Song Saa Foundation
Location: Koh Rong, Cambodia
Duration: Minimum 4 weeks participation
Start dates: First Monday of every month
Costs: From $1750 USD, see Costs below for further details
- Gain personal hands-on experience in ground-breaking marine conservation initiatives.
- Work alongside experienced and passionate conservation professionals and scientists.
- Live and work in a traditional Cambodian fishing village community.
- Ideal for those studying marine biology and environmental conservation, or those with a keen interest in marine ecology and ecological conservation.
- Keywords: marine conservation, marine biology, field research, sustainable development, environmental
The Ocean Stewardship Program is the largest island-based marine conservation initiative in Cambodia. The program is located in southwest Cambodia and centres its efforts on assisting coastal communities in the Koh Rong archipelago. Resting in a well-managed conservation area, with enormous conservation potential, this is the ideal place to learn to dive and engage in pioneering marine conservation.
Our early efforts included establishing the first recognised marine reserve in Cambodia, setting up an artificial reef programme, delivering a youth environment education initiative and creating the first solid waste management system in the Archipelago.
By taking part in the Ocean Stewardship Program you have the unique opportunity to work with seasoned professionals, contributing to a lasting legacy for marine and community conservation in Cambodia. Data collected on the project will serve to assist in the management of Cambodia’s first Marine Fisheries Management Area (an internationally recognised marine reserve) and you will be among the only people collecting on-going marine survey data for this protected area. Your involvement in the project will promote the conservation and preservation of one of the most pristine marine environments in the lower Mekong region.
The first week of the programme is dedicated to the completion of the PADI Open Water and Advanced Open Water certifications, as qualified instructors take you through all the necessary steps to becoming a scuba diver. For those who are already certified, week one can be spent collaborating on community projects, including education workshops in the local community, healthcare outreach or beach clean-ups. These projects are also a great way to familiarise yourself with your new surroundings!
Once in possession of your shiny new certificate, the following two weeks will be given over to an engaging Coral Reef Ecology course, during which you will attend lectures, workshops and take part in practical in-water training sessions. In addition to the scuba training and reef ecology course, the expedition fee also includes a unique ‘Career Catalyst’ course, which will engage you with fundamental career development tools, to help propel you into a professional conservation career.
As week 4 rolls around you will be ready to start collecting marine survey data, which is the climax of the expedition. On average, you will complete two dives per day, however this is dependent on weather conditions and base logistics, thus there may be days when this is not possible. During these days, there are ample opportunities to get involved with other aspects and initiatives of the Foundation, such as engaging in community projects (e.g. running an art class with local children, or leading a group of local students to a rainforest waterfall).
A typical survey dive will take one hour, during which time you will collect population and species richness data for corals, fish and invertebrates, assess substrate type and gather ancillary data. At the end of each dive day, all data will be entered into a collective database for analysis.
During the evenings there will be opportunities to relax in a beach bar, try your hand at pool or darts, and read in our comfortable cabana – to name just a few ideas!
To apply or for more information please contact Ben Thorne firstname.lastname@example.org
Travel & Accommodation
During the expedition you will be living in our dedicated sustainability centre, located in a small village on the north side of Koh Rong Island. It is a traditional Cambodian-style building nestled within the local community. Each secure room is shared between a maximum of two volunteers, and is furnished with a fan, shelves, pillows, mattresses and mosquito nets. You will need to provide your own bed linen and towels. Electricity is available between 19:00 and 23:00 each day.
Training will be delivered at an air-conditioned building in a nearby facility which has 24-hour electricity, fast WiFi and hot water shower facilities, as well as a gym available for use during your time off.
You will be served three meals per day, cooked by trained Khmer chefs with a balanced and diverse array of choices. Unlimited drinking water will be provided during your stay. There is free WiFi available. We have a fully trained doctor on hand 24/7, in case of any illness. You may wish to purchase additional snacks, drinks and personal items during your stay, for which a weekly budget of $50 USD is recommended. Please note there are no ATMs on the island, thus you should budget accordingly.
Upon arrival in Cambodia you will need to make your own accommodation and internal travel arrangements prior to the expedition start. On the first day of your expedition you will be met by project representatives in Sihanoukville town (approximately 4 -5 hours by bus from Phnom Penh) and guided to the field site on our speedboat. Recommendations for internal travel arrangements and suggested accommodation for your pre-arrival time in Cambodia can be provided upon request.
- Minimum age – 18 years
- Minimum 4-week commitment.
- Interest in marine conservation and sustainable development
- Healthy level of general fitness and stamina
- Ability to swim 200 m unaided
- PADI Advanced Open Water certified (we can teach you this course on-site!)
- Travel & medical insurance (to include unlimited diving up to 30 m depth)
- Necessary vaccinations as advised by your local travel nurse or GP
- Valid passport (minimum 6 months until expiry from date of entry in Cambodia)
- N.B. Visas for Cambodia are very easy to get, and are obtained at the airport on arrival
- N.B. You will need to provide your own scuba mask, snorkel, fins, wetsuit (3-5 mm recommended) and booties. All other dive equipment will be provided for you on-site.
- First 4 weeks = US$1750 (flat rate)
- Additional 1-week blocks (after the initial 4 weeks) = US$250 per week
- PADI Open Water and Advanced Open Water courses (as required) = US$500 per course (includes completion certificate, all manuals, learning materials and activities – no hidden costs!)
* Places are confirmed with a $500 deposit.
Your Project Fee includes;
- All program activities, including scuba diving
- PADI scuba diving course fees and learning manuals (if applicable)
- Accommodation & food (3 hot meals per day)
- In-country support from experienced program staff
- Access to a gym
- Hot water showers
- Return speedboat from the mainland to island-site
- An engaging career development workshop
- First aid training
What’s Not Included:
Flights, visas, vaccinations, insurance, local land transfers, scuba mask, snorkel, fins, wetsuit and booties are not included.
For more information check out the Song Saa Foundation FAQ
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Please don’t forget to mention WiseOceans when booking your expedition!