has helped construct a new speciality supported by BSAC on Marine conservation. As an observational sport, knowing a little more about what you see underwater and improving your buoyancy skills and air consumption will help influence low-impact diving.

The BSAC Marine Conservation Speciality Diving Course includes a mixture of lectures and dives, on 4 primary topics:

  1. Ocean environment - in order to truly understand our aquatic environment, we must first know about the oceans composition and processes as a whole. All our oceans are connected, and one minor change in one ocean can affect the entire ecosystem. After this, you will dive to observe reef zonation and practice identifying coral reef community structure.
  2. Coral Reefs - including marine identification dives and night dive. This is the most rewarding section of the course. You will learn a lot more about underwater organism identification, including coral anatomy and biology. After this section, you will complete a fish identification dive, following the ecology and biology of a fish of your choice. Your dives will forever be much more rewarding!
  3. State of the reefs - Our oceans are in a rapid state of decline, and as divers we are in the perfect position to do something about it. But first we need to fully understand what is happening.
  4. Conservation - including two ecological monitoring, reef restoration and practical conservation dives. Here you will learn what you can do to contribute to conservation and preservation of our aquatic world.
 Classroom Session: Diving Session
  • Ecological principles
  • Buoyancy optimisation
  • Ocean Environment
  • Taxonomy
  • Hard coral biology and life forms
  • Hard coral species
  • Intro to coral reef ecology & biology
  • Inverts and sponges
  • Marine plant and algae
  • Fish validation
  • State of the reefs
  • Coral bleaching and Ocean acidification
  • Conservation action
  • Survey techniques
   
  • Buoyancy dives (2x)
  • Topographic variation and ecology
  • In-water identification
  • Trail tests
  • Practice surveys
  • Night dive
  • Coral nursery maintainance
  • Recreational dives (weekends only)


You will be assessed regularly throughout the CSDP to examine their ability to identify species underwater and carry out safe conservation practices. Furthermore, a validation exercise is carried out at the end of each science component to assess the accuracy of the data collected during dives. You will be validated in all of the in-water exams before they can begin to conduct survey dives. Pass rates vary between 75-95% so be prepared to learn but whilst still having fun of course!

After the final 2 lectures, you will be trained in underwater surveying and reef rehabilitation and restoration techniques, completing and submitting a reef survey as well as contributing to one of our artificial reefs maintenance.
And this is the completion of your Conservation Skill Development Programme! Once you have completed and passed their CSDP, they now have the necessary skills in order to successfully partake in the survey dives, which essentially is when the real conservation work begins. Therefore, we always encourage participants to try and remain with us until after the CSDP in order to put their new found skills to some good use and to give something back to the reefs!

Extension of the CSDP – Week two

The following week will consist of more work on the artificial reef, as well as more survey dives, mooring line workshops.  

  • Coral transplanting
  • Reef watch survey
  • Coral watch survey
  • Mooring line maintenance

Additional diver training - Week three

During this week you would be learning additional skills, and gain knowledge in other diving areas, that would help you with any further diving you decide to participate in.

  • SSI Nitrox diver - A course that once completed will enable the diver to use different gas mixes with up to a level of 40% Oxygen, giving you many benefits including longer No-decompression time, and shorter dive recovery time.
  • SSI Deep diver - A course which enable the diver to feel comfortable diving to depths of up to 40 metres. The maximum depth for all recreational dives, able to explore some of the deeper coral formations.  
  • SSI Shark diver - This course will give you knowledge on one of the oceans greatest creatures, by learning just how awesome they are!

Survey and Project Dives - Week four and onwards

Upon completion of the CSDP, you will begin to partake in survey dives which, involves collecting data on the current status of the reefs and assessing both the physical and biological characteristic of reef communities. These data are complimented together with basic physical and oceanographic information.
Surveys are conducted at regular intervals and each dive site has a specific allocated name and code. Big Blue’s data is used primarily to describe and classify the nature of habitats in order to allow the preparation of baseline habitat maps and GIS information into satellite imagery.
Detailed data is recorded for different categories which is reflected in the categories chosen during the CSDP training. Check out our monitoring page for more information on the exciting world of conducting underwater surveys!

As well you will have the opportunity to complete a project of your choice - whether it is organising a fundraiser, an educational video, or simply a poster, you will have the support of our training staff and all material costs are included. This is your chance to show off your talents and apply them to marine conservation which you will be a pro at by now!
Of course when the four weeks are over, we can either say see you soon, or you can stay on an advance your diving education whilst continuing to contribute to monitoring and other conservation activities we have going. We can't guarantee accommodation on our resort if you decide to stay, but there are long-term rental places available on the island which we will help you find.

To view a rough outline of how the internship schedule may look like, click here!

As a leading diver training centre, you will be taught how to dive by experienced qualified instructors. During your first week, you may need to take part in SCUBA training to be qualified as a diver at both open water and advanced open water level. If you are already qualified, no worries! For those looking to improve their diving qualifications beyond the advanced open water level this too can be achieved after or before participating in the expedition, such as Deep and Wreck qualifications, or further your diver training and become a Rescue Diver. Anyone that do not require dive training can join the expedition as part of the main group a week later.
At Big Blue, we are able to train you up to Instructor level, so the sky (or the deep sea) is the limit! We also offer fantastic savings for those of you looking for a specific diver training package, including videography. See here for more details.

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