The Sea Women of Melanesia training program equips Indigenous women with the essential skills they need for planning field expeditions, navigating vessels, and conducting accurate reef surveys with high-resolution underwater cameras. Additionally, we offer education in marine reserve science fundamentals, enabling them to discuss the benefits of marine protected areas with coastal communities.

All these skills are consolidated into the Sea Women Level One Training Standard. Our training programs are designed to guide women through the step-by-step development of these skills, ensuring thorough proficiency.

Diving and Snorkelling

We train women to be competent snorkellers, able to free dive to 4m and hold their breath for at least 20 seconds.

Where facilities are available, we also support women to achieve their Open Water Scuba Diver certification.

Marine Life Identification

Sea Women trainees learn to identify the major groups of corals, fishes, and invertebrates found on Melanesian coral reefs.

The resources for this training are freely available on the Educational Resources page of the Coral Sea Foundation website.

Reef Monitoring Surveys

Sea Women trainees learn how to perform our Locally Managed Marine Area Survey Method and have regular practice using this method in real coral reef environments.

This modern survey method incorporates fish and invertebrate counts over a standard 50m x 5m transect, but also includes the use of geotagging digital cameras to collect high-resolution imagery of the coral community which can be rapidly analysed using the ReefCloud.Ai system developed by the Australian Institute of Marine Science.

Small Boat Operations

Trainees learn how to safely operate small vessels for near coastal marine science expeditions, including voyage planning, GPS use, anchoring in reef environments, vessel handling and maneuvering, and understanding lights and markers used for navigation.

Thanks to support from our donors, the Sea Women of Melanesia are now deploying their own small vessels with modern outboard engines that have electric start and trim controls, allowing women to operate the vessels themselves.

Expedition Planning

Trainees learn to use Google Earth and weather forecasting apps to accurately plan marine survey expeditions, make fuel use calculations, and transfer navigation information into handheld GPS units.

In collaboration with Coral Sea Foundation security advisors, we also teach them how to assess and manage security risks while on marine operations.

Community Engagement

Trainees are educated on the core aspects of marine protected area science and the application process for Locally Managed Marine Areas (LMMA).

This empowers them to confidently engage coastal communities, explaining the benefits of creating marine reserves and the role of the Sea Women of Melanesia in supporting LMMA development.


With support from our partners at the Coral Sea Foundation and the Australian Institute of Marine Science, the Sea Women of Melanesia have been at the forefront of developing modern reef survey methods that combine high resolution digital photographs and automated image analysis using the ReefCloud.Ai system.

Over the last 3 years, the Sea Women teams have collected over 16,000 images from 55 sites spread over 4 Provinces of Papua New Guinea. This is the most up-to-date information on the status of the reefs of PNG and the composition of the coral communities in this important part of the Coral Triangle Biodiversity hot-spot, and a testament to the robust and practical nature of our Locally Managed Marine Area Survey Methods.


Pacific Coral Reef Monitoring Framework

For the last 2 years, the Sea Women of Melanesia have collaborated with the Australian Institute of Marine Science, Conservation International, the Samoan Government, and the Secretariat of the Pacific Regional Environment Program on the development of the Pacific Coral Reef Monitoring Framework.

This new framework will blend traditional ecological knowledge with the latest photographic monitoring methods and ReefCloud.Ai image analysis.

It will provide Pacific Island nations with a robust suite of tools to help them manage their coral reef resources while taking into account cultural knowledge of sea country.