Ms. Fanny Couture, PhD Candidate

Current Occupation/activities

PhD candidate at the Institute for the Oceans and Fisheries of the University of British Columbia (Canada). I am now working on prey-predator population dynamics, specifically focusing on the southern resident killer whale population.

How has your training with us assisted you on your academic/career development?

I have learnt everything about being a Conservation Diver during two internships at the New Heaven Reef Restoration Program in Koh Tao in 2012 and 2013. My first internship was extraordinary and exceeded all my expectations. Most of the restoration efforts on the reef involved extensive fieldwork on Scuba, which allowed me to develop strong knowledge on diverse restoration techniques (nurseries, reef balls, biorocks, reef restoration structures (we built an entire whale shark!)). Being a Conservation Diver is a real ‘hands-on’ experience, and I was also lucky enough to participate in numerous restoration workshops and marine ecology talks for local communities. Finally, daily classes and regular meetings with researchers truly allowed me to understand the ecosystem surrounding me, as well as the environmental and human hazards faced by coral reefs worldwide. I came back to Koh Tao as part of my Master’s program at James Cook University (Australia), as I developed my own research project on understanding the impacts of newly implemented marine protected areas on the reef fish communities around Koh Tao. Working with Conservation Diver at this time gave me an invaluable opportunity to further deepen my knowledge in coral reef ecology and conservation diving.

After my master’s, I became a coral biologist working for one of the biggest coral reef restoration project in the world (Landaa Giraavaru, Maldives). I can truly say that I would not have been able to fulfill the mission of this project successfully without all the knowledge and diving skills I acquired through the Conservation Diver Training.

What is your advice to those considering taking our courses? Stay as long as possible! I stayed for weeks both times, and it was really the best thing to do! One week is not the repetition of the other, it is just one step forward towards learning what conservation really is. I was constantly learning new skills and techniques. My experience with the Conservation Diver community is unforgettable, and I have made friends with whom I am still in contact today (8 years later!).


Ms. Yanitza ‘Yana’ Grantcharska

Current Occupation/activities

Co-Founder and Executive Director of Save The Plastic

How has your training with us assisted you on your academic/career development?

My first Conservation Diver experience was back in 2013. At that time, I was an urban planner, an ocean lover and a diver, but I knew very little about marine life and its wonders. After only two visits and 3 months spent at the program, I decide to quite my position as urban planner and started a career change towards marine conservation. The road was/is not easy, bumps, jumps and a lot of hard work on the agenda but not a single day I question that decision.

New Heaven Reef Conservation Program and Conservation Diver team is a family of outstanding scientists and passionate ocean nerds. They thought me how to monitor a fragile ecosystem, how to look at the small stuff, how to love it and protect it. They gave me the keys and tools to develop my skills to understand marine ecosystems, and the support to build and perform my own research projects.

Today, I am the Co-Founder of a Belgian based non-profit organization, called Save The Plastic. Our mission is to inform, inspire and pass down our love for the ocean to future generations. We organize our work around 3 main pillars; Education, Research and Local government support. And I am a Conservation Diver Specialty Trainer as well, since August 2019. I feel extremely honored and privileged to be part of this family.

In my opinion following our passion is the best way to live this life. If you are considering visiting the program be prepared to be immerse very quickly in the realm of knowledge and marine science. From morning to evening you will be guided by brilliant, creative and generous instructors.

If you want to challenge yourself, to learn a lot, to meet amazing people, to do bad ass work underwater this experience is for you. Whether you plan to visit the program for one week or two months, you will be grateful you had the opportunity to do so.

What is your advice to those considering taking our courses?

As conservation diving is very different from recreational diving, I have a more pragmatic advice. Make sure you are fully comfortable underwater and mastering all safety diving rules prior arrival. If you arrive trained, your time underwater will be more fun and you will learn faster all the new skills of a Conservation Diver.


Mr. Bob Sevenster, MA

Current Occupation/activities

In 2015 I started the Coral-AID initiative, aiming to use technology for the benefit of coral reefs and sharing fundamental knowledge with anyone interested in achieving the same goal. In that same year I managed to design and build the first Coral-AID mineral accretion device. It work perfectly. For three months. This first success and set back led me on a path to further developing mineral accretion technology. In the following 5 years I managed to perfect the design and helped to electrify many different projects all over the world.  

How has your training with us assisted you on your academic/career development?

I decided to participate in marine conservation training without too much prior knowledge or experience. I liked diving and I was keen to learn some more of all you encounter when doing so. I never suspected it would inspire me to do what I do today. Apart from the many things you learn to recognize and understand, it was this inspiration that made me realize what I wanted to do and what I wanted to contribute to the cause of saving and supporting this fragile reef environment. 

What is your advice to those considering taking our courses?

Haha, I can only say I am really glad I decided to do it. I learned a lot, met some great people I still see today and it got me started doing something pretty rewarding. 


Leon Haines

Current Occupation/activities

In October 2019 I partnered up with Blue Marlin Dive and Conservation Diver to launch comprehensive marine conservation and reef restoration courses on Gili Air, Indonesia. I currently work as the Conservation Director and CD instructor for Blue Marlin Dive Gili Air. In the Gili’s we teach 1, 2 and 3-week training programs where certified divers from any background can participate and learn how they can give back to the environment they care about so much. During the first week of the program we focus on the science of monitoring and understanding threats and changes in the ecosystem over area and time. The second week is Artificial Reef Week, where participants take their new understanding of the reef and apply it to restoration by designing, building, deploying and monitoring their very own artificial reef and coral nursery. For people who just cant get enough, we have a third week program where participants train to gain the prestigious advanced EMP certification. Besides running these courses, I work with local stakeholders, including government and NGO’s to ensure we can put the best conservation in place for the reefs in our area. Currently we are working on an exciting project with partners from all over the globe to realise a mineral accretion device on our island. 

How has your training with us assisted you on your academic/career development?

My training with Conservation Diver was the kickstart to my career in marine conservation and I wouldn’t have been where I am today without it. Through my CD training and internship I was able to specialise in reef restoration and conservation during and after I finished my university degree. CD certifications diversify your resume and in combination with my degree and scuba certifications it opened many jobs, from manta ray guiding in the Maldives to running a conservation program in the heart of the Coral Triangle.

What is your advice to those considering taking our courses?

Opportunities in world of conservation and marine science are endless, if you are proactive, take chances and seize opportunities. Being able to gain field experience and in-depth training through Conservation Diver is one of those opportunities and an experiences you will never forget. What is special about CD is that it has grown out to become a network of like minded people trying to make a difference around the world. You can be part of this movement and who knows, maybe you’ll run your own conservation program on a tropical island someday.


Margaux Hein, PhD

Current Occupation/activities:

I recently completed a PhD at James Cook University, Australia, focusing on characterizing socio-ecological aspects of coral restoration effectiveness. I have opened a consultancy firm in Monaco named MER Research and Consulting which aims to address issues related to Marine Ecosystem restoration globally. I am currently contracted as a consultant for the UN Environment Programme to draw global best-practices for the use of coral restoration for the maintenance of ecosystem services.

How has your training with us assisted you on your academic/career development?

I first visited the Conservation Diver program for a 3 month-long internship in Koh Tao Thailand in 2012. I had a Bachelor in Environmental Sciences and wanted to get a feel for marine conservation before starting a Masters in Marine Biology. Not only did the program taught me skills such as fish and coral ID that were invaluable, but it also triggered a passion for corals, and coral restoration specifically. I left knowing I had to come back, and used the program as my study site for both my Masters and PhD research projects.

I can easily say that my training at Conservation Diver is where I found my calling for coral restoration which has motivated my career since then.

What is your advice to those considering taking our courses?

Have fun and take it all in. Conservation Diver is an excellent program, whether you’re just looking for a fun holiday with a purpose, or for some specific training in scientific diving and marine conservation. I have witnessed the program grow over the years- the team is super friendly on top of being extremely knowledgeable, passionate and up to date with the latest advances in the field of coral restoration. A 3-day course will leave you wanting more, so try and plan to stay for as long as you can- it never gets redundant, and the longer you stay, the more in-depth skills you’ll learn!