community volunteer costs 2015

TOB Snorkelling and community £
TOB-C10 Teaching 2 weeks 400
TOB-C11 Trailblazers 2 weeks 400
TOB-C12 Multimedia 2 weeks 400
Extra weeks C10, C11. C12 175
TOB-C15 Birdwatching 2 weeks 500
Extra weeks C 15 220
Pom Pom Snorkelling and Turtles £
Ppturt-2 2 weeks 600
Ppmmedia 2 weeks Plus materials supplied at cost 600
Extra weeks 275
TRACC turtle volunteer snorkelling with green turtle

turtle volunteer snorkelling with green turtle

Coconut cove camp, Tip of Borneo

Snorkelling and community projects (Jan to End October)
English for the future,
Forest trailblazer
Multimedia and artist volunteers

Pom Pom Island
Turtle conservation (snorkelling) (May to Sept)

—-  Assistance with fund raising –> click here <–

Become a community volunteer and we will see you soon  :-)



Sea snakes at the lighthouse Tip of Borneo

searching under the rocks

searching under the rocks

Sea snakes (banded sea snake) are common at the lighthouse at the Tip of Borneo.  They come ashore to rest in the shade of the rocks. Apparently they also drink the dew that drips in the rock crevices.  The sea snakes are not dangerous because they are not agressive, HOWEVER they are potentially deadly so touching them is definitely not recommended.  The females are typically larger and have large numbers of males coiled into the same crack in the rock.   We are fortunate to be able to see them occasionally in the water when they are extremely graceful.  They search amongst the coral for their prefered prey of morays and other eel like fish.  The seasnakes frequently have large clusters of parasitic ticks.

sea snakes at tip of borneo 21-6-14 (64) (640x480) sea snakes at tip of borneo 21-6-14 (94) (640x480) sea snakes at tip of borneo 21-6-14 (90) (640x387) sea snakes at tip of borneo 21-6-14 (87) (640x420)






Seasnake photos on Facebook — Seasnake video  —




Shark survey analysis

shark market survey analysis

Which species is that?

Steve has been cocooned in his tent for the last few weeks working on the analysis for the WWF / TRAFFIC shark survey.  For several months in 2014, we collected data on all the sharks and rays we saw at the fish markets in Sabah.  The travel all over Sabah to fish markets was the easy part, we counted and measured sharks and rays, made notes and took photos and now Steve is trying to make sense of it all.  He comes out for meals and food plus tea on a regular basis but has not been diving or doing anything fun.   We snuck into his tent office the other day to see what is going on.

steve shark survey analysis (1) (640x451)What did we find –  Books on sharks everywhere plus 2 computers and a very large monitor all with pictures of sharks.  Steve explained – The sharks we surveyed at the market generally have no fins and even with fins they all look very similar.  He is clearly tearing out his hair trying to make sense of all the confusion. It was obvious to anyone that there were many many endanged species being landed, I mean even us students can recognise a hammerhead or a white tip.

More about the Shark & Ray Market survey ( dead and depressing)  –  Cuttlefish & Shark surveys – (In water with living creatures)  – Offshore reef survey (also in water but hopefully a long way from fishing)



Tofu the rescued turtle hatchlings

Green Turtle hatchling

Green Turtle hatchling

Last week while doing a nest inventory in the turtle hatchery we found little Tofu, a critically endangered Hawksbill turtle that had been underground in her nest far too long. Her brothers and sister turtle hatchlings emerged about 50 days before we found her so she had been in her nest, a hole in the ground for all that time with no food or water. She was severely dehydrated and starving, weighing only about 10.9g with a carapace length of 3.35cm.

Five days later and she’s doing well! She’s eating and swimming around from time to time but she still has a long way to go.


UPDATE – after several months of training how to catch and eat crabs and other marine life living in Sagassum, a fit and healthy TOFU was released into the deep blue sea so she can make her own way in the world.

Yes we understand that turtle hatchlings cannot be sexed at this age so tofu could be male.

hatchling swimming (4) (400x136)hawksbill hatchling in sargassum

RACE coral surveys and possible new TRACC site?

Being a Conservation center TRACC tries to be right at the heart of everything affecting the marine environment that goes on in the Sabah region. So when we we’re asked about an initial environmental impact assessment for an unknown area of reef we jumped at the chance! Our lucky divers got to experience more dive sites in one week than I have in the last 6 months.

Many of the sites had probably never been dove before. In under two weeks we racked up over 20 new dive sites. Why did we dive? Basically we undertook RACE (rapid assessment of coral ecosystems) surveys. They are exactly what they say on the tin. In a 30 minutes dive at a set depth we dive along the area , taking note of things like coral diversity, fish diversity, size and abundance, water turbidity and general health of the ecosystem. With this data we have an overall idea of the ecosystem health for the region and overtime we can see if coastal development such as aquaculture is having an effect. Also diving is rather fun, so its win win!

Whilst undertaking these RACE surveys around the Sabah region we also came across a possible new site for the TRACC project. Large expanses of forest reserves (thus no people, no settlement and no oil palm run off) with healthy reef ecosystems around the Pulau Bait area. A truly beautiful and unique area. The reefs there also aren’t as degraded as the reefs around Pom pom island. In fact you can see some very distinctive bomb craters, a chance for TRACC to set up a long term project upon the recovery of coral after a bomb crater. No surprise that our results show that there is a lack of fish due to over fishing, but with our presence I’m sure, like on Pom pom, that fish numbers would sky rocket!

Turtle volunteers at the Tip of Borneo

Green turtle tracks at the lighthouse tip of Borneo, sabah malaysia

Turtle tracks at the lighthouse, Tip of Borneo

Green turtle tracks at the Lighthouse sand bar at the Tip of Borneo, Kudat Sabah.

Green turtle tracks at the Lighthouse sand bar at the Tip of Borneo, Kudat Sabah.

TRACC volunteers have been searching for turtles at the Tip of Borneo, near Kudat since May 2014.  The numbers have clearly fallen a lot.  We know from local villagers and a previous volunteer project that there were regular nestings only a few years ago.  The Kudat Turtle Conservation Society was formed to help protect the local turtles and KTCS have been doing a great job of patroling the beaches and clearing away the trash. Unfortunately even with all this effort there have been very few nestings on any mainland beaches. TRACC volunteers have spent many hours focussed on turtle searches on offshore islands, reefs and on the seagrass beds. (Thanks to all volunteers who have shown us just how rare turtles are in this part of Borneo.)

The number of Green and Hawksbill turtles is unfortunately very low.  There are a few juvenile green on the seagrass beds to the East of the Kudat Peninsula and we have seen a very occasional hawksbill on the reefs to the West.  We have seen mating green turtles on an offshore reef and there are clearly females around which are trying to nest on the very small amount of sand at the lighthouse.  The tracks come out of the water. cross the sand – reach the water – turn around – cross the sand – reach the water and repeat many times.  The sand patch is really too small for nesting.  The beautiful white sand beaches on the mainland are clearly not as attractive as a small speck of beach which has no barking dogs to disturb the peace.

TRACC turtle volunteer snorkelling with green turtle

turtle volunteer snorkelling with green turtle

Turtle poaching is clearly a big issue, there have been newspaper reports of many slaughtered adult turtles on nearby islands and the fishermen say the Vietnamese boats will buy any turtle for good money. Turtles are protected in Malaysia and yet there seems to be little we can do to stop the continued decline in this part of Borneo.

Turtle conservation in Kudat is clearly very important but it is really frustrating since there are only a few turtles.  Fortunately we have another project on Pom Pom island which has lots of nesting turtles.  For more information on how you can become a turtle volunteer –> click here <–

Online Marine science course

The Cambridge Marine Science A level course which we teach as a residential course is also being taught as a online marine science course using the Internet – a distance learning package with examinations in May 2016 or 2017. This requires 12 -18 months of weekly lessons studied at home (about 8-10h each week) plus a trip of 2 weeks (last week March & 1st week April 2015 or 2016) to the TRACC Camp at the Tip of Borneo for practical skills and an optional trip for the examinations. Learning to dive can be arranged in the week of March before the practical trip.

We seriously recommend that any potential marine scientists also stay for at least 2 weeks after the exams to learn underwater survey skills. Learning to dive and underwater skills are not required for the A level but are invaluable should you wish to pursue a career in marine science. All TRACC students registered for this couse must learn to dive since many practicals are conducted underwater. More details here.

Birdwatching at the Tip of Borneo

Bird watching or orithologist volunteers wanted

Black crowned Night Heron

Black crowned Night Heron

Birds are an important part of the natural heritage and ecology of the Tun Mustapha park and yet very little is known about the bird diversity or the migration routes. The tip of Borneo is the first stop for birds flying down from China and Korea across the South China sea or from Palawan in the Philippines. There are several large mangroves and these are host to an increase in bird populations in autumn and spring as the flocks assemble before they fly onwards. We have resident big raptors, Brahminy kites, sea eagles and ospreys brahminy kitebut little is known about the smaller birds.

We are looking for non diving – Birdwatching with optional snorkelling volunteers to help with our understanding of the bird populations and diversity.

Booking a trip please email with dates starting on a Monday

Birdwatching Volunteers are welcome to participate in all the snorkelling, english teaching, beach or forest activities that go on from our Tip of Borneo camp.  We expect Birdwatchers to set their own schedule and we will attempt to find transport to suit each daily trip.

 TRACC Conservation expedition locations 2014 & 2015

Volunteer projects 2015  —-  Diving at the Tip of Borneo —–—–  Volunteer reviews ——- Facebook

we welcome Ornithologists or bird watchers from any country (ornitoloogornitólogoornithologueornitologornitólogo –  ornitologoornitólogo鳥類学者 – ) ( observador de aveschi osserva gli uccellifugletittereVogelbeobachter –  ornitófilovogelaar )



Multimedia & artist volunteers 2015

Multimedia volunteer positions are available to anyone with experience or skills in art, photography, video, writing, communications or marketing. Typical multimedia interns pay a discounted rate for volunteering on any of our projects. They produce video for youtube, magazine articles or text for blogs about their experiences and this media output becomes an important part of their portfolio. Painters, sculptors or other creative people are also welcome.

We have great scenery, interesting people and fantastic wildlife, regardless of your artistic skill we have lots of things to inspire you. 

The multimedia volunteer proposes a multimedia output/ creation and we will try to assist with the logistics or materials. Large creations – sculpture etc needs to use appropriate materials. We especially want media that helps raise awareness of the issues facing marine biodiversity and ecosystems, especially if it is targeted to local communities. However, everything from an underwater art installation to a powerpoint presentation will be considered. We have a wide range of projects, environments and interesting people.  We want you to express yourself and create something artistic.

Contact us to discuss how your media skills could raise awareness about TRACC and the issues we care about.
Booking a trip please email with dates starting on a Monday

Multimedia Volunteers are welcome to participate in all the snorkelling, birdwatching, English teaching, beach or forest activities that go on from our Tip of Borneo camp.

 TRACC Conservation expedition locations 2014 & 2015

Volunteer projects 2015  —-  Diving at the Tip of Borneo —–  Volunteer reviews ——- Facebook

English teaching volunteers

English for our future

english teaching in rural borneo

Teaching village children is its own reward

The schools in rural Sabah do not manage to teach good English and yet there is a huge and growing demand for young people who speak English to work in many sectors of the tourism industry. The school teachers often do not have the capability or training to teach more than the basics. We increase the vocabulary, improve the speaking confidence and help the children with reading and writing.

We have a curriculum, schemes of work and books. The children come to classes in halls in the various villages and they need to practice and learn speaking, reading, writing. Our volunteers who do not speak Malay (national languge) or Rungus ( local language) can manage with the help of our staff who speak both languages and by our easy to follow teaching aids and programme which does not require the teacher to speak in the childrens language.

Volunteers who help with the English project can participate in all the snorkelling, birdwatching, beach or forest activities that go on from our Tip of Borneo camp.  The teaching is usually done weekdays from 4pm to 7 pm and again for a few hours on Saturdays and Sundays.

English teaching volunteers
Booking a trip please email with dates starting on a Monday

 TRACC Conservation expedition locations 2014 & 2015 –  teaching village children

Volunteer projects 2015  —-  Diving at the Tip of Borneo —–  Volunteer reviews —- Facebook

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