Volunteer for sea turtles on Malaysia’s Perhentian islands. Help us protect Green and Loggerhead turtle nesting sites, as well as tracking their movements with snorkel surveys whilst soaking up the beautiful scenery and culture the Perhentians have to offer.
This project is split between the village and Turtle Beach, and volunteers experience both parts. Volunteers will spend their time helping build the turtle image database; by taking images of turtles during snorkel surveys, we can identify individual turtles and map their movements around the islands. This data is vital to the development of an effective management plan for sea turtle conservation.Volunteers will also participate in turtle watches, to help mother sea turtles lay their eggs at night.
Living and working in the village is a fantastic way to experience true Malaysian hospitality, and volunteers are always warmly welcomed.
If you are looking to do a meaningful sea turtle conservation project in a paradise beach location, then this project is for you.
Pricing for International Volunteers 2018
2 weeks £621
3 weeks £782
4 weeks £863
Pricing for Malaysian Volunteers 2018
1 week MYR 800
2 weeks MYR 1,755
3 weeks MYR 2,210
4 weeks MYR 2,600
Includes: food, dorm accommodation with shared bathroom, cooking facilities, all volunteer activities.
Excludes: travel to and from Perhentian, insurance, visa costs, flight fares, food/activities not included in the project
Price includes 6% GST Government Tax
International prices are calculated and converted from Malaysian Ringgit so are subject to change
Start Dates for 2018
All Arrivals are on a Monday, departures are on a Sunday
Every Monday from 26th February until Sunday 18th November 2018.
You will help to collect non-invasive photos of nesting sea turtles at beaches around the Perhentian Islands. The photos that you collect will help our researchers establish nesting patterns of sea turtles on the Islands. Unfortunately poachers still occasionally collect eggs from the beaches on Perhentian. The government staff travel around the islands but they are sometimes too late. Your role is to guard the beach and when a turtle comes to nest, inform the government official who will then collect the eggs and safely protect them in their official hatchery. We have found that just the presence of people often deterred poachers from landing on the beach. Your presence will ensure more that 2 turtle nesting beaches are protected in the Perhentian Islands.
Snorkel Photo ID Sessions
The scutes (scales) on the flippers and the side of a green turtle’s face are unique to each individual. In collaboration with the Department of Fisheries and Cambridge University, UK, we collect photos and other important data of the sea turtles on nesting beaches and at sea whilst snorkelling. We then use software developed by Cambridge University to identify each photo against a database of previously categorised individuals. If new turtles are discovered then you get to name your new turtle. The information that this research gathers is vital for conservation measures as we will be able to identify population numbers of male and female turtles, locate hotspots where conservation efforts need to be focused and also determine turtle movement patterns. The data will then be used by decision makers to design the Marine Park Zonation Plan.
17km off the east coast of Malaysia lie the Perhentian Islands; made up of Perhentian Kecil and Perhentian Besar both boast beautiful white beaches and crystal clear waters. Once used as a stopping point for traders travelling between Malaysia and Bangkok (Perhentian means ‘stopping point’ in Malay) it now hosts tourists who come to relax, snorkel, and dive off the coral reefs surrounding the islands.
Volunteers live in our very own volunteer house in local village Kampung Pasir Hantu on the southeast side of Perhentian Kecil. We work with local people and businesses as much as we can throughout the project and living in the village is a fantastic way for volunteers to experience local traditions, cuisine, and culture.
Food is an important part of Malaysian culture, as you will soon find out!
Breakfast tends to be simple; for instance bread with peanut butter or jam, banana cake, and coffee, or tea. For those feeling like they want to experience a more traditional Malay breakfast, you are more than welcome to venture into the village, and see what takes your fancy. Paratha bread with curry and coconut rice is highly recommended!
Lunch is usually had at the house. Feel free to use our weekly shopping supplies to create a tasty meal for yourself. Or if we are not home, a yummy packed lunch is prepared by a local restaurant. Generally rice or noodles served with chicken, beef, fish, squid, or a vegetarian option.
Volunteers take turns to prepare dinner once a week and all pitch in to clear up afterwards. Our volunteers come from around the world, so this is a great opportunities to sample cuisine from different countries and eat all together. In addition to the self prepared dinners, once a week volunteers dine with local families in their home, experiencing true, authentic Malay dishes and customs.
Since the Perhentian Turtle Project has been running we have…
Briefed 4726 people on eco-snorkelling practices
Spent 826 hours surveying sea turtles
Sighted 647 turtles
Identified 33 individual turtles (13% male | 53% female | 34% as yet unsexed)
Cleared 371 bags of rubbish from our beaches (over 1500kg!)
Looking to the Future
The Perhentian Turtle Project is constantly looking for ways to move forward; we and the Perhentian Marine Research Centre helped publish our first paper in 2017* and we’re looking to publish many more in the future.
*the paper is freely available to view at http://www.herpconbio.org/Volume_12/Issue_2/Long_Azmi_2017.pdf (we’re very proud so please check it out!)
1. What are the requirements to join this program?
Volunteers must be over 18 or over 16 with a parental consent form. You will need to have a positive attitude, participate in all volunteer activities and respect the local village culture and traditions.
2. Do I need any turtle or conservation experience/knowledge?
No experience is necessary, just an enthusiasm for turtles and conserving their island environment. Our friendly staff will teach you all the necessary techniques and tell you everything you need to know about turtle conservation!
3. How do I get to Perhentian Island from Kuala Lumpur?
Take a plane to Kota Bharu airport, then a 1 hour taxi ride to Kuala Besut Jetty OR take a bus from Hentian Putra, Kuala Lumpur to Kuala Besut Bus station. From the jetty, take a 30 minute boat ride to the island.
4. What vaccinations do I need before going to the island?
Hepatitis A; Hepatitis B; typhoid; measles, mumps, rubella (MMR); tetanus-diphtheria.
5. How long can I stay in the country for?
Tourists from the following countries will receive a 90 day free tourist visa upon arrival:
Albania, Algeria, Argentina, Australia, Austria, Bahrain, Belgium, Bosnia-Herzegovina, Brazil, Canada, Croatia, Cuba, Czech Republic, Denmark, Egypt, Finland, France, Germany, Hungary, Iceland, Ireland, Italy, Japan, Jordan, Kyrgyzstan , Kuwait, Kyrgyz Republic, Lebanon, Liechtenstein, Luxembourg, Morocco, Netherland, Norway, Oman, Peru, Poland, Qatar, Romania, St Marino, Saudi Arabia, Slovakia, South Korea, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, Tunisia, Turkey, Turkmenistan, United Arab Emirates, United Kingdom, United States, Uruguay, Yemen.
6. Is it possible to have our own room?
Volunteers can opt for a double room for an extra charge. This room is not always available so kindly confirm availability with Ecoteer in advance.
7. Is this program suitable for families with young children?
Absolutely! Children do not need to take part in any construction or heavy work but can still experience the life and culture of living in a Malay village. We find that the local children really gain from meeting children from other cultures and backgrounds!
8. Is there internet access?
There is limited internet access on the island but volunteers are able to use the communal internet dongle at the Ecoteer House. The WiFi is usually quite weak, so it is recommended to purchase an affordable local sim if needed.
9. How long is the typical volunteer working day?
The volunteering activities run from morning until evening with a lunch break in between. For volunteers staying longer than one week, Sundays are usually free days.
10. I want to do more to help the islands! What else can I get involved in?
There is plenty you can do! We have mini projects that we can allocate you to complete in your free time. Whether it’s making and developing our handicraft products using waste found on the beach, helping improve our awareness campaigns, or conducting tourist questionnaires and talks at resorts around the islands, there is plenty for you to get stuck into!