Frequently Asked Questions for Incoming Volunteers and Interns
This is a quick fire guide relating to the basics of your stay with us, for anything internship or academic related please contact us with your enquiry and one of our researchers will get back to you as soon as possible.
Q: Where is Marine Conservation Cambodia located?
Marine Conservation Cambodia's main location is on the island of Koh Seh in Kep Province
Q: How do I get to Marine Conservation Cambodia?
A: For volunteers arriving in Phnom Penh, frequent and inexpensive ($5-10) buses run from Phnom Penh to Kep. Capitol or Sorya bus companies are popular and recommended. A Marine Conservation Cambodia boat connecting to the island leaves from Kep to Koh Seh at approximately 3:00pm on Mondays, Wednesdays, Fridays and Sundays. Please contact MCC at least one week prior to your arrival to confirm your date of arrival in Kep and our staff will help you arrange your travel on the free boat out to the island. Taxi's and airport pick ups can be arranged if requested.
Q: What type of visa should I get for volunteering in Cambodia?
A: General tourist visas ($25 USD) that are good for 30 days are available at all border crossings into Cambodia and at the international airports. These visas can be renewed only once for an additional 30 days and you can renew them easily on mainland in Sihanoukville. If you hope to travel within Cambodia and volunteer with MCC for more than 60 days, it is advised you obtain a business/“ordinary” visa ($35 USD) that can be renewed for three, six, nine or 12 months. More information on Cambodian visas can be found : http://www.mfaic.gov.kh/evisa/
Q: What length of time can I volunteer at MCC?
A: Most Marine Conservation Cambodia volunteers stay with the project for at least one or two months, but many volunteers and interns stay for mid- or long-term placements that can last up to six months or longer. It is beneficial for both the individual and the organization to allow enough time for the volunteer to obtain his or her scuba certification (open water and advanced) and be trained on Reef Check survey methodology so that they can become a contributing member of the conservation efforts. Diving certification and survey methodology training can take between two to three weeks to complete. Volunteers who choose to stay for only a few weeks will find that they are just hitting their stride as a volunteer right as it’s time for them to depart the island. We believe that volunteers who can take the time to stay for at least a month or longer will have a more rewarding and multi-faceted experience at MCC.
Q: What type of clothing should I bring for my work at Marine Conservation Cambodia?
A: Clothing should be suitable for warm/hot, humid weather, so light, quick-drying fabrics are essential in the tropical climate. Due to the frequent dive and snorkeling schedule, we suggest that you bring at least two swimsuits/swim trunks to alternate between. Out of respect to the Khmer culture, female volunteers are required to remain covered while in the village, on the beaches and on the dive boat, so please be prepared with shirts and shorts that you can swim in daily. We recommend rash guard shirts (often used for surfing and diving) and board shorts or lightweight running shorts. Many volunteers also find it useful to wear socks under their fins to reduce rubbing and blisters from frequent diving. Your work at MCC will also include beach clean-ups and physical work that may require you to get dirty, so please bring clothing suited for working in hot weather. Many volunteers also bring sports sandals or amphibious shoes that can handle wet conditions and protect their feet while doing beach clean-ups and walking through water and over rocks and sand. It’s also good to be prepared with a rain jacket or poncho for occasional rain storms. Many of these items can be purchased on mainland in Sihanoukville or Phnom Penh if you are in need of extra supplies before you arrive or during your time at MCC.
Q: Is there any specialized gear I should bring with me to the island?
A: MCC provides jugs of purified drinking water, so we advise bringing a refillable water bottle to help you stay hydrated while you work. (It also helps reduce the waste of purchasing bottled water in the village.) Volunteers may also find quick-drying camp/travel towels useful, along with waterproof bags or pouches to keep their valuables dry and sand-free on the beach and boats. When diving and surveying, it is helpful to have a waterproof (good for up to 25 meters) digital watch that can be used to time your dives. Additionally, volunteers are recommended to bring their own mask, snorkel and fins to use for diving and snorkeling (MCC provides shared equipment, so this gear is not compulsory). A waterproof camera or waterproof housing for your camera (good for at least 15 meters deep) is also a useful and fun tool for diving. Lastly, waterproof/sweatproof sunscreen is essential for working in the strong sun and mosquito repellant for keeping the bugs at bay. It is not necessary to bring your own sleeping bag, sleeping pad or mosquito net. (Note: Please see the information further below about what gear MCC provides for our volunteers during your placement.)
Q: Do I need to bring a personal first aid kit with me to the island?
A: We do have a fully stocked first aid kit but we also recommend that you bring your own. Due to the nature of the work and the tropical environment, it is important to bring a first aid kit with you. Volunteers often find themselves dealing with bug bites and small cuts or scratches that have become infected due to the frequent diving and living in a damp, tropical environment. We suggest that your first aid kit contain the following:
If you find in need of additional first aid supplies, most supplies and medications can be purchased at pharmacies on mainland in Sihanoukville. The medications are all inexpensive and “over-the-counter” and they do not require prescriptions from a doctor. MCC also has a first aid kit on hand for emergencies, but we encourage our volunteers to arrive on the island prepared to take care of themselves.
Q: It is necessary to take malaria pills in Cambodia?
A: Cambodia is within a malarial zone; however there has not been a case of malaria on Koh Rong Samloem in over five years. There have been cases of malaria reported in the central and northern parts of Cambodia, so it would be wise to take preventative measures if you plan to travel into those areas either before or after your time volunteering at MCC. It is up to each individual to protect themselves in the way they see fit. Anti-malarial medication can be purchased without a prescription from pharmacies on mainland in Sihanoukville.
Q: Do I need travel or health insurance in order to volunteer at MCC?
A: Though it is not compulsory to obtain insurance in order to volunteer with our organization, we highly recommend that you have coverage from a company in your home country. In the off chance of a medical emergency or damage or theft of your belongings, MCC will not be responsible to cover the costs associated. We like smart volunteers and smart volunteers get insurance coverage.
Q: Is it safe to bring valuables with me to the island?
A: There is very little crime on the island, but we recommend that all valuables (phones, cameras, mp3 players, tablets, laptops, etc.) are kept stored out of sight when they’re not in use. The volunteer bungalows can be locked but volunteers seldom choose to do so for the sake of convenience. Some volunteers bring small luggage locks to keep their valuables stored in their backpack after they’ve unpacked and settled into their bungalow. The tropical environment is often damp and sandy and insects are quite prevalent throughout the volunteer accommodation, so please use your best judgment with your electronics. MCC cannot take responsibility for any damaged, lost or stolen items, so we recommend you refrain from bringing anything that you couldn’t stand to lose.
Q: As an MCC volunteer, what is provided to me during my time volunteering for the organization?
A: MCC provides our volunteers with three hot meals a day, drinking water, tea and coffee in the main bungalow. All volunteers are provided with shared oceanfront accommodation (four people per bungalow) which includes a bed, pillow, linen, a light blanket and a mosquito net. It is not necessary to bring a sleeping bag. Volunteers who participate in scuba diving are provided with a mask, snorkel, fins, wet suit and a full scuba kit.
Q: What type of food is provided for volunteers?
A: Our local Khmer staff cooks three hot meals daily for our volunteers. The food is entirely Cambodian cuisine which contains lots of rice, vegetables, eggs and meat. We also give the opportunity for volunteers to get involved in the kitchen and show us their culinary skills.
Q: What is the volunteer accommodation like?
A: Our volunteers live in traditional-styled bungalows that are divided by gender. Each beach bungalow sleeps four volunteers and includes two twin-sized bunk beds and a bathroom. The bathroom has a western-styled toilet and a bucket shower.
Q: Do I need to be scuba certified to volunteer with MCC?
A: About 50 percent of the work done at MCC is done whilst scuba diving so it is best if volunteers can dive and fully participate in the project. If you are not already open water certified our staff can provide you with the appropriate training for different levels of PADI certification. We recommend that all of our volunteers become advanced certified so they have the navigation and buoyancy skills necessary to work on our reef and seahorse survey teams. The cost of certification is not included in your weekly volunteer fee. Courses and relevant certifications are available as follows:
Open Water Diver
Open Water & Advanced Package
Rescue Diver – Including Emergency First Responder certification -OR- $300 USD if you already hold a current EFR certification
Dive Master: Option available for volunteers staying for a minimum of three months. Price can be discussed with an MCC staff member prior to your arrival or during your stay.
Q: What type of volunteer work can I participate in at MCC?
A: Our work days are split into two parts: water- and land-based activities. Volunteers who are advanced diver certified will be trained in survey methodology and participate in seahorse or reef surveys twice daily. The seahorse surveys contribute to our research that is establishing population demographics, distributions, possible migration patterns and mating habits. The reef surveys help us keep record of various indicator species densities and sizes to help monitor our success at protecting the reefs that surround Kep Archipelago. The data we collect is analyzed and compiled quarterly into reports that are sent to the Cambodian government to help plan future conservation strategies. Volunteers with educational and/or professional backgrounds that would allow them to contribute to data collection and analysis or report writing are strongly encouraged to apply for an internship at MCC.
Q: I have an idea for a special project I would like to execute during my time with MCC. Is this allowed?
A: The MCC team encourages volunteers to identify areas where they can utilize their background and experience to contribute to the conservation and community projects. If you have a particular skill set or idea, many projects are feasible utilizing recycled or inexpensive materials. If you have idea before your arrival, feel free to email them to MCC staff for preapproval. Most volunteers arrive at MCC and quickly identify special ways they can assist.
Q: What is the work schedule like for MCC volunteers?
A: Volunteers work Monday through Friday from 9:00 a.m. to approximately 5:00 p.m. every day. You can expect to start your day with breakfast at 8:00 a.m. before beginning your work. Each day is split with diving during half of the day and land-based activities during the other half of the day and the schedule alternates depending on the tides and diving conditions. Advanced certified divers participating in the surveys generally have the opportunity to dive twice daily. Lunch is served at 12:00 p.m. and work resumes at 1:00 p.m. Expect to stay busy and participate in a full day of work until 5:00 p.m. and have a short break before dinner is served at 7:00 p.m. Following dinner, the MCC staff hosts trivia games, conservation documentary films and occasional information sessions.
Q: What is there to do in my free time on the island?
A: Volunteers have nights and weekends off, so there is ample free time to fill. Many volunteers arrive with games and playing cards to fill the time between activities and after meals. MCC also has an extensive lending library/book exchange filled with a wide variety of literature and science books. Our volunteers are welcome to go for “fun dives” (non-survey dives) on the weekend as well as snorkeling on the reef. Swimming, sunbathing and lounging in the multitude of hammocks that hang in the bungalows are also great ways to pass time. Groups of volunteers can arrange jungle treks and fishing trips with local guides who charge a small fee ($2-5 USD per individual). Games of football or frisbee happen quite frequently on the beach and there are always a lot of village children around who are eager to play games. The locals are very friendly and often excited to practice their English, so we encourage volunteers to spend time in the village getting to know the locals.
Q: What are the ways I can help MCC with conservation and sustainable practices?
A: It is suggested that volunteers bring their own reusable water bottle and/or cup and a reusable shopping bag to help reduce the waste associated with their purchases in Sihanoukville and M’Pai Bei village. The MCC bungalows are surrounded by the jungle and the sea, so bringing biodegradable/phosphate-free soaps and if at all possible, biodegradable sunscreen (it’s better for the reef!) will lessen your impact on our natural surroundings. Our volunteers often find themselves in the village, interacting with and making purchases from the locals. We expect our volunteers to lead by example by reducing their waste by utilizing their reusable water bottles and cups for drink purchases in the village. It’s also crucial to use the rubbish bins in the village and the recycling and compost bins in the main bungalow.
It is also suggested that volunteers refrain from using insect repellant, deodorant and other products that come in aerosol cans since they cannot be disposed of safely within Cambodia. We also recommend that your electronics use rechargeable batteries (vs. disposable ones) and suggest the purchase of a wind-up, solar powered, or rechargeable torch/flashlight.
Q: Is MCC in need of any materials I could bring with me to donate to the project?
Q: Is there an ATM where I can withdraw money on the island of Koh Rong Samloem?
A: The closest ATM is located right on the pier where our boat leaves from, there is a second located at Kep beach if the first is out off order.
Please Note: The United States Dollar and the Cambodian Riel are widely used and distributed throughout Cambodia. Most prices for transportation, accommodation and food are listed in USD.
Q: How much spending money should I bring with me to the island?
A: Since meals and accommodation are covered by the volunteer participation fee, volunteers usually spend very little money while living on the island. Soft drinks, beer and snacks are at normal shop prices and available at the kitchen.
Q: Does MCC recommend a specific Cambodian mobile phone service provider where I could obtain a SIM card for my unlocked mobile phone?
A: Our staff and volunteers have had success with SIM cards from Hello, Smart, Met Phone and Mobi Phone. The mobile reception on the island is quite weak, so regular access can be difficult even with one of the recommended providers.
Q: Is there wi-fi access and/or a mobile data connection on the island?
A: There is limited internet connection available on the island, smart phones can pick up a weak mobile data signal in most places on the island. The reception is sufficient enough for making phone calls, text messaging and sending/receiving emails, but the data connection is not strong enough for good web browsing.
Q: Are there laundry facilities on the island?
A: Volunteers can choose to hand wash their laundry with provided laundry detergent or to pay $1 USD per kilogram for hand-wash, air-dry laundry service by our local staff. There are machine laundry services available on mainland.
Q: Is there an address where I can receive mail during my stay with MCC?
A: The Cambodian mail system is known for being slow and unreliable at times. We have had instances where parcels have arrived many months after their intended recipient had departed MCC. If you still want to chance it, you can have mail sent to “Post Resante” at the Sihanoukville post office. In theory, the packages that arrive there will be held at the post office for pick-up. Packages should be addressed as follows:
(Insert your local Cambodian phone number and email address)
With 4 years of experience in Cambodia and a fully operational team of experienced, Marine biologists, Marine ecologists and environmental scientists Marine Conservation Cambodia welcomes international research assistants looking to gain practical conservation and research experience in the field, you can get involved our ongoing Marine research programs, community development projects and obtain your scuba diving qualifications while experiencing life on a beautiful Cambodian island. We need your help and you can really make a difference using our established conservation network. Many of our past interns and volunteers have either continued on to successfully complete their education or moved directly on into full time marine research or conservation work using the practical experience they gained with us.
If you are a non-diver, our experienced PADI instructors can train you up to PADI Advanced open Water Level within the first two weeks of your stay, after which you will be ready for training in underwater marine survey techniques so you can start collecting data as a marine researcher. You will not only gain personal skills and experience, but the data you collect go’s directly toward the development and maintenance of Cambodia’s First Marine Protected Area.
Welcome to the world of Marine Conservation Cambodia. As you have probably already read we are a small grass roots conservation group based in Kep Province, Cambodia. We are situated on our own private island, Koh Seh is roughly 18km from the mainland town of Kep. Kep Mainland itself is an area rich with history dating back to when Cambodia first developed as a country. With beautiful national parks and a diverse culture.
Almost on the border of Vietnam, our tropical paradise island of Koh Seh offers a sanctuary that can’t be matched. With sweeping views of our neighboring 6 islands, there is no place on Koh Seh the view is simply not spectacular. Our beautiful bay offers calm seas almost all year round, whilst the rest of the island is covered in dense Jungle. Koh Seh is an outcrop island, meaning it is essentially a small mountain that slopes to the warm tropical waters. The warm winds make it an ideal place to watch a sunrise, or climb over the hill for a breathtaking sunset.
Diving into our protected waters you can witness first hand the stunning diversity that is slowly coming back to our area. After the last two years of protection we are seeing an explosion of previously absent species. Regular visits from the Dolphins and the occasional Turtle are always a bonus. And even though we have not seen them yet we are also on the main migratory route for Dugongs too!!. Our work on the conservation of our area is something that any long staying volunteer can see direct results from during their time on the island.
Living on the island you will truly get to learn and love Cambodian culture. From eating local Khmer food to getting to know our local team members. It is a warm and welcoming culture, one which you will begin to love and will always remember.
If you are tired of witnessing the destruction of the world’s oceans, but don't know how you can make a difference? Thinking about volunteering, but don’t know which organization to trust? Want to take direct, hands on, action that will have an immediate result? You have found us, that is what we do daily and we need your help and support.
At MCC we are always looking for those dedicated volunteers and interns who truly want to make a difference. If you are looking for a beachside vacation with the odd dive here or there, MCC probably isn’t the place for you. We do NOT offer voluntourism, we do not try to sell you something we think you want, we integrate you into our team and continue the work we have been entrusted to carry out involving you and utilising your skills and passion, our goal is conservation and the regeneration of a once beautiful area that is in the beginnings of recovery.
With 8 years of operational experience in Cambodia and a professional team of experienced, Marine biologists, Marine ecologists and environmental scientists Marine Conservation Cambodia welcomes both volunteers and international research assistants looking to gain practical conservation and research experience in the field, you can get involved our ongoing Marine research programs, community development projects and obtain on the ground skills in marine conservation and marine research along with your scuba diving qualifications, at the same time experience living life on a beautiful rural Cambodian island. We really do need your help and you can really make a difference using our established conservation network. Many of our past interns and volunteers have either continued on to successfully complete their education or moved directly on into full time marine research or conservation work using the practical experience they gained with us.
While at Marine Conservation Cambodia our volunteers will learn multiple survey techniques as well as other types of marine conservation practices. We currently teach our volunteers surveying techniques in 6 crucial areas, marine species, marine habitat and community data collection, we also involve those that are interested or have come specifically to learn about Marine fisheries resource management and IUU: You can see a selection of our current research projects here:
The data collected from these surveys will be used to help assess the current status of our MPA (Marine Protected Area), plan and develop new MPAs, as well as educating the communities on what is happening in their waters. You can download our current Kep marine assessments here.
Not a certified SCUBA diver? No problem. We have a qualified dive instructor at MCC who would be more then happy to train and certify you. Want to become a dive master or simply upgrade your current dive level our staff can accommodate that as well. Having the ability to dive as often as you want makes getting those certification dives much easier not to mention much cheaper.
So if you are a non-diver, our experienced PADI/SSI instructors can train you up to PADI or SSI Advanced open Water Level within the first two weeks of your stay, after which you will be ready for training in underwater marine survey techniques so you can start collecting data as a marine researcher. You will not only gain personal skills and experience, but the data you collect go’s directly toward the development and maintenance of Kep's First Marine Protected Area. Further diving training is available on request, and many of our interns move on to higher level dive leader courses.
Diving Qualifications and skills you can gain include:
SSI Open Water
SSI Advanced Open Water
Extra, Buoyancy and Navigation training.
Practical Marine Survey skills including, advanced reef (including Inverts, Substrate and Fish) , seagrass and benthic habitat monitoring, marine species abundance and distribution monitoring.
Experience in our specialty Seahorse research covering behavior, distribution and breeding.
Further Dive training such as Rescue and Divemaster is available on request
Diving isn’t the only type of marine conservation we do at MCC. Weekly we head into the local fishing communities to collect data from actual local fishermen. This data is collected in our socio demographic surveys and helps get the locals view on the current status of Cambodian waters. Beyond an interview it is also a great way to meet locals and experience their culture.
Is data collection simply not enough for you? Do you want your efforts at MCC to have a direct, immediate result? We are one of the very few volunteer organizations who can accommodate these wishes. As a member of the MCC team you are more them welcome to join us patrolling our MPA. This is completely optional of course, but for those who have an adventurous side, it’s the ultimate conservation rush.
Aboard our privately owned boats you will head out to the MPA at all times of the day. From the middle of the afternoon to the middle of the night. There is no set time when illegal fishing is done, so we are always on call. Our volunteers and interns along with a representative of the Cambodian Fisheries Department will patrol with waters looking for any illegal fishing in our MPA. Chasing down boats, confiscating gear, and confiscating catches is only a sample of this adrenaline filled activity.
When the diving is done for the day the activities continue. From beach cleanups to recycling the garbage that washed up on our shores we try to practice as much conservation out of the water as we do in the water. We are currently developing a new type of composting technique as well as designing a battery powered by saltwater. All volunteers and interns are strongly encouraged to bring their conservation ideas to the island.
As we are a small privately owned conservation group, we tend to be much more relaxed compared to the larger worldwide charities. If you don’t feel like doing an activity or simply need a break from diving you are welcome to it. Explore the island and discover the hidden secrets of Koh Seh. From the different types of fruit trees to the war bunkers left over from Cambodia’s turbulent past, there is always something to do while at MCC.
The weekends are down time at MCC allowing the entire team to catch up on some much needed rest. You are welcome to stay on the island, filling your time however you want, or return to the mainland and explore the costal area of Cambodia. The Island on the weekend is extremely relaxing. From movie marathons to fun dives, it is your time, so do what you want. In town you can hike in the national parks or simply site poolside to work on your tan. Your activities are only limited by your imagination in Southern Cambodia.
Volunteering or being an intern with Marine Conservation Cambodia is truly a life altering experience. Many of our previous volunteers and interns have extended their trips or wished they had. Often we get volunteers and interns returning year after year. Many of the reasons they extend or return has to do with the conservation aspect of MCC, but another large part is the community like feel of life on the island. The friends you make at MCC will be friends for life!
Want to get involved and join our team? Simply fill out the form, to get the process started. Have questions you want answered? Just send us an email and we will respond. Thank you for taking an interest in Marine Conservation Cambodia. We truly look forward to hearing from you.
Please take a look through some of the areas that are available, to see current or previous reports by MCC researchers, interns and volunteers on the subjects below please follow the links to the relevant downloadable document.
Integrated Coastal Management, Including Fisheries Management and Socio-Economic Research
Marine Conservation Management
By special request, Prepare and inventory of terrestrial species both flora and fauna and their ecology within the 13 islands of Kep province. (We have already found 1 new species of orchid)
These are just some of the current projects already underway, if you dont see a current topic relevent to your needs, don't limit yourself to just these options we are always open to new ideas and methodologies, anything that will help our ocean and the local fishing communities is valuable to us and we will do our best to give you the resources and support to fulfill your choice of topic or project.
Please include your ideas when completing our Application Form
On February 4th we were invited to attend the release of two Green Turtles that we had assisted in rescuing from an Illegal IUU Vietnamese Pair Trawler. Late on the evening of the 3rd of February we locating the illegal boats and informed to Kampot Fisheries, their quick actions of apprehending
We just attended the first meeting hosted by the Ministry of Forestry Fisheries and Agriculture, together with the Department for fisheries conservation and Kep's provincial fisheries, to present
Artificial Reef Team is a group of four senior students majoring Environmental Science at Pannasastra University of Cambodia. We created this project for our BA thesis. The objective of our project is to create, deploy and monitor an artificial reef for improving ecosystems and enhancing marine r
I would simpy say because I love sea turtle, I love swimming, me and my family love beach and my dream is to float with sea turt