Why volunteer on this project
Join a world-class research team in one of Africa’s most beautiful coastal locations. Southern Mozambique is one of the best diving locations in the world, home to large populations of whale sharks, manta rays and marine turtles, and is an important refuge for other threatened marine species like the elusive dugong.
What will I be doing?
The objective of this programme is to gather as much information as possible about whale sharks, manta rays, marine turtles and humpback whales. This data is used by biologists worldwide to be better equipped for the conservation of these threatened species.
Diving and Snorkelling
Southern Mozambique is one of the top 10 scuba-diving and snorkelling locations in the world! During your programme you will usually undertake 4 research dives or ocean snorkel safaris per week, diving to depths of 30m on the deep research dives.
Previous dive experience is useful but Open Water or Advanced PADI diving certification can be included for a small additional fee.
– Megafauna research dives and snorkel safaris – manta rays and whale sharks
The Mozambican manta ray database is the second largest in the world. The area where you will volunteer is also a global hotspot for whale sharks, the world’s largest fish. Researchers have identified more than 600 whale sharks in the Mozambican waters.
- Join researchers to collect valuable field data to assist their scientific studies on manta rays and whale sharks
- Take identification photos and monitor behaviour
- Check acoustic listening stations
- Gather GPS locations, segregation and sex of whale sharks
- Tag animals and collect tissue samples
- Measure these amazing ocean giants using laser technology
– Turtle research (Nov – Feb)
All marine turtle species in Mozambique are globally endangered. Loggerhead, leatherback and hawksbill turtles are often sighted, however nesting grounds have declined rapidly due to poaching. There is little information available on turtle ecology and poaching activity and volunteers contribute by photo IDing turtles and adding them to the Mozambique turtle database.
– Humpback Whale Research (June – September)
Humpback whales make annual journeys from Antarctica to the East African coast, as far north as Tanzania, where they mate and calf. In the African winter, hundreds of humpback whales are regularly seen in the waters around the volunteer programme.
- Beach and boat monitoring of humpback whales
- Record details and enter into the humpback whale database
- You will not normally dive or snorkel near humpback whales as they can become very aggressive if they feel their calves are threatened.
In addition to collecting data on the above marine megafauna, you will also gather information on other threatened species in the area including dugongs, bowmouth guitar sharks and stingrays.
Data recording, analysis and maintenance of equipment
- Assist researchers and scientists with the preparation of acoustic listening stations and tags
- Help process tissue samples
- Set up camera equipment to measure the size of whale sharks
- Record megafauna behaviour, plankton density and environmental conditions
- Add your identification photos to the online database
- Scientific talks and presentations
- Explore Inhambane estuary by local sailing boat (dhow)
- Witness flamingos, seahorses and stunning macro life as you snorkel the stunning coral reef
- Find scorpion fish, lion fish, frog fish and crabs
Successful conservation relies as much on community work as scientific research. More than 60% of Mozambique’s population live in coastal areas, which places significant pressure on the marine environment. Many species are vulnerable to illegal poaching, many Mozambicans fear the sea and the majority cannot swim.
- Teach children water safety, surfing, snorkelling and go on ocean safaris
- Help with marine biology, ecology and conservation classes, participate in rock pool exploration and help with beach clean-ups
- Play water polo with the advanced swimmers and teach the younger children the basics
- Help in the creation of a children’s marine conservation book to be used as a study aid for local children and the community
Where will I stay?
Marine volunteers are based in Praia do Tofo, living literally metres away from the beach. Tofo is a vibrant little town characterised by local markets, friendly people and the stunning coastline and beach.
Volunteers live in a private house with a breath-taking view over Tofo’s main beach, equipped with all the necessary amenities – kitchen, shared bathrooms, computer and internet connection. You will stay in comfortable twin rooms with a maximum of 10 volunteers staying at any one time.
You will receive three lovely wholesome meals a day during your programme. You will either eat at the lodge restaurant, or sometimes there will be a braai. All your food is cooked fresh every day.
“Being a part of this incredible research and conservation program in Mozambique has been a privilege and an honour. Working in close proximity to the researchers was an amazing experience. I learned lots of interesting data collection and data analysis methods that I will be able to apply to my own personal research later in life. Not to mention I was also taught a vast amount of information about the sea life, both large and small, that surrounded me on each dive! The knowledge I gained from the diving and working hands-on in the office will benefit me greatly in my future endeavours.
I could not have asked for a more hospitable and friendly environment to spend my time volunteering! I want to give a big thanks to all of the wonderful staff at the lodge and all the members of the volunteer team for giving me such an amazing experience!”
Ashley C, USA, October 2017
“Our overall experience would be a 10. We loved Tofo and we had accommodations in a reed house, steps from the beach – absolutely gorgeous. We chose this project because we wanted to be near the ocean and hopefully see megafauna. One of the best experiences of the whole trip was being able to swim in the water with whale sharks and giant manta rays – it was such a privilege.
The conservation, volunteer and research community and the project staff adds significant value to the overall experience. The staff were absolutely first rate and very welcoming. The Mozambican staff at our beautiful accommodation were also amazing and extremely good hosts. The project and the volunteers are making great progress in the area of marine conservation and research. We are proud to have been able to assist and we hope to return soon!”
Tim W, USA, June 2017