Work in the field to help Whale Shark conservation!
As a volunteer on the Marine Research & Whale Shark Conservation Project you will help carry out the marine research and monitoring activities for the project under the guidance of our co-ordinating project scientists. You will join other volunteers on the project to collect the data via scuba dives, ocean safaris, and beach walks off the coastline of Tofo in Mozambique. You can expect an excellent diving, snorkelling and beach experience whilst gaining first hand marine research skills and contributing to a worthwhile project.
As a volunteer you will help on a multitude of research projects. These include monitoring of whale shark numbers, behaviour and ecology and taking underwateridentification photographs; monitoring the condition of coral reefs and indicator species of reef fish. You will also be trained to take ID photos of manta rays and other threatened marine species to aid population assessment and monitoring. At certain times of the year you may help survey humpback whale numbers and turtle nesting activity as well as other indicators of the health of marine biodiversity. You may also assist with beach clean-ups and other general environmental activities, and will help upload and analyse the field data.
Some of the activities you will get involved in may include:
Whale Shark (throughout the year) The whale shark component of the Project involves joining ocean safaris to snorkel with Whale Sharks in the open ocean. It involves taking underwater photographs for identifying the Whale Sharks as well as recording other ecological information. As a summary, you will collect the following information on the Whale Sharks:
Dolphin (throughout the year) Another species monitored on ocean safaris are dolphins. You will be collecting data which enables dolphin numbers and behaviours to be recorded and uploaded onto databases to share with our Marine Partners. Of particular interest in this study is dolphin behaviour in relation to tourism
Coral Reef and Fish (throughout the year) The coral reef monitoring involves joining scuba diving and carrying out underwater data collection on indicator species of coral fish and the condition and cover of coral and echinoderms on the reefs. As a summary, on these research dives you may carry out the following activities:
Turtles (November to March) You may help survey turtle survival and you may be lucky enough from November to February to monitor nesting of turtles on beaches in the areas around Tofo. Historically, loggerhead turtles have nested here in significant numbers and although these, as well as green turtles, leatherback turtles and hawksbill turtles, are sighted in-water, their nesting has declined dramatically owing to poaching. In the last 8 years, little to no nests have been found in the area. The surveys involve working to patrol the beaches, recording nest sites, finding shells- sizing them and taking a GPS points for data collection on poaching in the area.
Seahorses (throughout the year) This project will involve travelling to the nearby Inhambane Estuary and snorkling in relatively shallow waters to evaluate and monitor the seahorse population. The seahorses are counted, and photos taken to identify size of the seahorses, and data then entered into a database to allow for analysis.
Humpback Whales (June – October) You may help monitor the numbers of humpbacked whales on their seasonal migration up and down the coast. This involves sand dune based observations using binoculars and boat based observations recording the numbers of whales, the makeup of the pods and behaviours witnessed.
Fly into Inhambane Airport, usually connections are available from OR Tambo Airport Johannesburg or Maputo Mozambique (more details in “Arrivals” section in the Mozambique Destination Brief) where you will be met by an All Out Africa staff member who will transfer on the short journey to your accommodation.
Your orientation will start with a presentation by the co-ordinating project scientists to prepare you for your project. You will then be shown around Tofo and Inhambane.
Thereafter you will do an open water scuba diving course which usually lasts between 4 and 7 days depending on conditions. This is an internationally accredited course and upon completion you will get a certificate permitting you to scuba dive to 18m anywhere in the world. Those who already hold an open water course will complete an advanced dive course (qualifies you to dive to 30m). Once the course is completed you will have the time & skills to focus on the project activities.
If you are a two week volunteer on the program or already have both open and advanced dive qualifications you will not receive a dive course but will receive additional research dives or ocean safari’s for an equivalent value. You will begin the activities described under day 8-13 on the itinerary instead.
Day 6-7 and all other weekends
At weekends there is time to explore the stunning palm-fringed beaches of Tofo: relax, surf, swim and enjoy your beautiful surroundings. During the first weekend you may also be completing your open or advanced water certificate.
Day 8-12 and all other week days
You will begin your project activities, which can include any of the research activities outlined in the volunteer role section of this brief.