Recycled Bottle reef restoration of coral reefs

TRACC volunteers have been busy on our bottle reef restoration efforts by making bottle reefs to extend the ribbon reefs on Pom Pom Island. The North Tip ribbon reef is 150m long and the challenge for 2016 is to make it a double row of bottle reefs so that it grows more corals and supports more biodiversity.  The coral growth on the reefs will also help to slow the wave erosion of the beach and improve turtle conservation by ensuring that there is enough sand to lay their eggs.

Donated bottles for recycling into reefs
Donated bottles for recycling into reefs

We were lucky enough in late 2015 to get donations of money to buy cement and a big pile of bottles delivered to the island so we have lots to recycle.  Thank you Coralcare and BGS divers.

The bottle and ribbon reefs built in 2015 are doing very well but we continue to work hard on maintenance of reefs on steep slopes.

recycled bottle reef restorationThe bottle reef restoration start to take shape when the volunteers and gapyear travellers mix wet cement and then position the bottles.  The cement is strong 48h later and the reefs can be moved out into the ocean for a period of soaking to remove toxins.  Eventually we plant corals on the bottle reefs either from fragments grown in the coral nursery or from large branches collected from blast fishing or anchor damage sites.

bottle reef restoration in wet cement
Making bottle reefs from wet cement

Back to Reef restoration for more techniques

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Student projects 2016

Students regularly visit TRACC to collect data for a graduate or masters degree project.  Art or science – if you are passionate about ocean issues then we have intern positions for a wide range of backgrounds. Marine conservation is often about communication and artists, photographers and media students can all become extraordinary advocates for ocean issues.  Each year, we support a few students to become useful interns to do some great science or art.

Photographing rare biodiversity such as this nudibranch (sea slug) requires a commitment to night diving.
Photographing rare biodiversity such as this nudibranch (sea slug) requires a commitment to night diving.

Have you got what it takes?  🙂

We have a range of projects in 2016,  from fish surveys to reef restorationcoral planting techniques, Stabilising rubble, optimising growth of coral species, impact of El Nino, climate change impacts on reefs, Turtles,  Sharks, rays, Humphead wrasse, anemone fish reproduction, biodiversity.  Other projects are possible such as the art installation #biggestsharkinborneo.  What are your interests?

#biggestsharkinborneo hammerhead shark on beach
Biggest shark in Borneo is a hammerhead shark artwork to raise awareness.

Art, media or communication interns please contact us with a formal presentation of ideas.

reef crest survey
reef crest survey

Generally our science intern requirements are practical in nature:

  • Can it be done in 12 -16 weeks.
  • Does it have a hypothesis?
  • Does it follow scientific method?
  • What is the control variable?
  • How discrete is the experimental variable?
  • Random or structured experimental design?
  • Is the project safe?
  • Etc.  Etc. Etc.
  • Has the student really thought about this?

Most student projects start with a 4 week volunteering experience to gain experience and dive qualifications.  When you have a month of doing underwater work under supervision from our staff then you will move to doing your own things safely with minimal supervision.  We like people doing independent projects to be Rescue diver qualified.  (read why here).

We expect a scientifically viable proposal, background research, strong commitment to the project,  regular written reports, Photos and video, several presentations to others at the camp and a copy of the final report as submitted to your university.  We don’t consider a research project a holiday, it may be fun but there is significant work involved if it is going to be worthwhile.  A scientific internship requires investment by TRACC in your future,  There is a lot of competition.  Are you worth our effort?

Mangrove studies
Mangrove studies

To stand out from the crowd:  Don’t simply send us a CV.   Send us a one page (max) project draft based on what you care about, what you can see is happening in the world of marine science or conservation, in our blog or on our facebook & twitter pages.

To learn about the experience – please look at the blog posts from ex students.  See what they did, they may even write about what went wrong.  Contact them on social media and ask for advice.  Be polite and they will help.

Marine science course cambridge a level
Rocky shore exploration

Ten facts to know about becoming a marine biologist

How to get a job in Marine Conservation.

Return of fish to Pom Pom Island

TRACC has been working on Pom Pom Island for 5 years and the change in fish life has been amazing. More Species
More Individuals
Bigger fish – often reproductive sizes

Our big fish surveys document what all our returning divers can see with their own eyes.

Large fish survey on Pom Pom Island 2011-2015
Large fish survey on Pom Pom Island 2011-2015

Who can ask for more?  The numbers of fish of all large species is definitely increasing.

We have resident schools of Barracuda, Big eye trevally, and fusiliers as well as a myriad smaller fish species.  The eagle rays are really special and coral cat sharks can be seen on night dives and our 2016 save sharks project should increase the numbers and species of sharks seen.

Definitely enough fish all around the island to sustain a small shark population so we can protect them before they are all killed.

Baby sharks for sale in the Kudat fish market 2014
Baby sharks for sale in the Kudat fish market 2014


Marine Conservation efforts 2016

TRACC works on various aspects of coral reef ecosystem conservation. For 2016/7, we have ongoing projects on:-

Reef restoration
Our main project, we are growing and replanting coral to repair reefs.
Community conservation of coral reefs.  (Poster pdf)
Step reefs on steep slopes.  (PRESENTATION pdf)

reef conservation and repair
branching porites hard coral growing over a bottle reef

Turtles in the NE Semporna Islands
A day in the life of a turtle volunteer
Turtle walk anyone

Save sharks
Buy a shark and save it.
Are there any sharks left? (With Shark Stewards).
Protected area for sharks in Semporna (with Sabah Shark Protection Association)
Big fish and shark surveys.

Mabul shark and ray fishery (PDF-Poster)

Nurul Yazid biodiversity of pom pom island Sabah
Green turtles are common

Biodiversity project

Protection of endangered species
Humphead wrasse (Cheilinus undulatus)
Giant clams

Climate change
Coral reef projects relating to climate change.

Dive on Coral Reefs NOW, the future is Hot Sour and Empty.  PDF  —–  Presentation — Video

Environmental Education
Art  —   The biggest shark in Borneo
Community art environmental education

Marine science course cambridge a level
Survey diving

Marine protected area roadmap.

These are not exhaustive, contact us if you know how to save the oceans!

Proactive marine conservation with TRACC – Web version – PDF

Conservation projects to 2015  -Old website – not mobile friendly

Suggested student research projects

Visits to TRACC for divers, volunteers & visitors.

Main menu

Marine conservation articles

These are a few of the professional Marine conservation articles, awards and videos that we have seen about TRACC recently:-

Energy globe award and Marine conservation articlesTOP 3 FINALIST (water category) for The Energy Globe Award 2016 – OUR project “ Restoring coral reefs to survive climate change ” as one of the 16 most outstanding projects worldwide.  (Video

UK channel 4 News item Unreported world – The fish bombers (TRACC are the solution not the bombers!!)

Seven seas magazine – TRACC reef conservation  by Dave McGuire of Shark Stewards  

TRACC video By Nelli Hule 2016

TRACC video by Rachel Clark 2014

Issues and solutions for reef conservation at TRACC – Thanks Kit & Jason

Operation Sauvetage Du Recif Corallien (in French) Adventure Magazine Feb 2016

Borneo from Below video  Coral in Crisis from Scubazoo October 2015

National Geographic Ocean views by Dave McGuire of Shark Stewards  August 11, 2015

Clean Malaysia  Saving the ocean – one reef at a time  25-Sept-15

Brandon Taylor:  Coral reefs are being bombed – learn how one NGO rebuilds them.

plus lots of other blogs


More about our amazing biodiversity

Tripadvisor reviews

Other  Reviews,

Google+    Facebook


10 Reasons to become a diving volunteer

Coral bleaching is going to become more common as the seas warm and become more acid.

Scuba diving is not cheap!!!

(Snorkelling with turtles trips are cheaper)

Dive volunteering is about you and helping us save the reef environment.

Dive volunteering is an educational process for skills that you will learn and use, perhaps for the rest of your life.   If you want to save people, volunteer at a school or orphanage,  it will be cheaper and your passion & skills will be used while you volunteer.

Diving volunteers get the best value if the skills below will help your life ambitions.

These are the life skills that you will get from volunteering with us.  Will these be useful to you, if so you are in the right place.

Snorkel & Dive skills & qualifications
20-60+ dives per 4 week stay
Open Water scuba diver,
Advanced open water scuba diver
Marine science & conservation training
“A” level in Marine Science (option)
Internship to increase skills & knowledge.

Job interview & life skills
An interesting useful experience to talk about.
Experience of Proactive Coral reef, Turtle & Shark conservation
Team-building and leadership
The ability to speak knowledgeably about a range of current environmental issues.

Crown of thorns starfish
Crown of thorns starfish eat coral and can become so common that they literally eat the reef to destruction

Student or University projects  ( this is one of the cheapest places in the world to get coral reef research experience) (proposed projects for student research)

Relax and rejuvenate
Chill-out on a beautiful island with a fantastic beach and amazing reefs.
Escape from the rat race and simply have a holiday with a purpose.

A chance to make a difference.
An opportunity to create a small part of a global change. Somewhere you can visit with your children in 20 years and say “I planted these corals & the parents of the sharks and turtles you see were protected by us”.

Career opportunities
Our volunteers can progress by staying at TRACC as interns in several different ways – Dive Master trainees hope to become professional divers, maybe even instructors.   Science Interns are for graduates with a science background who want to build skills towards a career in marine science.

Related/further reading

Becoming a professional conservationist

Ten facts to know about becoming a marine scientist

diving volunteers coral planting sipadan sabah malaysia
Coral bleaching is going to become more common as the seas warm and become more acid.

Turtle conservation & Snorkel costs 2016

Pom Pom Snorkelling and Turtles

Turtle vols              2 weeks                    £600

Media vols             2 weeks                     £600

Plus media materials supplied at cost

Extra weeks                                         £275/week

Turtle volunteers have a focus on protecting turtles, while media volunteers may be painting, sculpting, making videos or writing articles.  Both groups are free to join in with any non diving activities that are happening.


How to Pay

Turtle conservation #1     Turtle conservation #2

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tracc volunteers and gapyear students on pom pom island semporna sabah malaysia

Email us for snorkel costs for odd weeks or other combinations.

Send us an email (or use the booking form) with the dates you would like – (PLEASE BEFORE you book flights – Flight recommendations)

Bookings which start within 2 weeks – please email with URGENT and arrival date in subject line  and also sms to +60 148629617 – we are 8h ahead of London

(Please do not use facebook or social media or this website to communicate.) We don’t have instant internet and we are busy underwater & saving the ocean  – we deal with emails for immediate arrivals within a day or 2 but bookings 3 or more months away may take us till our weekly non diving day – if  you do not get a reply within 3-4 days please resend to remind us)

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