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Cambodia Marine Conservation N.G.O. Internship

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Cambodia Marine Conservation N.G.O. Internship

Live on an exotic paradise private island, research and protect pristine coastal ecosystems on a Frontier-Cambodia NGO conservation internship.

Prices from US$2,245

Cambodia’s coastal paradise is home to some of the most spectacular diving and gorgeous beaches in the world. The crystal clear waters host a wealth of marine habitats and wildlife, making this a perfect location to snorkel while exploring a magical underwater world. Cambodia’s coral reefs support a dazzling array of tropical reef fish and seahorses and provide rich feeding grounds for turtles, manta rays and a wealth of other marine creatures. The deep blue offshore waters support reef sharks and majestic whale sharks, as well as vast shoals of cruising pelagics.

You will be living on Koh Smach a paradise island, fringed with palm trees and white sandy beaches. Join us there for fragrant sun-drenched days and balmy exotic nights, swimming in crystal blue sea and doing fascinating research that helps to support local coastal and marine conservation. Let the spirit of Cambodia bewitch you with its vibrant Asian culture, heavenly beaches and dazzling sea life – the perfect paradise location for your Frontier adventure!

As you explore the exotic seascape around the island you will be getting involved in a real, ongoing conservation project. You will be helping to discover and chart the health of extensive areas of coral, record populations of fish, and survey the huge diversity of inter-tidal animals - from tiny hermit crabs to pastel-hued anemones. On shore you'll learn about the activities of the traditional island fishermen, as well as discovering and reporting which marine organisms are being sustainably harvested and which are being dangerously depleted. You’ll also be helping to investigate the long term effects of global warming on Cambodia’s corals.

The work you’ll carry out will be rewarding, challenging, and hugely beneficial to conservation efforts, as well as being fantastic fun. You will gain immense satisfaction from knowing that your input will help to protect this precious marine wilderness for future generations.

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  • Help to monitor & conserve marine wildlife in Cambodia
  • Work on data from some of the world's best snorkelling sites
  • Snorkel crystal clear waters
  • Make lifelong friends and return with incredible stories, photos and memories
  • Extend your experience of tropical marine and coastal zone conservation field work
  • PADI dive courses available (Please consult and book with your adviser before deployment , dive courses are conducted off-site)


  • CV required
  • Minimum 2 month placement
  • Relevant academic qualifications to at least degree level
  • Some experience of coastal zone or marine field work



Location Cambodia, the private island of Koh Smach
Activities Learn to map coral reefs
Help with environmental education in local communities
Explore & record living organisms - in the ocean and on shore
Underwater visual census of reef & commercial fish
Assessment of algal & coral cover to determine the extent of coral bleaching & damage
Line intercept transects for benthic life & indicator invertebrate species
Record observations of the feeding habits & behaviour patterns of a range of marine life
Report the effects of global warming on marine communities
Observe the impact of fishing and other harvesting on the life of the reef

Airport pick-up for those arriving into Phnom Penh can be arranged at extra cost (£100GBP / $150USD)
Airport pick-up and drop off for those travelling to and from Phnom Penh can be arranged at extra cost (£135GBP / $200USD)
Bus and ferry/speed boat transfer to the island £15/$25

Accommodation Beach camp 




Before you go

Pre-departure support & documentation
Travel & medical advice from dedicated personal travel adviser
Advice on visas & equipment
Discounted medical kit
Free Frontier t-shirt
UK residential briefing weekend including food, accommodation and training (extra cost applies)

In-country Project orientation and training
In-country emergency support
24-hour international HQ back-up



A variety of qualifications are available on many of our projects. For example, BTEC certificates and diplomas on our Group conservation projects and TEFL certificates and BTECs on most of our teaching projects. You may also be able to gain a CoPE to support your university application. For more information on these qualifications, please see the qualifications section of our website or ask your volunteer advisor.


The aim of the Frontier-Cambodia Reef Conservation Project is to better understand the country’s marine resources, and to provide teaching and training to local island communities to enable them to make informed decisions regarding the management of their coastal ecosystems.

To achieve this mission, you will conduct scientific baseline data surveys of reef areas, including mapping the health of the reefs. We also identify patterns of resource use, and we work with local communities to support environmentally responsible development.

Some of Cambodia’s corals were recently damaged by a bleaching event caused by high sea temperatures. Global warming is believed to be to blame. Your project aims to chart the extent of this damage and to monitor how the reefs are recovering. We hope that this information will help to support management of damaged coral reefs around the world.

The island of Kaoh Smach has never been studied and the local people are keen to be involved in protecting their marine and coastal biodiversity, making this a perfect location for both research and practical conservation activities. You could have the opportunity to work on all sorts of tangible conservation and research, both land-based and marine. As well as marine work, you could be doing bird counts or vegetation surveys, or you might have the chance to join the local community members as they fish around the island. Marine conservation interns are invited to join the project for 2 months minimum.    


The project’s work aims to provide local stakeholders, research organisations and government bodies with the information they need to design and implement management plans for the future protection of key marine and terrestrial ecosystems.

To gather the data needed you will be surveying to locate and map the extensive coral reefs and study their various wildlife communities. You will also explore and record the organisms that inhabit the inter-tidal zones and the island's inland areas. To do this you will deploy a wide range of newly learned research skills and scientific techniques including: underwater visual census of reef and commercial fish such as triggerfish and parrotfish, assessment of algal and coral cover to determine the extent of coral bleaching and damage, and line intercept transects for benthic life and indicator invertebrates such as nudibranchs. You will record observations of the feeding habits and behaviour patterns of a range of marine and terrestrial life. You may even get to study the impact of artisanal fishing on the coral reefs or report the effects of global warming on marine communities.

Whilst snorkelling, you'll see an extraordinary array of animals from stunning angel fish to the shy porcupine fishsea cucumbers to feathery starfish, spiny urchins to octopus and seahorses. By the end of your internship you will be expert at identifying hundreds of colourful and patterned reef fish as well as being an experienced and competent marine and coastal zone surveyor. Although the work is intense and challenging you'll get immense satisfaction from having achieved so much and from having made a valuable contribution to the conservation of this precious marine wilderness. You will return home with the new friends you've made and a wealth of fascinating stories and memories.

Your co- workers will be committed, energetic and dynamic with a  mix of ages and experiences, they will all share a passion for travelling in developing countries and working in marine wildlife conservation. Your staff colleagues will be young, friendly individuals who are highly experienced in their research field and may have started their careers as Frontier volunteers.


If you have booked an airport pickup you will be welcomed at Phnom Penh Airport by other Frontier field staff or Frontier representatives. From here, you’ll travel to Poy Japon by bus (bus fare not included). A bus and a ferry will then take you to the island of Koh Smach (transfer costs not included) on a half hour journey to the your new home - the Frontier camp on our private island.

You will be welcomed onto camp by the Frontier team and introduced to the Frontier-Cambodia research and conservation program. You will meet staff, receive initial project briefings, including an introduction to the work programme and to the field research techniques used, as well as being given health and safety lectures, so make sure your medical kit is complete and start reading your Safety and Medical Guides now.


Here we aim to provide you with a unique and memorable living experience and to make minimal impact on the environment. This means that the camp is simple and mostly consists of impermanent structures. All building materials used on camp are sourced from local tradesmen who use environmentally friendly practices. Camp life is very simple, unsophisticated and fun. Your "shower" may be a jug or a bucket of water – perhaps even a shower of rain – and you’ll cook over an open campfire: so prepare for the basic, unencumbered, virtually footprint-less lifestyle! On occasion you may have to travel further from your beach camp to reach a distant survey site, and then you might stay in a “satellite camp”, usually a mosquito net pitched on a beach.

As well as taking part in surveying and marine conservation work you’ll help with scientific data entry and daily camp maintenance, taking turns to cook, tidy and clean the camp, clean and repair survey kit, collect firewood, collect and treat water, and help with a wide variety of other essential camp duties.

island camp


Camp food is basic but nutritious and consists largely of rice, vegetables, beans and noodles, all of which are purchased locally in order to help support the local economy. Luxuries such as chocolate, peanut butter and drinking chocolate are only available from Phnom Penh or Siem Reap or Koh Kong, so make sure you stock up before heading to the field. Also, with luck you'll be invited to local celebrations, holidays and festivals - a great way to interact with your local hosts and experience local culture.