Marine Conservation Volunteering
2 - 12 weeks
Up to 10 people
2 - 12 weeks
Up to 10 people
What's the project about?
Southern Mozambique is one of the world’s top 10 scuba diving locations. The area is home to large populations of whale sharks, manta rays and humpback whales. Our marine conservation project is focused on the long-term protection of marine megafauna. Marine conservation volunteers take a holistic approach to conservation, gathering data on a range of small and large creatures, to gain a full understanding of the ocean ecosystem.
How will I be contributing?
The goal of the project is for marine conservation volunteers to consistently gather data on ocean megafauna. Thus ensuring the national whale shark and manta ray databases are kept up-to-date. You will collect population data, tag and measure animals, monitor environmental conditions, take ID photos and record behaviour. Marine volunteers will also monitor coral reefs and work in the mangrove forests, plus log dives and analyse camera traps.
What makes this project ethical?
The marine conservation volunteer programme was set up to give citizen scientists the opportunity to participate in vital marine monitoring and research. Whilst at the same time gaining a wide variety of practical marine research skills. Volunteers collect data for specific research projects, and databases are used in policy-making to protect and preserve Mozambique’s marine wildlife.
The objective of the marine conservation volunteer project is to gather as much useful information as possible about ocean creatures and the underwater ecosystem.
Learn research techniques from experienced marine biologists, get close to incredible marine creatures, snorkel stunning coral reefs in clear waters and live in a beautiful beachside lodge.
Your activities may depend on the time of year that you volunteer, but rest assured, there is plenty to do year-round.
Diving and snorkelling
During your programme you will usually undertake four research dives or ocean snorkel safaris per week. If you are doing your dive training, you will fit other activities in your first week around this training.
– Megafauna research
Focus species: manta ray, whale shark (both year round)
The Mozambican manta ray database is the second largest in the world, with 800 individuals identified in the area. Tofo is also a global hotspot for the whale shark – the world’s largest fish, and to date more than 600 individuals have been identified in the area. All marine turtle species in Mozambique are endangered, and their nesting grounds have declined rapidly due to poaching.
- Collect field data to assist research and conservation planning
- Take identification photos and monitor behaviour
- Check acoustic listening stations
- Tag animals and collect tissue samples
- Learn to use a dive log to record key information whilst diving
- Observe and record environmental conditions
- Update databases
– Humpback Whale Research (June – September)
Humpback whales make annual journeys from Antarctica to the East African coast where they mate and calve. In the African winter, hundreds of humpback whales are seen in the waters in and around Tofo as the give birth and wait for their babies to be strong enough to make the long journey back to Antarctica. If volunteers are particularly interested in whales, you should consider joining the separate Humpback Whale Research Programme as well.
- Beach and boat monitoring of humpback whales
- Record numbers, pod demographics and behaviour
- Photographically ID whales
- Record whale song on a hydrophone
- Analyse data captured
- Take biopsies to get information on pollutants, genetics, feeding ecology, and the age of the sampled whale
You will not normally dive or snorkel near humpback whales as they can become very aggressive if they feel their calves are threatened.
For more information on participating in annual whale research, please visit our Humpback Whale Research Programme page.
In addition to collecting data on the above marine megafauna, you will also gather information on other threatened species in the area including dolphins, bowmouth guitar sharks, stingrays and seahorses.
Estuary and coral reef conservation
An estuary is an area where a river meets an ocean – an amazing mixture of marine and coastal wildlife. The Tofo estuary has vast mangrove forests on the shore, which are key to the variety of marine creatures found in the area. The estuary, mangroves and reef are key areas where volunteers work, to ensure they are maintained and their wildlife protected. You will explore the estuary by traditional dhow, on foot and on snorkelling expeditions.
- Video transects on coral reefs to count fish species and numbers, and measure environmental conditions
- Track the historic health of the reef systems to create baseline data
- Work with local communities to create protected areas in coral reefs
Data recording and analysis
- 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
There may be opportunities to visit some of the local fishing villages and meet with the local community, to understand their daily lives and challenges. There will be regular beach clean-ups, which volunteers will also participate in.
- Enjoy dhow tours of the estuary surrounding Inhambane, where you can find sea stars, sea moths and sea horses, all whilst snorkelling
- Visit Pandane, who boasts one of the best snorkelling reefs in Mozambique
- Learn to surf (included in your project fee!)
- Visit local restaurants and sample local cuisine, which must include Mozambique’s world-famous prawns
Other projects you might be interested in
Witness an incredible ocean migration in a stunning location. Assist researchers with data collection to support international whale conservation.
2 - 8 weeks
Horse Riding Internship, Mozambique
A perfect working holiday in one of the world’s finest beach riding destinations. Rehabilitate rescued horses, learn new riding skills and discover new cultures.
2 - 12 weeks
Volunteer as a Field Assistant in two of Zimbabwe’s most magnificent national parks. A unique volunteer opportunity on a true wilderness experience.
Support the conservation of big cats in a responsible way and help mitigate the human-wildlife conflict. Track wild carnivores in a spectacular setting.