Work Experience: Sustainable Development and Marine Research on Silba Island

14+ days
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Based on a tiny, car-free island of Silba in Croatia, the marine work placement provides participants with the opportunity to help develop a sustainable marine research center that will help the island adapt to human pressures. This internship will consist of fieldwork that will teach career-building skills in sustainable development, marine research, and environmental management.

Internships in Silba run for 2-8 weeks and can be combined with work experience opportunities at our Krka site in Croatia, or at the Angofa Wildlife Centre in Romania.

Who is this for?

This work placement is designed for people interested in gaining field experience in conservation and sustainable business while generating a positive impact on a rural economy. It is a perfect opportunity for anyone looking to break into this field or explore a career switch.

There are no prerequisites for participation although participants should be 18 by the time of travel.


All volunteers will be based at the base camp on Silba Island, located near the Adriatic Sea and our dive site. You will provided with bunk-style bedding, with proper social distancing and adequate ventilation, with showers available inside the center.

How to Book

Please indicate the number of weeks, start date, and any additional courses in the form above. You must pay the flat deposit fee of €100 to hold your place. We will contact you with a full invoice once we receive your deposit confirmation. Discounts will be applied to bookings longer than two weeks. 

Important: Covid-19 Statement

We are constantly analyzing the Covid-19 situation on the ground in Croatia with the help of our local partners. We anticipate that Croatia will be open to placements from European countries by 1 August 2020, but we strongly encourage our participants not to purchase any flights prior to confirmation that they will be able to arrive in Croatia without being required to quarantine for 14 days.

If quarantine is still required for visitors to Croatia on your start date, we will provide a full refund to participants affected or change your start date free of charge. Please keep track of any changes to quarantine measures approaching your start date and contact us if you have any questions or concerns.

The Silba Marine Centre is located 15 minutes outside of town on a large piece of rural land. Participants will be accommodated in bunks at an appropriate social distance and will be provided with facilities for proper hygiene, including running water at the Centre. The Centre will be cleaned and ventilated several times per week to avoid contagion risk and most group activities will be performed outdoors.

Silba Island Activities:

The weekly activities for this internship will consist of fieldwork that ranges from marine research to sustainable development and construction to help Silba maintain its biodiversity as the island’s population grows. By helping manage this marine research center, volunteers will learn career-building skills such as underwater research, science communication & public speaking, and sustainable business practices.

The following are some of the activities that will be offered to volunteers on Silba Island. Note: not all of these activities will be available each week and will vary based on each participants’ booked weeks.

Research & Outreach

  1. Biodiversity monitoring & mapping – This research will include trips to various bays around the island to conduct underwater visual census (UVC) surveys by diving or snorkeling to view sea urchins, sea cucumber, seagrass meadows, and mollusks. There will also be underwater and beach clean-ups for marine litter monitoring.
  2. Underwater educational trail – This activity involves planning, mapping, and building an underwater trail so visitors can explore local biodiversity hotspots and understand the connections between humans and marine life.
  3. Planting artificial reeds & seagrass – This activity creates additional fish and wildlife habitats around Silba Island, as well as developing best-practices for seagrass planting to be used in larger projects across the Adriatic Sea.
  4. Ex Situ Experiments – These experiments take place in a small outdoor laboratory that enables volunteers to test hypotheses about ecological behaviors, climate change, symbiosis, and species interactions. Volunteers may also produce reports or presentations on these findings.

Sustainable Development

  1. Sustainable Resource Use – Silba has only a few hundred year-round inhabitants but receives thousands of tourists each summer. This activity involves developing projects to solve problems in freshwater availability, waste management, and local food production. Interns staying on Silba for 4+ weeks may have the opportunity to test and implement their projects to help the Marine Centre minimize its environmental impact.
  2. Community conservation workshops – Volunteers will work to organize an educational event in a local village to learn about local perspectives on conservation challenges. These workshops are an opportunity to educate local communities about the importance of marine and terrestrial biodiversity through interactive presentations or even content produced by interns.


  1. Drywall Building – The Croatian tradition of drywall building is recognized by UNESCO as an intangible cultural heritage. Volunteers will learn about this important activity and will help build traditional drywall structures on Silba to support sustainable community organizations on the island.
  2. Developing Tourism for the Marine Centre – The marine centre house is based on a beautiful piece of wooded land with numerous opportunities for low-impact tourism that could bring additional income for research projects. Interns may be asked to help clear and revitalize parts of this land to build a campsite for the centre. This project may also involve planting and building structures on the land around the centre to promote improved sustainability and biodiversity around the area.



Dates and Prices

How to Book: Please indicate the number of weeks, start date, and any additional courses in the form above. You must pay the flat deposit fee of €100 to hold your place. We will contact you with a full invoice once we receive your deposit confirmation. Discounts will be applied to bookings longer than two weeks. 

The expeditions start at Zadar airport at 12 noon on a Saturday and finish at the same point at 12 noon on the final Saturday.  Transfers from the airport to Silba Island are included but the return journey is not included in the price since many people will want to continue traveling and may want to take a ferry directly from Silba Island to their next destination.

If you are traveling onto the Puljane Research Center, you will be taken back to Zadar on your final Saturday in time for the transfer to the Krka Valley.

You are responsible for booking your own flights to Zadar. There are low-cost airline flights to Zadar that coincide with the start times with Easyjet, Eurowings, Croatia Airlines, and Lufthansa all working for the Saturday meeting time, and others such as Ryanair can be organized to arrive on Friday and you can overnight near the airport before the transfer to Silba.

Before booking your flights please check that the quarantine requirements for Croatia for your nationality and departure country have been lifted by completing the questionnaire at For most nationalities, it appears there will be no entry restrictions starting in August but please check by completing the questionnaire in case there are changes.

The Silba Island Research Center is open from Saturday 8 August 2020  to Saturday 31 October 2020.  The Centre will re-open on Saturday 3 April 2021 and will close again on Saturday 5 June 2021 in time to prepare for the extensive Opwall marine research program.  The Center re-opens in late summer on Saturday 21 August 2021 until Saturday 30 October 2021.


The prices below include transfer from Zadar airport to Silba Island, all food and accommodation for the stay, diving and snorkeling both from shore and on the research boat for those that are dive qualified and participation in all the activities listed.

Note: the price listed in the booking form is not necessarily the weekly price of your trip. You will be directed to pay a flat deposit fee (€100) via our website and will later receive an invoice to your email that corresponds to the pricing below. Discounts on the quoted weekly rate will apply for longer stays, as seen below.
Length in weeks Cost per week in € Total cost in €
2 590 1180
3 560 1680
4 530 2120
5 500 2500
6 470 2820
7 440 3080
8 410 3280



What happens if there is a quarantine in effect by the time of my trip?
Your trip will be canceled and you will be given a full refund or offered a later date.  Note: do not book your flights until the information provided by completing the questionnaire at indicates there will be no quarantine requirements for your nationality and departure country.

Can I bring a friend? Is there a referral program?
Yes, we encourage our volunteers to book in groups! For every friend you refer who pays their deposit, you and your friend receive a discount of €5 off the final price. If you are referring a friend, please ensure you and your friend(s) email us with the name of the person you are referring/who referred you at so we can register the discount when we send your final invoice.

What is involved at each of the sites?
See the activities in the Itinerary tab above. Please note that while all of these activities will be completed over the opening periods for the center, not all of them happen each week.

Do I need to have any previous experience to participate in the internship?
No, we are looking for people who are enthusiastic and able to mix socially with people from a wide range of backgrounds and with differing experiences.

What if I am not dive certified but want to work at the Croatia marine site?
You don’t have to be dive qualified to work at our marine site. The Silba Centre dive team can train you to dive as part of your stay at the center.  If you don’t want to dive at all, you can participate in many of the activities as a snorkeler. If you would like to become dive certified or raise your qualification while on Silba, please check the box for the dive add-ons you want on the booking form.

Can I stay in the country after my internship is over?
Yes, but please check any entry requirements for your nationality to Croatia which may restrict the total number of days you can spend in-country. Many students will use the opportunity of being in the Adriatic to do a bit of traveling afterward before flying home.

Can I switch between sites? What about between Romania and Croatia?
In Croatia, you can swap between the Krka Valley and Silba island sites as long as you spend a minimum of two (2) weeks at each site.  The transfers are organized for you as part of the bookings and will be included in your final invoice. Moving between countries such as Croatia to Transylvania to do these placements is a lot more difficult due to current travel restrictions and should be done as separate bookings with a few days traveling in between.

How long are the internships? What is the difference between staying for two weeks and staying for 8 weeks?

You can choose, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7 or 8 weeks and the price per week reduces the longer you stay at the center.  If you change centers then you start again on the higher-priced week. Bookings for each of the Croatia centers are treated separately because the costs of getting you on-site and getting your trained are higher at the beginning of your stays.

What is the difference between Friends of Wallacea and Operation Wallacea?

Operation Wallacea has been established for 25 years and is designed to fund academics to complete annual biodiversity surveys in a range of sites around the world. Funding comes from tuition fees paid by students who have an immersive experience in biodiversity research both at terrestrial and marine sites.

Opwall students provide research assistance to the 200+ academics and 90 PhD students that have been funded by the program and help with producing high-quality data that leads to publications in peer-reviewed journals (more than 500 papers in just the last few years).

Friends of Wallacea (FOW) was set up to work with the Opwall local partners to attract visitors outside the Opwall season and provide them with some additional year-round income to support conservation efforts.  By joining the FOW internship program, you will be helping the sites become established as viable tourism and biodiversity conservation centers outside the Opwall season.  The experience will not be the same as Opwall; there will be some elements of wildlife monitoring although not as extensive as on the Opwall programs, but you will also be getting experience in developing the opportunities for visitors and wildlife sightings.


Book the tour

Do you know how to dive? (not required to participate!)



Add Dive Certification?

Snorkel Only (0.00)

Learn to Dive (232.50)

Advanced Open Water (115.00)

Rescue Diver (115.00)

 Weeks or Number of Tickets  × 590.00
Total = 1,180.00
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