Travel to the warm, crystal clear waters of the Indian Ocean to contribute to coral reef recovery research and coral rehabilitation. Learn about how climate change is causing coral bleaching, what is being done to limit the damage, and encourage recovery. In the process, earn your PADI Advanced Open Water and PADI Reef Ecosystem Diver (RESD) Specialty.
On this program, you will be trained up on diving best practices and earning your PADI Advanced Open Water certificate before starting your monitoring of the reef. Please note that you will need to be PADI Open Water certified before joining this program. Receive the PADI Reef Ecosystem Diver (RESD) Specialty segment of the PADI Divemaster course. This unique offering by GVI & PADI teaches you about best practices when conducting underwater coral reef surveys. This is offered to participants staying for longer than 2 weeks on the program.
After completing your dive training and learning how to identify coral species and how to carry out different coral monitoring techniques, you will assist our international team of researchers to monitor specific dive sites for coral reef recovery. Depending on weather conditions, we aim for all participants to have the opportunity to experience one or two dives or snorkels per day during weekdays. All the data collected on these dives is passed on to the Seychelles National Parks Authority, for use in their management decisions.
You will also have the opportunity to participate in our coral reef rehabilitation initiatives, where we work to grow the most resilient coral in shallow water, protected coral nurseries and then transplant the, now larger and more established, corals onto the reef.
Assist with coral reef recovery research, coral reef rehabilitation and other vital marine conservation initiatives.
Explore different dive sites among the tropical islands of Seychelles and experience incredible local marine megafauna like turtles, sharks, rays and dolphins.
Contribute to ongoing environmental projects that address critical challenges aligned to the global UN SDGs.
Join local conservation partners and qualified professionals to ensure your efforts are highly ethical, meaningful and sustainable.
Venture outside typical travel itineraries to get exclusive access to extraordinary remote habitats, rare species and unique ecosystems.
Share epic experiences with like-minded, passionate changemakers from all over the globe.
With expert local staff and 24/7 support at every step – you can relax and enjoy the experience stress-free.
Disconnect from the digital world and reconnect with nature, yourself and your purpose.
Some of the example typical activities you could participate in on this program.
Learn how to identify species and conduct surveys so that you can contribute to data collection efforts and help build an inventory of marine species in Seychelles.
Assist with reef ecosystem monitoring to assess bleaching and growth/recovery rates of the coral. You will also get involved with invertebrate, fish, seagrass, shark and other megafauna surveys.
Assist with additional activities as needed. This might include: seagrass ecosystem monitoring, marine megafauna sightings, weekly beach cleans, and entering data from beach patrols and cleanups into citizen science databases.
Gain more diving experience by completing different types of adventure dives: deep water, underwater navigator, peak performance buoyancy, underwater naturalist, night diver, search and recovery diver, and boat diver.
Learn primary and secondary care theory and then practise applying these skills in role-playing scenarios designed to improve your first aid knowledge and prepare you for an emergency.
Undertake a PADI specialty that is exclusive to GVI – the PADI Reef Ecosystem Diver (RESD) Distinctive Speciality. This certification has been uniquely designed to advance your conservation diving skills and teach you how to conduct coral reef surveys.
Increase your awareness of diver safety, manage more complex situations, and apply direct intervention techniques via role-playing rescue scenarios. Only applies to programs longer than 8 weeks.
Some of the partners we work with on base.
|24-hour emergency desk|
|24-hour in-country support|
|Airport pick-up (unless otherwise stated)|
|All project equipment|
|Food (except on long-term internship placements|
|Safe and basic accommodation (usually shared)|
|Group introductory call|
|Endorsed GVI Specialisation Course|
|Endorsed Leadership Course|
|Sustainable project work|
|Data collection and research|
|Real projects with partners|
|Weekly group check ins|
|Remote Academic Internship Supervisor|
|Remote Career Internship Supervisor|
|Preferential recruitment on GVI positions|
|Job portal access|
|Endorsed Careers Course|
|Career coaching sessions|
Certificates and achievements
|PDF reference - upon request|
|Linkedin reference and skills endorsement|
|Additional drinks and gratuities|
|Extra local excursions|
|International and domestic airport taxes|
|Medical and travel insurance|
|Personal items and toiletries|
|Police or background check|
A short three-minute walk from the beach, our base in Baie Ternay Marine National Park is located in a picturesque location with tropical weather. With a thirty-minute walk to the nearest village and shop, our base is in a protected and secluded area. It almost feels like we have a private beach all to ourselves (the road ends at the base). The variety of marine life makes this an amazing location – you can see a plethora of life around the island and in the sea.
Originally a school, the building has been transformed into an environmentally aware research base with classrooms for presentations, a library containing marine identification books and resources, and a recreation room to relax in after a day of diving. There are also giant hammocks (for more relaxation) and a large grassy area for volleyball. We also have party and BBQ themed nights, and enjoy film and documentary nights in the rec room cinema. Outside in the seating area, participants like to sit and play cards, or just enjoy the weather. Life on base is much like a big family and we share cooking, cleaning, and dive operation duties on a rotation basis.
Those who’ve completed their intensive survey and dive training can look forward to short boat trips to the dive sites. Depending on the weather conditions and schedule for the week, dives take place once or twice daily, five days a week. On other days, you’ll either conduct marine debris surveys or environmental education sessions including awareness raising with the local community members, depending on the needs of the project at the time. Staff will often deliver presentations throughout the week, with study time included in the daily schedule. Days start early, with boat preparations or training, and end with dinner, followed by an evening debrief where we share with the group all the exciting things we have seen, and go through the schedule for the next day. After this, it’s time to relax, take in the beautiful sunset, and share stories. There are also a number of base dogs (who love lots of attention) to keep you company.
Being an eco-minded base, there is a recycling area on base, and planters for growing local endemic plant species, which utilise the harvested rainwater. It’s great when participants bring their own ideas and get involved with more eco-friendly practices, such as ecobricking and non-recycling storage methods.
See what it’s like to live off the beaten track! You’ll sleep in dorm rooms of up to eight people. The gender-separated bathrooms are shared, with showers and flush toilets. The...
We provide transfers from the airport to our base in Baie Ternay National Park, which is about an hour’s drive. The beach is very close to our accommodation so we simply walk do...
We are based in a protected natural reserve, which means that mobile signal doesn’t cover the entire area. There are spots with good phone coverage and we have a phone on base f...
Sample the many flavours of Seychellois cuisine, from fresh coconut water sipped out of the fruit to green papaya salad. All food is provided by GVI and prepared by participants...
The Seychelles has an equatorial climate, which means sunshine and warm water all year round, with temperatures averaging 26ºC – 30ºC (79ºF – 86ºF). Tropical rainfal...
Enhanced cleaning and social-distancing measures in place.
We want you to make the most of the chance to live in – and contribute towards – the most diverse and unique wildernesses and communities on earth. Introducing GVI Experiences – immersive adventure, cultural and wellness activities exclusive to GVI that have been specially designed in collaboration with our local partners to support and stimulate sustainable economic development.
Enhance your impact. Expand your adventure. Explore your world.
Joining a GVI program not only allows you to collaborate with communities or work toward preserving unique ecosystems – but it also offers plenty of opportunities to explore the surrounding area or travel further to see what other parts of the region have to offer over weekends.
Field staff are a great source of advice and have helped us put together the following information on local travel options. You can choose to travel before or after your experience with GVI (subject to immigration restrictions), solidifying the lifetime friendships you’ve established on the program. Please note that the below options are not included in the program fee, and would be up to you to arrange at your own expense.
The rum distillery at Pointe Au Sel is a popular destination for volunteers to visit. There’s also a tea plantation and local handicraft village ...
The capital of the Seychelles, Victoria (one of the smallest capital cities in the world) is only an hour away from our base in Baie Ternay Marin...
The most popular tourist spot on the main island of the Seychelles, Beau Vallon offers a massive stretch of beach, lined with shops and restauran...
Other than diving, there are many other water sports in the Seychelles, like surfing, kayaking, sailing and snorkeling. And of course, there̵...
Cap Matoopa is the highest point next to our base, and offers spectacular views of Cap Ternay Bay. Climb the jungle-encrusted granite rocks to th...
The dives we conduct on the project have a strict research focus. There are, however, plenty of opportunities to go for a recreational dive in yo...
The inner islands of the Seychelles, where you will be staying while on this project, are made of granite, which means there are many opportuniti...
From the capital of Victoria, you can catch a ferry to many of the other inner islands, like Praslin, La Digue, Silhouette, Felicity and Sister. ...
Engaging intimately with a new context teaches global awareness, adaptability and critical thinking – skills highly valued in the modern marketplace. Local and cultural immersion is encouraged on all our programs around the world, and will also be one of the most enjoyable aspects of your experience. Luckily, there are many different activities that you can get involved in during your free time, or before and after your program.
On our community programs, the focus is on cultural topics, while on marine or wildlife programs the emphasis is more on the environmental element. Use your evenings and weekends to explore topics like local cuisine and religion, or how sustainable development challenges are affecting local contexts.
GVI’s marine conservation program in the Seychelles is based on the main island of Mahe – the largest granitic island in the Seychelles, surround...
The Seychelles is a tropical archipelago off the east coast of Africa, consisting of over 100 islands. The islands located near the center of the...
07 Mar, 2019
If you’d like to find out what the experience of joining a GVI project is really like, simply contact us and we’ll put you in touch with one of our many Alumni.
We’ll try to match you to an Alum based on your location, nationality, age, stage of academic career, gender, and program interests. This allows you to gain insights into the experience that is most relevant to you.
Depending on your location you might be able to speak to an Alum over the phone or online, or meet up with them face-to-face at a coffee shop nearby. We also run a series of small events around the world where you can speak to GVI Alumni, Ambassadors and staff members.
‘If only every student could do this. It changes your life in all the right ways,’ says Chris Heritage, parent of Luke Heritage, one of our teen volunteers who has participated on two GVI programs, one in Costa Rica and another in South Africa.
We are a parent-run organisation that is incredibly serious about health and safety, and increasing the impact, as well as the long-term career benefits of our programs. Our programs help young people develop the skills to select a career path that is personally fulfilling, and live a life aligned to the well-being of our planet and the global community.
GVI is a proud member of the Gap Year Association.
Ken and Linda Jeffrey, whose son Sam volunteered with GVI in Thailand, talk about how the experience affected Sam. He also went on to volunteer with GVI again in South Africa. ‘I know it sounds like a cliche but in a sense, he did go away as a boy and he came back as a young man. Both of us could recommend GVI without any hesitation to any other parent thinking about exploring an opportunity for their children to explore the world and to see different parts of it.’
Download the Parent Pack and learn more about:
Our staff: All our projects are run by staff, selected, vetted, trained, and managed by our central office.
Health and safety: Our safety practices include a child and vulnerable adult protection policy and high participant ratios.
Staying in touch: See what’s happening on base, by following a hub’s dedicated Facebook page.
Free parent consultations: We would love to talk to you about exciting opportunities available for your child.
When it comes to support, we ensure that each participant is provided with unparalleled, 360 degree support, from your initial contact with the GVI Family, all the way through your program, and even after, as you become part of the GVI Alumni Team.
As part of this promise, we will ensure, whenever possible, that one of our dedicated staff will be available to meet you at the airport. In most locations, we also set up a Whatsapp group to help with managing airport arrivals. We will arrange with you prior to your departure that, should you arrive in the agreed upon pick up window, a member of our staff will be there to welcome you, easily identifiable in a GVI t-shirt or holding a GVI sign and wearing a friendly smile. This means there will be someone there to greet you as you land, and from there you will be transported to your GVI base to start your adventure and meet the rest of your team.
Enhanced cleaning and social-distancing measures in place.
All of our programs have short-, mid- and long-term objectives that align with the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (UN SDGs). This enables us to report on our collaborative impact across the world in a streamlined manner, measuring which UN SDGs we are making a substantial contribution to. Furthermore, this will help our local partners and communities measure and visualise their contribution to the UN SDGs.
Prior to your arrival on base, you will be educated about the UN SDGs. Then once you arrive on base, you’ll learn about the specific goals we have in this particular location, our various objectives, and also clarification of how your personal, shorter-term involvement contributes to these.
Our aim is to educate you on local and global issues, so that you continue to be an active global citizen after your program, helping to fulfil our mission of building a global network of people united by their passion to make a difference.
Healthy corals are key to the health of our planet. They help fish populations regenerate themselves, provide shelter for juvenile fish, assist in removing excess carbon dioxide from our atmosphere, and protect living spaces near the shore from damage by waves and storms.
In 1998, a massive coral bleaching event decimated many coral reefs, where up to 90% of coral reefs were lost around the globe, including the reefs surrounding the inner granitic islands of the Seychelles. Algae is the main food source for corals and helps to maintain their structure. Coral bleaching occurs when rising water temperatures cause the algae that live on corals to detach themselves from their hosts. Warm waters are the result of climate change caused by excess carbon dioxide in the atmosphere.
In addition to the high seasonal sea temperatures, the coral reefs around the Seychelles face numerous other threats, such as population pressure, poaching, and unsustainable tourism, all of which are challenging to quantify without a solid, scientific basis. In order to effectively manage and conserve the reef, a continuous monitoring program is necessary to build up a comprehensive picture of the ecological health of the reef.
Efforts to monitor the recovery of reefs in the Seychelles were initiated after the 1998 event. This began with a three-year project, named the Shoals of Capricorn, which extensively monitored the entire inner islands. The Seychelles Centre for Marine Research & Technology (SCMRT) was set up at this time to continue the work and to aid the Seychelles National Parks and Gardens Authority (SGPA), with the management of the marine parks. After the Shoals of Capricorn project, the monitoring was taken over by Reef Care International.
This program has a significant impact on local and national marine conservation laws and regulations, including the utilisation of GVI collected data to help establish and set catchment limits each year for key fisheries species.
Corals and Fish Surveys
We established our project in the Seychelles in 2004 with the aim of aiding our primary partner SGPA. At over 20 sites across the North-West coast of Mahe, GVI staff and participants use the protocols of Reef Care International in order to survey the reefs. These surveys include noting the health of existing coral, evidence of new young coral growing on the reef, the presence, abundance and diversity of fish and invertebrate species, and select species sizes. Data on coral recovery as well as fish abundance and diversity is passed on to the SPGA to assist with their management and legislative decisions, which might include updates to policies, expanding currently protected areas, or protecting additional areas from overfishing. For example, sea cucumbers are profitable, so we monitor them to assist our partners in making informed science-based decisions. In addition, we use a different citizen science coral monitoring technique to provide data to CoralWatch, a worldwide coral monitoring methodology based at Queensland University, Australia, which aims to monitor coral bleaching and recovery events around the globe.
Sharing our long-term monitoring data to SPGA allows them to better track and monitor changing reef dynamics and the potential recovery of coral species and coral reef associated species. This partnership provides invaluable data which is then used to petition for science backed policy changes to better protect the reefs and marine life in the Seychelles.
Commercial Marine Species Surveys
Unsustainable fishing is also a threat to the health of the Seychellois marine life. This affects the well-being of the local community (many of whom rely on fish for daily subsistence), and the growth of the local economy (seafood from the Seychelles is exported and sold to international visitors to the islands). Its underwater treasures are another reason why many people visit every year, bringing capital into the country. We assist the Seychelles Fishing Authority (SFA), through our partnership with SPGA, with monitoring commonly harvested species like octopus, lobster, and sea cucumber populations.
Marine Megafauna Sightings
Incidental sightings of marine megafauna like reef sharks and sea turtles occur frequently during dives, and this information is noted and passed on to the Ocean Biogeographic Information System or OBIS Seamap, an online database designed to keep track of various large marine species around the world.
Marine Plastic Pollution Cleanups
Beach cleans and ocean floor cleanup dives are also regularly conducted as part of the Dive Against Debris (DAD) initiative. For DAD, we dive to pick up marine fishing gear and ghost nets (these account for more than 50% of all marine trash) as well as discarded plastics and general waste. The data about types and amounts of marine plastics collected is sent to Project AWARE, an organisation established to monitor the abundance and diversity of marine debris around the world.
Environmental education is also an important part of our GVI Mahe program. The main aim of this program is to get members of the local community involved in discussions around issues affecting their marine environment. A new program called the LEAP Project (Locally Empowered Area Protection) has been established with our partners Nature Seychelles and aims to enhance coastal and marine socio-ecological resilience and biodiversity conservation in the Western Indian Ocean. With a much higher level of community engagement and involvement with local groups, such as schools and other environmentally focused local NGOs.
The UN Sustainable Development Goals
All of our programs have short-, mid- and long-term objectives that align with the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals or UN SDGs. We want to be able to measure our collaborative impact across the world in a streamlined manner, so all our staff and volunteers know which UN SDGs they’re making a substantial contribution to. This also helps our local partners and communities measure and visualise their contribution to the UN SDGs.
Prior to your arrival on base, you’ll be educated about the history of the UN SDGs. Then, once on base you’ll learn about the specific goals of your location, the long-, mid- and short-term objectives, and also insight into how your personal, shorter-term involvement contributes to these goals on a global level.
Our aim is to educate you on local and global issues, so that you continue to act as active global citizens after your program, helping to fulfil our mission of building a global network of people united by their passion to make a difference.
The main United Nations Sustainable Development Goals we strive to support at GVI Mahe are Goal 14: Life Below Water, Goal 15: Life on Land and Goal 17: Partnerships for the Goals.
GVI Mahe, Seychelles Long-term Objectives:
1. Provide a long-term and consistent collection of data, which assesses the overall health and development of the reef system in Northern Mahe on behalf of the Seychelles Parks and Gardens Authority. This data can also be used for regional coastal marine management and international understanding of changing reef systems.
2. Increase the scientific output and awareness of the project through the publication of findings.
3. Continue to support the International School of Seychelles by providing their students with environmental education with a strong focus on marine ecosystems and their inhabitants.
4. Increase in-country capacity by assisting with environmental education and training to members of the local communities.
5. Continue to minimise our environmental impact at Cap Ternay and raise awareness of environmental issues among our participants and visitors.
Below is a list of core ethics and best practices we believe are essential to the operation of high quality, ethical volunteer and sustainable development programs. We believe that all responsible volunteer and sustainable development operations should focus upon these principles. If you are considering volunteering, these are some of the key considerations you should question, to ensure that your time and money contributes towards positive change.
We want to constantly develop our own understanding of ethical best practice. In so doing, we aim to provide an exemplary industry standard for other education institutions, international development organisations, and social enterprises. Our Badge of Ethics stands for the drive to always do good, better. Find out more, click on the Badge below.
We aim to design all our projects in collaboration with local organizations and communities and ensure that they are locally driven.
We aim to clearly define short-, mid-, and long-term objectives with sustainable outcomes for all our projects.
We aim to track, record, and publish the impact of each of our projects.
We aim to build in-country capacity by assisting local organizations in becoming self-sustaining.
For each local organization we work with, we aim to have a plan in place for withdrawing support responsibly.
We aim to ensure that every participant is assigned a clear role and that they are fully trained and supported to carry out their work by specialized staff.
In all our actions we aim to respect the skills and efforts of all and seek to protect the rights, culture and dignity of everyone who engages with GVI.
We work to ensure that credit for the results of any project, along with any data collected, research conducted, or Intellectual Property developed, remains the property of local organizations.
We do not condone and aim to withdraw support of orphanages and residential care centers.
We will live by our Child Protection and Vulnerable Adult policies.
As an organization, GVI is committed to striving toward best practice, and to educating both our potential participants, our partners, and the world at large about them. Both the volunteering and sustainable development sectors are increasingly, and rightly, under scrutiny. Many recent local and global articles highlight poor practices and questionable ethics. GVI is widely recognized for striving to apply global best practice in the volunteering, education and sustainable development sectors throughout our operations by reputable organizations such as ChildSafe.
However, global best practice is always evolving and we dedicate both time and resources to engage with internationally respected experts and learn from the latest research to ensure our programs both fulfil their potential to create maximum positive impact, and minimise their potential to create unintentional negative impact. Along with and as part of the sustainable development and volunteering community, we are constantly learning and applying this learning to practice. We do not always get everything right, but we seek feedback from our community members, partners, participants and our staff, and react accordingly. We know are already doing a great job, and feedback we have received confirms this, but we aim to do even better and are continuously refining our operations to improve upon our already excellent reputation.
We don’t support or allow participants to work in institutional residential care facilities, also known as orphanages. We partner with ReThink Orphanages and Freedom United.
Our Child and Vulnerable Adult Protection Policy requires all our staff and participants to complete a criminal background check and to learn why you shouldn’t reveal a child’s identifying factors in photographs. We support the ChildSafe Movement.
We don’t offer any programs where our participants engage in medical treatment. This is because our participants aren’t typically qualified to do this work and would therefore not be able to do this work in their home country. Our participants only assist with public health programs.
We don’t offer any programs where our participants work directly with people with disabilities. This is because our participants aren’t typically qualified to do this work and would therefore not be able to do this work in their home country.
Each one of our initiatives is aligned to objectives set by a local organisation or professional. Our staff and participants work to support these local actors in achieving their specific goals.
Our participants don’t replace the staff employed by local organisations. Rather, they support currently employed staff with achieving their objectives. Our goal is always to increase local capacity to address local problems.
Participants require training and support to ensure that they carry out tasks correctly. Our staff provide this training and support so that local staff can focus on what is truly important to their organisation at the time.
We don’t support the use of wild animals for entertainment purposes. This includes riding animals, having them perform tricks, feeding or bathing them or getting close to them to take photos
We don’t encourage, support or allow the rearing of “orphaned” wild baby animals kept at a “sanctuary”. The conservation value of these types of programs is negligent and would only ethically be used in extremely rare cases
When wild animals are restricted for conservation purposes we follow the guidelines of Fair Trade in Tourism South Africa (FTTSA), approved by the Global Sustainable Tourism Council.
We ensure that the Five Freedoms of Animal Welfare are followed. These include the freedom to express normal behaviour and freedom from distress, discomfort, hunger, thirst, fear, pain, injury or disease.
We ensure that conservation efforts are also always locally led, that community needs are front-and centre of any conservation effort and that our participants, projects and partners work to increase local community engagement in local conservation efforts.
We don’t offer any veterinary programs or animal rescue and rehabilitation programs. We don’t allow participants to do any work they would not be able to do in their home country.
A GVI program is an investment in your career. No matter which you choose, you will be working toward improving your employability by mastering new social skills, gaining further technical expertise and earning qualifications in many cases. Most of our staff are, in fact, GVI Alumni, and we have helped many of our Alumni discover, move toward, and earn their own personal dream jobs. Each program includes introductory workshops, ongoing presentations, as well as on-the-ground professional support provided by our very own trained staff members. In addition, our training programs are critical for helping us to ensure the long-term impact of our sustainable development projects around the world.
Learn about COVID-19 pre-departure guidelines, base expectations, personal and area hygiene practices and what we are doing to keep you safe.
Learn about the importance of child and vulnerable adult protection best practices and how to apply them while on project.
Introduction to the history and evolution of sustainable development, the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (UN SDGs) and how these related to your project work.
Learn about our country locations and further opportunities available to you during or after your program.
Learn about our empowerment principles.
An introduction to different survey techniques and best practice guidelines for surveys; introduction to different types of data and how to record information via a datasheet.
Learn about biodiversity and how biodiversity is measured, and classifying different species and how to identify species that indicate the health of the habitat.
Learn about issues with plastic and measures that can be taken to help reduce plastic consumption.
Learn about what a coral reef is, its importance, how it is formed, how this ecosystem works.
Learn about the effect of waste on the ocean and what we can do about it. It is not required training but an additional presentation offered to volunteers and interns who stay for longer and have more time available.
This is a species of starfish that is harmful to both humans and coral. You will learn how to remove these from the reef safely. It is not required training but an additional presentation offered to volunteers and interns who stay for longer and have more time available.