The stakeholders involved in dive voluntourism (in an “and/or” fashion, and in no particular order of priority) are:
- the marine biologist at the frontline of the research or conservation project. There are a few scientists with the talent to multi-task serious research objectives, manage the constant headache of grant funding as well as make it their business to educate the wider public about what they do. DiVo’s website highlights some of the work they do.
- the organisation which is funding or managing the project. This can be a university, research institute, marine park authority or a non-profit organisation such as Reef Check Australia, Reef Life Survey, Coral Cays and Earthwatch.
- the local community watch group, examples in Australia being the underwater research groups (URGs) in New South Wales, volunteers participating in the community-based monitoring protocols developed by Parks Victoria and Reef Watch, a community environmental monitoring program managed by the Conservation Council of South Australia. There are too many to list down exhaustively here.
- the commercial tourism venture. This can be a dive liveaboard operator or tourism authority. John Rumney, founder of Eye to Eye Marine Encounters, pioneered a model of dive tourist-funded marine research in Australia where dive tourists would marine biologists on a liveaboard expedition to see close up how the scientists call, sample or tag and then release the marine creature. In the Maldives, some resorts have sponsored manta ray and whaleshark researchers, providing accommodation and boats in return for whaleshark and manta spotting outings organised for their guests.
All these stakeholders play a role in steering the efforts of volunteers participating in recreational scuba diving towards marine research and conservation in Australia.