How to Pick the Right Marine Research Expedition for You

How to Pick the Right Marine Research Expedition for You

Taking part in an expedition can be a unique and exciting experience and there are many varied and legitimate reasons for wanting to volunteer on one. However there are also a huge range of expeditions out there and sometimes it can be hard (and a little bamboozling) to pick the right one for you.

There are often many different elements to research expedition life, so it is worth doing some research and thinking about what aspects of work you would like to be involved with and whether this is possible in your preferred project.  Things to consider are:

  • Is there a particular area of the research program you are interested in?
  • Are you interested in learning survey techniques?
  • Do you want to learn to scuba dive or get the chance to add to your diving experience?
  • Are you interested in community outreach or education work?
  • Or how about camp management and operations?
  • Is there a particular country you would like to experience living in?
  • Do you get a gut feeling from the expedition company’s website?

If you are using the experience to help build your experience ready for a career in marine science and conservation you may want to consider these things:

  • What are the research aims of the project and how would you get to contribute to these?
  • What transferable skills would you come away with?
  • Would you get experience of specific survey techniques? Do you want to get experience analysing data?
  • Is the project publishing its research? Can volunteers play a part in this?
  • Does the project have good links with other organisations and local communities?

Other general questions you may want to think about are:

  • Where is the project? What accommodation is there? (Warning: expedition life is often basic!)
  • What health and safety measures are taken at the expedition camp?
  • What is the status of the expedition organisation: is it a charity, company or an institute?
  • How many other people with you be volunteering with?
  • What is the staff to volunteer ratio?
  • Is there the possibility to stay on as an intern or staff member?
  • To what extent does the project link with the local community?

It is a big step and potentially a large financial investment; do not be afraid to ask the expedition companies lots of questions to help you make your decision. Talk to staff, go to an open day if you can, ask if you can speak to an ex-volunteer. Make sure you end up getting the most fulfilling experience that is right for you.

Get out there, make a difference, see the World.

Good Luck!

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