Diving In - MI International Intern Puts Education to Work in the Philippines
Tuesday, January 17, 2017

Christa Sandall may hail from the land-locked province of Alberta, but salt water runs through her veins. After graduating from Memorial University of Newfoundland with a Bachelor of Science in Marine Biology last June, she now finds herself living and working in the island country of the Philippines.

Ms. Sandall is on an internship through the Fisheries and Marine Institute’s (MI) MI International Office (MII) and is working with the Community Extension Office at John B. Lacson Foundation Maritime University located in Iloilo City, Philippines.

“As the Marine Environment Management Assistant, I am involved in everything from data entry, to marine environment assessments to finalizing propositions and scuba diving,” she said. “A friend of mine had recently completed an MI International internship and after speaking with her, I knew I had to get involved.”

Diving In

As a certified Advanced Open Water SCUBA diver, Ms. Sandall has assisted in multiple marine surveys where the objective is to identify improvements of coral growth and fish abundance within recently established marine protected areas.

She has also been focused on the proposition of a coral gardening project within the Igang Bay Marine Sanctuary – a project that further contributes to reef restoration, which benefits fish productivity and the functionality of the local marine ecosystem.

Much of her work is completed in the marine protected area nearby where she lives and Ms. Sandall believes that the reef restoration projects are promoting the importance of marine education for locals.

“I have really enjoyed the amount of field work associated with the position,” said Ms. Sandall. “It has allowed me to see the environmental improvements that are influenced by my own efforts and that of my host organization.”

Related Position

Of the many things that Ms. Sandall enjoys most about her internship, it’s the fact that it is directly related to her educational background.

“I am gaining valuable office and field experience that I will be able to apply to a future career,” she said. “The experience has solidified my desire to work with the marine environment and also motivated me to pursue marine conservation as a potential career path,” she said.

However, what she has enjoyed most is the opportunity to work underwater.

“I have been able to use my diving skills for a greater purpose and I feel like it has allowed me to give back to the marine environment that I have always appreciated so much,” she said. “It’s very rewarding to be part of the real world, where you can apply your knowledge and skills to the situation at hand.”

Next Steps

Ms. Sandall will finish her internship this March and is already looking forward to her next adventure.

“I will be going on a live-aboard dive trip to Tubbataha Reef in the Philippines,” she said. “I’m really excited to be able to dive within such a pristine protected area.”

At the heart of the coral triangle, the Tubbataha Reef is a marine protected area that became the country’s first ever national marine park in 1988 and a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1993.

After some more travelling within Asia, Ms. Sandall hopes to return to Newfoundland and Labrador to begin a master’s degree at the Marine Institute in the fall.

Ms. Sandall’s internship is part of the International Youth Internship Program (IYIP), funded by Global Affairs Canada. More information can be found at, as well as the “Thousands of Nautical Miles from Home” Intern WordPress blog. You can also follow Ms. Sandall’s journey through her blog.