Marine Debris Project information

marine debrisThe Indian Ocean Territories Marine Debris project is targeting off-island visitors to volunteer to contribute to the collection and audit of marine debris, the majority washing in from offshore sources. 

Ocean plastic-whats the problem?

Ocean plastic pollution is a growing issue in many parts of the world, with the potential to severely impact on wildlife, human health and tourism economy. Investing in the research and awareness if these issues now, will ensure that we all have beautiful places to visit into the future.

About Cocos Keeling Islands

Cocos Keeling Islands are the perfect eco tourism holiday location. You’ll get to visit uninhabited islands by canoe, watch spectacular birdlife, snorkel or dive amidst coral reefs and diverse reef fish, catch the ferry to Home Island and discover the culture and traditions of the Cocos Malay people and visit the recently voted number 1 beach in Australia at Direction Island. If you like to surf, paddle board or kite surf you can do it all on Cocos Keeling Islands. As soon as you see this tropical paradise, you’ll fall in love and your contribution to this project will leave you feeling like you’ve not only helped the environment but also the welcoming locals that are lucky enough to call these islands home.

Situated 2750 kms northwest of Perth, Western Australia, the Cocos Keeling Islands are a group of coral islands that form two atolls. Only two of the 27 islands are inhabited - the rest are waiting for you to explore them. Find out more at or download an island map here.

About Christmas Island

Unlike the mostly flat terrains of CKI, Christmas Island is the summit of a submarine mountain, rising steeply to a central plateau dominated by stands of rainforest. You can see the wonders of the Christmas Island red crabs, experience the rainforests, remote beaches, amazing bird life and wonderful snorkelling and diving. Note this island is not easy to navigate without a car. The team leaders will have 4WDs to make sure you see as much of the island as possible so you should not need a car while working in the team. If you wish to explore on your own, you will need to hire your own vehicle to get you around outside the schedule of events. See more at

The remote location of the Indian Ocean Terrories, combined with the predominant ocean currents and winds that surround them, results in the islands being inundated by rubbish from all countries bordering the Indian Ocean. Plastic is the main marine debris material found on the beaches, some of which has been there for decades, continually breaking up into smaller pieces and threatening the local marine and bird life. 

 This project brings together the expertise of:

  • Tangaroa Blue Foundation who have been successful in coordinating extremely remote clean-ups throughout Cape York and the Northern Territory for many years. They have worked with numerous partners to ensure that this project not only results in an immediately healthier environment, but provides skills, training and logistical support to the local community, who up until now, have not had the capacity or know-how to address this growing plastic pollution issue.
  •  Keep Australia Beautiful WA and the Department of Water and Environmental Regulation Western Australia who have an ongoing relationship with the Indian Ocean Territories guiding and educating their communities on source reduction and an ongoing plan to manage waste. 
  • Cocos Keeling Island Tourism Association will contribute ferry transport between islands, promotion of event and other tourism experiences.
  • Cocos Keeling Islands Shire Council will provide waste removal and disposal and local promotion and community engagement.
  • Christmas Island Tourism Association will arrange accomodation, help promote the event and coordinate the tourism experiences.
  • Christmas Island Shire Council will provide waste removal and disposal and local promotion and community engagement.

Getting there and away

Virgin is the sole airline to fly from Australia to the Indian Ocean Territories.  The flights to CKI and CI are scheduled as below:

Every Tuesday

VA1909 Depart Perth 1300 Arrive Christmas Island 1550
VA1918 Depart Christmas Island 1635 Arrive Cocos Islands 1740
VA1916 Depart Cocos Islands 1825 Arrive Perth 0020+1

Every Friday will depart on the following timings:

VA1913 Depart Perth 0800 Arrive Cocos Islands 1105
VA1917 Depart Cocos Islands 1150 Arrive Christmas Island 1355
VA1912 Depart Christmas Island 1440 Arrive Perth 1915

Note: Travel in this part of the world is often complicated by weather patterns that can alter flight times and can be unpredictable. If you are travelling from afar, please ensure you leave time between transfers to and from Perth to ensure you can make connections if this occurs. Travel insurance is essential.

To travel to Christmas Island directly from locations other than Australia:

Garuda has a services from Jakarta - Christmas Island - Jakarta every Saturday

GA7000 Depart Jakarta: 13:40 - Arrive Christmas Is: 15:00 
GA7010 Depart Christmas Is: 15:40 - Arrive Jakarta: 17:05

General Information

The average temperature this time of year is around 26-28 C with humidity up to 80 percent.  You will need to be of medium fitness level.  You will be expected to contribute six hours per day on workdays.  The day will be divided into 3 hours of debris pick-up and 3 hours of auditing and data collection.  Schedule is 8am to 11am work.  11am – 1.30pm lunch and rest.  1.30 -4.30 pm work. 

Lunches will be provided on workdays.  If you have special requirements you may need to bring them with you from the mainland as the supermarkets (on CKI), although well stocked, are small and may not provide everything you require.  You will need to cater for your own evening meals. Coffee and granola is supplied for your use at breakfasts.   The supermarkets are more expensive that the mainland due to the costs associated with getting the food there.  You can buy alcoholic beverages from the Cocos Club and hotels and supermarkets on CI 

Make sure you pack a wide brim hat, a light long sleeve shirt, bathers, sturdy footwear, sunscreen, insect repellent and a reusable water bottle.  Bring any medications you require and food to cater for specific dietary requirements. The terrain can be quite rocky in places and solid shoes or reef boots will be helpful.  You will only need light clothing.  Casual dresses, t-shirts and shorts will be sufficient to wear.  Please be aware the Cocos Malay community is Muslim and to be respectful by covering your shoulders when visiting Home Island on CKI.


This is a self funded volunteer experience. Average airfares from Perth are $1200-$1500. Spending money will be required for breakfast and dinners and additional tours. Lunches are provided.