MARINE RESEARCH & CONSERVATION
Scuba dive in Mozambique and get hands-on experience in world-class field research on a marine volunteer project designed and created by leading whale shark and manta ray scientists. With one of the highest populations of whale sharks in the world, year-round sightings of manta rays and home to other species such as whales, sharks and turtles, this project aims to conduct research to find out vital information about these threatened species and directly contribute towards the conservation efforts taking place in the area.
From Tofo’s rustic, unspoilt beaches and turquoise seas to its vibrant marine life and colourful culture, everyone will enjoy this exotic paradise. Situated in Southern Mozambique with palm-fringed beaches and wide expanses of powdery white sand, this is a famous spot for world-class scuba-diving and for opportunities to spot some of the magnificent creatures that live here – whale sharks, manta rays and other large marine species such as sharks and turtles.
However, many of these species are under threat and the beautiful and important coral reefs in the area are at risk of exploitation and other changes associated with tourism and human interaction. Research on species and reef degradation is vital in working with governments and other stakeholders to improve legislative protection and the creation of protected areas. Volunteers play a huge part in gathering as much information as possible about these threatened species and directly contribute towards the conservation efforts taking place in Tofo.
The Research Station is located in the little touristic fisherman village of Tofo, in the Inhambane province of southern Mozambique. You’ll stay at the Volunteer House within Casa Barry Lodge, which has shared accommodation with five same-sex rooms each with two beds. You’re just two steps from the beach and the terrace of the Volunteer House offers incredible views over the entire bay, where you can relax after a long day, while taking pictures of the sunset or whale watching! The Research Station is equipped with a science lab, an office area, a scientific library, a garden with a swimming pool and 2 boats for research trips. During your free time, you’re also welcome to use the surfboards, kitesurf and surfski!
Three freshly cooked meals are prepared for you daily at the on-site restaurant, by the beach. You have a choice of meals from the menu each day, and the restaurant can cater to vegetarians and vegans. Should you have any specific dietary requirements, please let us know before you arrive. Sometimes braais (BBQs) are arranged, and these will be done either at the Volunteer House or another outdoor area.
There is free WiFi available at the restaurant and office of the Research Station and it is possible to buy a local sim card and mobile data in town. Project Coordinators reside within the Volunteer House and are on call 24 hours a day, if required.
The climate is hot and humid all year round, with February the hottest month with an average daily maximum temperature of 30°C. The wettest months are January and February when afternoon thunderstorms are a regular occurrence and the cooler, dry season (April to October) is recommended as a more comfortable period to visit.
PROJECT IMPACT AREAS
CORAL REEF AND MARINE MEGAFAUNA DIVES
Volunteers play a crucial role in gathering and analysing data for long-term projects in Praia do Tofo and a large portion of your time will be spent on research scuba dives, where your priority is to gain quality data that contributes to successful conservation of the coral reefs and megafauna in the region including, whale sharks, manta rays and other large oceanic creatures.
If you are not yet PADI qualified, please let us know and we can provide a price that includes your PADI Open Water Certification or PADI Advanced Open Water Certification, or both!
PHOTO IDS AND CAMERA TRAPS
You will create photo identity kits for whale sharks and manta rays all year round and marine turtles from November to February, plus other marine megafauna, and record and upload these to relevant databases. You will also be involved in monitoring the behaviour of each species, including location, segregation, sex behaviour, and specific identifying features, such as scars on mantas or whale sharks. To collect information over a prolonged period of time, camera traps are also deployed on the reef to record what oceanic life comes past. You will help to prepare these and set them up, then examine and analyse the footage.
The Inhambane Estuary is fed by two rivers and is controlled by the tides; it provides a shallow water habitat to study the health of the reef and surrounding mangroves. You will go out into the estuary on a traditional dhow boat to snorkel, collecting data on the abundance of species through surveys and video transects. This gives insight into the reef and over time this data supports work with local governments to regulate and protect the area. In 2017, this project successfully established nine protected areas in the estuary!
SCIENTIFIC TALKS AND DOCUMENTARIES
Attend talks on marine megafauna biology, anatomy, physiology, pathology, research, and conservation. The research team have a wealth of specialist marine knowledge and researchers give regular talks about specific wildlife such as sharks or manta rays. These will be relevant to anything you’ve seen or learnt about in the week and will be tailored to the particular interests of volunteers.
Community involvement and interaction is a big part of conservation, and we find regular opportunities to engage with local people. You might take part in a beach clean-up, visit a local school to educate children about the importance of ocean conservation and how to avoid dangers in the water, or attend a community event such as World Oceans Day.
FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS
Mozambique Marine Conservation
What's the Mozambique Marine Conservation project about?
Our marine conservation project in Mozambique is focused on working with a team of leading marine biologists and other scientists, conducting research, and collecting data to protect endangered species of marine megafauna like whale sharks, manta rays, and other marine life. The program also includes PADI open water and advanced open water scuba diving training, community engagement including beach clean up, and other volunteer projects at a local estuary.
How will I be contributing to the Marine Conservation Project?
During this project, you will have the opportunity to dive deep into the Indian Ocean around Tofo, Mozambique. During these research dives, you will see and study manta rays, whale sharks, turtles, and other marine species in various coral reefs. You will research and collect data about these diverse marine species in their natural habitat by measuring animals, recording behaviour, and observing the conditions of the environment. During the project, you will also have the opportunity to help protect local coral reefs and endangered species from exploitation, and educate the local people in the Tofo community about the importance of marine research and ocean conservation efforts.
What makes this project ethical?
Research dives conducted by volunteers are focused on protecting the various marine life and coral reefs of the Indian Ocean. Volunteers learn how to assist in various ocean conservation efforts, create protected areas for several species, and improve the lives of endangered marine life in Mozambique.
You will have the opportunity to enjoy some of the incredible attractions Praia do Tofo and the surrounding area have to offer. Learn to surf, join a kayak trip up the estuary or learn to SCUBA dive in the warm Indian Ocean with an exceptional dive shop nearby. For the more adventurous, take a kite-surfing lesson, quad bike along the beach, or admire the sea views from horseback.
Join a yoga or African dance class, relax on the beach, braai (BBQ) under the stars, listen to live music at local venues, or buy some traditional Mozambican gifts at the local crafts market.
Before or after your project, you may wish to travel elsewhere in Africa. South Africa is the most commonly visited destination with a 15-hour shuttle service departing directly from Tofo to Johannesburg (or vice versa) twice weekly or a quick flight from Inhambane Airport. Once in South Africa you can explore Cape Town or go on safari in the Greater Kruger region, this extremely diverse country has something for everyone!
Once you have submitted your application, a Destination Specialist will be in-touch to discuss the project with you.