Volunteer to protect Sea Turtles at the Borneo Sea Turtle Conservation Programme
Do your bit to save turtles and conserve the marine environment by volunteering with this important Sea Turtle Conservation project. Volunteers are needed to help with the conservation efforts through beach patrols, surveying, tagging and releasing turtle hatchlings.
“Words cannot begin to describe some of the memories I have.”
The Project: The Borneo Sea Turtle Conservation Project focuses primarily on protecting and conserving endangered green and hawskbill turtles that nest on the beaches around the project between May and September. Although officially protected by law, turtle eggs can still be sold at markets and poachers often raid known nesting sites at night.
Project Location: The Sea Turtle Conservation centre is located on a small and remote island, 45 minutes by boat from the eastern coast of Sabah, Malaysian Borneo. The nearest airport is Tawau whcih has excellent conections to Kuala Lumpur.
Main Volunteer Activities: Volunteers focus sea turtle conservation through beach patrols, surveys and tagging.
Hours: Volunteers six days a week, usually from around 9am to 5pm.
Duration: The turtle nesting season is usually from May to September so volunteer placements are available for these five months each year and last from for 2 to 12 weeks.
Accommodation: Volunteers have individual, private tents with mosquito nets, complete with comfortable airbeds, sheets and real pillows, and electric light & fan. Couples travelling together may share if they wish.
Volunteer Requirements: Volunteers at this project must be aged 18+ and be a confident swimmer.
Volunteer Placement Fee: From UK£795 / US$950
√ Arranged airport pick up from Tawau airport or your hotel in Semporna.
√ Accommodation in indivual tents on the beach.
√ All main meals.
√ In-country support from the project co-ordinators.
√ All necessary project equipment and materials.
√ All necessary project training by experienced staff.
√ Project donation.
What’s not included
- International and domestic airport taxes
- Cost of you taxi from the airport approximately MYR25 (£5, US$6)
- Medical and travel insurance
- Vaccinations and inoculations
- Meals, drinks and gratuities
- Extra local excursions
- Onward transport at the end of your placement
- Personal kit
- Police or background check (where necessary)
- Visa costs
How much do everyday items cost?
The official currency of Malaysia (and Malaysian Borneo) is the Ringgit. There are around 5.5 Ringgit to the pound and about 4.35 Ringgit to the US dollar. The cost of living in Malaysia is very low compared to most countries in the developed world. There is little opportunity to spend money on the island itself, but in the nearest "mainland" town of Semporna you can buy a range of goods. The costs of some typical items are:
- Short journey by taxi - 4 to 6 Ringgit
- Meal in a local restaurant - 3 to 8 Ringgit
- Western food such as pizza - 24 Ringgit
- Small bottle of water - 1.5 Ringgit
- can of beer - 8 to 10 Ringgit
This programme was launched in 2011 alongside the Borneo Marine Conservation project with whom the project shares all facilities on the island. The project's aim is to protect the nests of endangered green and hawksbill turtles whose eggs and flesh are considered a delicacy, despite their protected status.
In mating season as many as 40 turtles an hour have been counted in the waters around the project and in the summer the island can be home to up to 120 turtles. The project also work with local authorities to raise awareness of environmental issues and to enforce regulations protecting the turtles.
How the project is helping
Why the project need volunteers
The project receives no state funding, but through volunteer support, private donations and grants the Borneo Sea Turtle Conservation project is able to continue its vital work in conserving these beautiful, endangered marine creatures.
Volunteer with Sea Turtles to make a huge difference by helping the project's local staff with their work including turtle surveys, nest protection and the releasing of hatchlings into the sea. The more volunteers there are at the project, the more vital work can be carried out.
Volunteer with Sea Turtles
Typical Volunteer Duties
• Mixing concrete and producing bases for hard and soft coral planting.
The Snorkelling and Sea Turtle conservation programme only runs from May to September when the sea turtles are nesting on the islands beaches. Volunteer with Sea Turtles and make a difference for these amazing creatures!
After collection from the airport in Tawau, you will be taken to the jetty at Semporna, the closest coastal town to the island, where a scenic boat ride will get you to the camp on Pom Pom, which surrounded by deserted white sand beaches, crystal clear water and a panorama of tropical, jungle-clad islands.
Volunteers cook with others on a rota and the project provides food for three meals per day. Vegetarians can be catered for.
NB: There are currently travel warnings in place for Pom Pom island due to some isolated local incidents.
We ask volunteers check the FCO website or their own country's government travel advice before travelling.
There are some tasty and inexpensive seafood restaurants as well as great Indian food available in the Tamil restaurants. There is also a very well stocked supermarket here for buying up provisions to take back to the island. Internet cafes are found here too.