I was lucky enough to join the New Heaven Reef Conservation Team as part of my university degree. I found those 4 weeks where the most eye opening and rewarding experience that I could ever imagine. Every day we dove to various locations around the island to undertake predator collection (Crown of Thorns and Drupella), ecological monitoring, fun dives, muck dives and assisting the reef regrowth by restoring artificial reefs. I learnt so much and this experience changed my entire mindset not only as a person but also as an upcoming aspiring marine biologist. I am still studying a Bachelor of environmental science however when finished I aim to become a dive master and follow the footsteps of the people I met here and make a difference. I have met some of the most interesting and inspiring people who are now some of my closet friends and I can’t wait follow their successes in the future. Everybody was unbelievably welcoming and this trip will always be a highlight in my life and I will forever be grateful for the opportunity. Before leaving the island I was already planning my return trip. I encourage everyone to join NHRCP for as long as you can spare to help – everyone can make a difference. Individually we are a drop, together we are an ocean.
Emily Monacella (Australia), Student January 2018
Elliot Young (UK), Student April 2017, Intern April 2018
Jeanne Benichou and Nienke van der Loosdrecht (France and the Netherlands), Interns 2018
My time with New Heaven Reef Conservation Program not only made me a better diver, it introduced me to marine conservation and my own capability to create change. Being welcomed by a team of scientists and conservationists who are eager to share their knowledge made me look forward to every day at the program—a lecture at the school and then to the boats for a dive and a hands-on conservation technique on the reef. Each dive has the potential to bring something new, whether it be a rare sea slug sighting or the growth of a transplanted coral, and as an NHRCP student, the underwater world opened up for me more with every dive. Students and staff of the program come from all over the world and the friendships I made exposed me to different languages and cultures and made me realized how conservation is a global effort. New Heaven Reef Conservation Program is training the next generation of conservationists and giving us the tools and voices to create a positive impact on the marine ecosystem. I look forward to coming back!
Maggie Seida (USA), Intern March 2017
Having very little knowledge of marine life prior to my time on Koh Tao I was considerably nervous before starting with the NHRCP. However, all those nerves melted away before the first day on the program was over. I was a student there for three months and my only regret was not staying longer. The people in the program have an amazing ability to make everyone feel as welcomed and valued as possible, making it very easy to work confidently alongside them.
Prior to my time with the program I had very little knowledge of marine life but after all of the daily morning lectures I have learnt so much that was not only mind-blowingly interesting but has also improved the quality of every dive for me. As exciting as it is seeing all of the incredibly beautiful fish and corals it was absolutely fascinating to be able to spot out the tiny sea slugs and many of the hidden marvels that also live in the marine ecosystems which we visited every afternoon.
Each dive we’d visit some of the most beautiful dive sites I’ve seen and work extensively on anything ranging from coral predator collection to maintaining artificial reefs, with each job being just as rewarding as the last. Whether you want to make your contribution to marine conservation, expand your knowledge on marine life or just have an amazing time this is definitely the place to go. I made incredible friendships and loved every day more than the last. I look forward to re-joining the program someday soon!
Conor King (Zimbabwe), Student January 2018
My time at new heaven was one I will never forget, it completely changed my life and career path. I arrived knowing barely anything about the different ecosystems and felt nervous that I wouldn’t understand anything as I didn’t have a background in marine science. I couldn’t have been more wrong. The instructors are so supportive and always keen to answer any questions you have and never leave you feeling clueless, you can sit through the lectures as many times as you like until you are happy with your understanding.
A typical ‘marine conservation’ project would be just completing a fish survey but here you learn so many different aspects of the marine world from reef restoration, to algae, to sea slugs and everything in between.
If you didn’t think it was possible to enjoy diving any more than you already do, wait until you start to learn about everything you are seeing underwater and all the symbiotic relationships. It starts to become addictive as you just want to learn more and more... Not to mention the relaxing dives of sitting around a beautifully sculpted tree attaching coral fragments giving them a second chance at life... It is a completely new level of love!
Each day you return feeling fulfilled and so motivated to carry on with this incredible work.
I’m so grateful to have been able to be part of such an amazing experience and I would go back in a heartbeat!
Purdey Oldworth (UK), Student May 2018
What in life could be better than staying on a beautiful island, diving in stunning ecosystems, spending time with inspiring people, and working and learning to protect our planet?
I first came here as a student for a 2-week program and then came back again for 3-month internship. Not only was it some of the most wonderful experiences I’ve ever had, but it also gave me inspiration. The ocean became a whole new world for me. The more I learned about it, the more I fell in love with it and realized how important it is.
The knowledge I’ve gained from the program also changed the way I see the ocean. I remember sitting and looking at the sea when I almost finished the internship, and realized that the sea would mean something different to me from now on. It’s not just a body of water with wavy surface anymore, but it’s a home for millions of amazing creatures. And those creatures have a profound connection with us. They are our life-support system.
This 3-month experience made marine life become my friends. It has inspired me to do something to protect them.
Maythira Kasemsant (Thailand), Intern May 2018