Whale Shark & Conservation Research

Global Nomadic  »  Whale Shark & Conservation Research

Whale Shark & Conservation Research

from £1,284
Duration: from 6 weeks to 12 weeks
Countries: Mozambique
Snorkelling with the world’s largest fish – the whale sharks, whilst learning about various species and megafauna, contributing to their conservation.
Summary

Whale Shark & Conservation Research

Introduction

Mozambique is emerging as one of Africa’s rising stars after a long civil war which impeded its development. With a dynamic atmosphere, abundant markets and gorgeous coastline, Mozambique has witnessed economic growth since the end of the Civil War. However, poverty is still vastly prevalent and health and social factors such as low literacy rates, HIV/AIDS, bad sanitation and lack of access to clean water reflect in high poverty rates and low life expectancy. Mozambique, though one of the poorest and most underdeveloped countries in the world, boasts rich natural resources and sights. The gorgeous palm-fringed beaches offer unique dive sites and varied marine life exploration opportunities including spotting dolphins, whale sharks, turtles and humpback whales. Its ocean and natural resources are of great value and must be protected and conserved.

This project provides valuable hands-on research experience alongside our experienced staff in well-equipped research centres and access to unique ecosystems and wildlife. You will get the opportunity to carry out marine research and monitoring activities under the guidance of our co-ordinating project scientists. You will join other interns on the project to collect data via scuba dives, ocean safaris and beach walks off the Tofo coastline. You can look forward to excellent diving, snorkelling and beach experiences while gaining first-hand marine research skills and contributing to this worthwhile project.

As an intern, you can get involved in a multitude of research projects including monitoring whale shark numbers, behaviour and ecology and taking underwater photographs, monitoring the condition of the coral reefs and indicator species of reef fish. You can join multiple research projects including whale shark behaviour and ecology monitoring, monitoring the condition of coral reefs and indicator species of reef fish as well as taking underwater identification photographs. You will be trained on how to take identification photographs of manta rays and other threatened marine species in order to assess and monitor their population. Depending on the time of year you may assist in various indicators of the health of the marine biodiversity such as surveying humpback whale numbers and the turtle nesting activity. Our coordinating project scientists will train you in assisting with data collection. You can also help out with cleaning up beaches and other general environmental activities in addition to uploading and analyzing data.

Many of the project activities require you to be able or be ready to learn how to scuba dive. In order to facilitate this, there is an internationally recognized open or advanced diving course included in the cost of the program (not included in the two week option). Also, you need to be capable to snorkel and to swim unassisted for 100 m. It would be an advantage if you can hold your breath while diving but it is not a requirement.

Daily Life

Our staff will welcome you at Inhambane Airport and transfer you to your accommodation. Your second day will start with a presentation by the co-ordinating scientists which will prepare you for the project. After that you will get an introduction to Tofo and the nearby city of Inhambane. You will start your open water scuba diving course which will last between 4 and 7 days depending on the conditions. This is an internationally accredited course and upon completion you will get a certificate permitting you to scuba dive to 18 m anywhere in the world. If you already hold an open water course, you will complete an advanced dive course qualifying you to dive to 30 m. After the course is completed you will focus on the project activities.

If you are interning for two weeks and already have both open and advanced dive qualifications you will receive additional research dives or ocean safaris. You will begin the activities from day 8-13.

After your scuba classes you will have the opportunity to listen to interesting educational talks on the fascinating mega fauna with which you will be swimming over the next few weeks including how to identify different kinds of fish species.

On days 6-7 and all other weekends, you will have the time to explore the stunning palm-fringed beaches of Tofo - you can relax, swim, surf and enjoy the area. During the first weekend you can also complete your open or advanced certificate.

Once your dive course is completed you will officially be an assistant scientist. On days 8-12 and all other weekdays you will do dives.

You can start your day with the sunshine and a good breakfast! Afterwards, you will prepare your research dive - get your equipment together and head to one of the dive sites, and conduct research including fish and manta ray surveys. You may also go on an ocean safari and go searching for whale sharks and dolphins to photo ID and record their behavioural data. At 12:30 you can either return to the accommodation for lunch or eat a packed lunch brought with you. At 14:00 you can go to the office and enter data into the database from the research work you did in the morning. Depending on the time of year you may be collecting data on humpback whales, uploading photo IDs into the database, conducting turtle nest surveys or improving the beach environment by clean-up collection. You will return to the accommodation to share your experiences with the other volunteers and perhaps go for a swim in the ocean. A delicious dinner and time to relax will await you.


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Travel & Accommodation

During your experience you will be staying at the Albatroz Lodge nestled at the top of the sand dunes next to the project’s office and the dive centre, just a few steps away from the spectacular Tofo Beach. The accommodation is dorm style (with bunk beds) in chalets with traditional thatched roofs, open living areas and ample room to relax outside. They sleep 4 and 12 people with mattresses, mosquito nets, sheets and pillows provided. There is electricity and running drinkable water. The toilets and showers are shared. There are communal living spaces in each chalet, a relaxation area and a swimming pool where many wonderful moments can be shared.

The Albatroz Lodge is a short walk away from Tofo village where you can find a market, some shops, restaurants and bars. Inhambane, the nearest town, is an hour away with public transport.

While on the project, you will enjoy three meals a day at the Albatroz Lodge’s restaurant overlooking the swimming pool. For breakfast you can choose from cereals, bread, fruit, yogurt, eggs and spreads. Lunch includes sandwiches, salads, omelettes and pasta. Dinner is a cooked meal which may be pasta, a local dish or stew. The meals are local and fresh and will be part of your cultural experience. Vegetarian diets and most food allergies can be taken into consideration.

Prior to or upon arrival you can also add a trip to Kruger National Park (3-5 night camping safaris), surfing or yoga lessons on the beach

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