I’m Leo, I’m an industrial designer with a passion for marine conservation, and I found the New Heaven Conservation Program to be one of the most unique and rewarding educational programs I’ve ever gone through.
Each class focuses on a specific topic within reef conservation; each daily dive provides not just an amazing diving experience but also hands-on reinforcement of the topics and techniques that were just covered in class, and surrounding everything is a strong sense of connection with the local ecosystem and community. Being a part of the New Heaven program is not just diving or learning or visiting a beautiful place (although it is all of those), it’s about realizing our relationship with the oceans: what it has been in the past, has become in the present, and could be in the future. As an individual, it can often feel like issues regarding the oceans are too vast for one person to have an impact or even grasp. Attending this program, and meeting the passionate people behind it helped give me context for the roles that we can fill and really helped shape the direction of the work that I want to do.
To anyone who is at all interested in learning more about reef ecosystems and what we can do to help them, I wholeheartedly recommend the New Heaven Reef Conservation program. I loved every minute of it and can’t wait to return to get even more involved.
Leo Hummel (USA) July 2021
Student in 2nd year of Biology option Marine Biology at Sorbonne University, I wanted to find an internship combining teaching and putting into practice theoretical courses.
New heaven reef conservation allows to put into practice the lessons learned in the morning by diving in the early afternoon. The courses are varied and taught by Kirsty, marine biologist of the center. This internship is serious in teaching, it allows students in marine biology to put into practice their teachings but also passionate people to discover the joys of marine conservation.
From the first class, we feel Kirsty’s passion and her enthusiasm is communicative. The dives are the practice of different survey techniques and supervised by Kirsty. I learned a lot during this internship that I could reuse in the future.
I especially want to say that the whole team of New heaven is extraordinary as much by their kindness as by their seriousness, during these 1 month of internship I had the impression of being in family.
I advise everyone to come to New Heaven in this corner of paradise that is Koh Tao with an exceptional seabed. I will definitely come back!!!!!
Héloïse Marte (France) July 2021
Matilde & Simone
Hello everyone, we are Matilde and Simone.
We are two marine biologists, our experience at New Heaven Dive School has started in February 2021, we arrived in Koh Tao after the horrible covid year, so we were full of energy and with a lot of desire to do, and fortunately, we found the perfect place to make it possible.
We spent in Koh Tao 4 amazing months, full of emotions, scientific research, friendship, so much sea, and sweet dogs. Our experience started with one month of preparation we followed the lectures that Kirsty gave to us, it was very interesting to start to understand all the secrets and the interconnection of this reef. These first 4 weeks had been intense and emotional we studied through these lessons and then we tried to apply all underwater during the dives. So, day by day we started to improve our skills recognizing the indicator species like fish invertebrates, etc. Lectures are amazing super interesting and diversified, Kirsty explains all with a lot of passion, so it was a pleasure to listen to her. Our favorite part started after one week with coral taxonomy, it could be hard at first but it is the best satisfaction when underwater you begin to identify correctly all the genus, it’s a beautiful challenge and it was also funny with the coral safari dive.
It started to be the best life that every marine biologist can imagine studying what passionate you about and dive into that amazing part of the ocean. After the first month our way to look at the ocean started to be different, underwater we felt more focus on the details, and we start to understood the importance that all the organisms have inside this ecosystem. Each dive has been a piece of knowledge more with a new focus on new interactions, symbiosis. Some of our favorite dives have been the night UV, where all the corals appeared sparkling green and everything seemed magic, another great experience was the spawning night we felt so blessed because it happens just one/ two time per year. We were there surrounded by corals eggs looking one of the most special events in nature.
As guessed, we are super passionate about corals, so we decided to proceed with a project on coral disease. For us was a great thing to have the possibility to run this research. Kirsty gave us the chance of collected data in different bays doing several replicas over three months, thanks to that we really improved our knowledge about diseases and we also have found some interesting results. We didn’t focus our attention just on indicator species we also built a metal artificial structure where we have attached fragments of corals, it was amazing. We did all together with the others intern from the design to the positioning of it underwater creating our small artificial reef. We did some clean-up underwater and, on the beaches, everyone just cares about the ocean and environment, and for us, there is nothing better than share this passion.
The atmosphere at New heaven was great, everyone tried to make you smile and they are happy to see everyone happy. We felt part of their family. Everyone gave us something that we will keep forever with us.
We could go on writing about how incredible and life-changing these months have been, but no if we told everything we would spoil all the surprise. So, if someone is looking for a place where he/she could work for the ocean, with amazing people New heaven is the answer.
P.s Just thank you to all of you it has been a pleasure working with you, we hope to come back as soon as possible. So much love.
Matlde & Simone (Italy) Interns 2021
Spending my time with NHRCP is the best decision I have ever made for myself as a young Fah because peeps here can make you feel like home wherever you are —underwater or on-land.
Not only marine ecological knowledge but this school can fulfill your soul, with the love and caring they give. It will be felt deeply in you wherever you are. I remember my first day of the class I was so confused, excited, and nervous of how an EMP survey would look like, but Kirsty (our mama ocean) always made sure everyone was fine and had fun.
Learning the Reef Conservation program is more than ordinary diving. You will be able to connect the dots of how underwater world works as an ecosystem and how valuable this place can be. I learn a lot from corals — as a shelter for others, they can be soft, hard or strong, can be unique, and can help maintain lives for others. Kirsty always added on knowledge or answered every questions the team had. She loves to share her blue passion with everyone, I truly love the moments with her and everyone here. This program inspires and reminds me that it would be so great if everyone can get a chance to learn about these precious creatures, so they we will be able to understand and care for our shared world in a deeper and in a more sustainable way.
I remember that my first day diving with it was heavy rain, and we saw a big random net covering coral reefs in Chalok. The NH team just suddenly jumped from the boat and swam like a group of killer whales to combat the net and that was the moment I was surely knew I will get along well with them for the rest of my stay.
The most enjoyable moment for me is muck diving because you will never know what you will discover. I was so stunning with the couple of porcupine rays right after we descended. I love the way we moved as a team in V shape and laughed with how innocent we were to seriously find little inch seahorse or slugs haha . I remember the reason why we were so intensely focused since Devrim told me that “you know why seahorse is so important? cause life begins underwater”
Actually I love every project here: Coral predator collection with Crown of thorns and Drupella, Moonwalking for coral gardening, Pet sushi (our beloved injured turtle) release, Coral disease survey, oooh and Coral safari! I think we should have a one-year program because you will never feel it is enough .
It is a real bliss of my life to be able to practice EMP skill and work with them. I encourage everyone to stay connected with the programs or events this school will provide soon in the future because the team are truly professional and knowledgeable. And, most importantly they genuinely love the ecosystem.
So I think we should support a local business like this to be a grass-root model that builds strong community engagement in your area. Hard work really paid off Newheaven Reef Conservation school! I love you all and please stay healthy and lovely exactly the way you are.
Fah Fish (Thailand) Student July 2020
I joined NHRCP in 2020 and it was a life changing experience for so many reasons.
Being at NH is like being in a family, the environment is so friendly and relaxed and everyone always make sure that you're feeling comfortable.
Meanwhile I learned everything about coral reefs and that gave me the possibility to look at them under a completely different light, as an incredibly living and dynamic ecosystem.
I also had the possibility to improve as a diver: by practicing conservation dives I learned how to use diving as a tool and that made me increase my diving skills at an exponential level.
So I would definately recommend this experience not only to anyone interested in marine biology but also to any diver who want to increase his ability and gaining a deeper knowledge of the marine environment. You won't be disappointed!
Elisa (Italy) Intern Feb 2020
One of the best things about New Heaven is their commitment not only to the dive community but the local community on Koh Tao as well.
The courses offered inspire divers of all skill levels to become stewards and protectors of the beautiful underwater environments they are exploring.
The lectures allow you to learn amazing facts about sea turtles and whale sharks, as well as gain a deeper understanding of how plastics, climate change and divers themselves are having an effect on the reefs and what we can do about it.
Back on land, New Heaven helps organise frequent beach clean ups, fundraisers and barbecues, all of which help foster a greater connection to the community living on Koh Tao.
It truly feels like being welcomed into a big family.
Hartley Hesse (USA) Intern Dec 2019
Interning at New Heaven Dive School for 3 months was truly an amazing experience that I will never forget.
While traveling to a country I had never been to before was a little unsettling at first, every worker and member of the team at the dive shop made me feel totally welcome and it felt easy and natural to make friends. The diving experience was also amazing.
Different diving locations all have something unique to offer and enjoy. Attending classes quickly enhance the diving experience because you learn so much about different corals, fish, invertebrates, and more. This knowledge makes diving much more enjoyable than if you were to dive with an untrained eye.
I felt proud to intern at a dive shop that valued conservation above all else.
New Heaven took treatment of coral and all wildlife extremely seriously and the leaders dedicate so much of their time and energy to preservation. The whole experience taught me so much about myself and the ocean all while being at one of the most beautiful locations on the planet.
I would recommend being a conservation student/intern at New Heaven Dive School to anyone who wants to learn more about conservation of the ocean and have an amazing time while doing so.
Hunter Hoye (USA), Intern Jan 2020
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
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
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 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
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