A Day in the Life of a TRACC Volunteer

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I always get asked what our chores as volunteers are from friends back home, so I figure why not take you through a typical day here at TRACC.

 

Please note: The starting time and chores will always vary depending on where you are volunteering and what is needed to be done in that area.

 

Every evening the staff and interns hold a meeting to discuss the next day’s chores. There are various projects all going on at the same time, so they have to be sure to spread out the work to give each project proper attention.

They let us know the night before what time we will begin diving and what exactly we are doing. Then we can plan our mornings accordingly.

Green turtle
One of the first turtles I saw on Pom Pom Island

When I was in LA, I hardly ever woke up early before heading into work.

I promised myself that I would take advantage of this time and really try to get a good morning routine going before I got to Borneo.

So far it’s been working out pretty well!

My day starts by waking up 2 hours before the first scheduled dive for a nice 30 minutes yoga session followed by some swimming. I used to be a strong swimmer and want so badly to get that back. Hopefully I will get there by the time I leave Pom Pom.

Thankfully I found another volunteer that was interested in joining me, so we were able to keep each other motivated.

Sadly she just left on the 31st. Now I’ll have to find a new buddy or keep the routine going on my own.

After that, we would have plenty of time to cook some breakfast and kit up for the first dive.

Crocodile fish
A crocodile fish enjoying his time on one of TRACC’s artificial reefs

The work we do on our dives varies from day to day depending on what needs to be done on the reef.

We could be transplanting soft coral, moving artificial reefs into place, collecting coral biscuits at the nursery, cleaning trash out of the ocean, performing fish surveys…..the list goes on and on.

Each dive will usually last about 50 minutes underwater depending on air levels and how deep we are diving.

Of course I’m usually the one that hits 100 spi first since I seem to suck up air quicker than everyone else, but I’m hoping that will get better over time.

Fingers crossed!

artificial reefs
Our artificial reefs before placement. We use balloons to move them and the bottles are stuck in the ground to anchor the platforms.

After we get back to camp and clean our kits, we have a couple of hours to hang out before getting back into the water for the afternoon dive.

It’s also mandatory to be at the surface for a certain amount of time after diving to release any nitrogen that has built up in the blood stream.

Sometimes I’ll use this break and go for a quick snorkel on the reef. It’s pretty hot during the day, and the water is so cooling. Some days I wish I could be in the water 24/7.

Each day we swap out who will be cooking lunch and dinner for the group and who will be cleaning up. The food is pretty basic since there isn’t a proper fridge and freezer, but we make it work……and quite deliciously too!

Toby fish
A couple of cute Toby fish

Afternoon dives normally start around 2 pm unless there is prep work to be done beforehand.

We will either continue working on whatever project was started earlier that day, or we will start working on another project.

There is always the option to just do a fun dive if everyone is tired of working and needs a break however Sunday, also known as Sunday Funday (I know so original), is normally the day to do fun dives.

TRACC definitely doesn’t want us to be doing work underwater if we are exhausted or burnt out. There are too many things that could potentially happen, so anytime someone needs time off, all they have to do is say something to the staff or interns.

pier sunset
Our amazing sunset view from the jetty

Everyone is responsible for their own kit, so we each breakdown and clean our own gear after every dive.

Once everything has been cleaned and put away, the evenings are left up to us.

We have the option to go on a sunset or night dive, take a swim, do a beach cleanup, or go snorkeling. There are kayaks and a paddleboard to use as well.

I myself enjoy having a cold beer on the jetty with a couple of the other volunteers after a long day. That’s where we get the best view of the sunset. And to top it off, there are no flies or mosquitoes out there to bother us!

We’ll usually end up hanging out there talking and listening to music until dinner is served unless of course we are the ones scheduled to cook.

group of TRACC volunteers
Our group just before a few volunteers left Pom Pom Island

The nights can go a couple of different ways here at TRACC depending on what the schedule is for the next day. We’ll either stay up playing games and chatting or watch a movie.

If I am feeling like having a chill night, I’ll go back to my tent and work on my computer for a bit before turning in.

It really just depends on how I am feeling at the end of the day.

So there you have it. Our days are pretty full and go by quickly. I can’t believe I’ve already been here for 2 weeks!!! Before I know it, I’ll be packing up to head out for the next project. I’m starting to get a little sad thinking about it.

 

If you would like to volunteer with TRACC and help rebuild the coral reef, you can find more info on their website.

 

 

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