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Please Note: This program is temporarily unavailable. Check out our alternative programs in Africa or schedule a one-on-one call with one of our expert volunteer advisors.

Join GoEco on the tropical, African island of Madagascar to conduct vital marine research and collect data on various ecosystems!

Program Highlights:
  • Discover and chart extensive areas of pristine coral to record the marine life populations
  • Learn to map coral, identify reef fish and invertebrate and study the behavior of fish 
  • Become PADI Advanced Open Water and PADI Coral Reef Research Diver certified (for an additional fee) 
  • Explore the lush mangrove forests and glistening beaches
  • Experience a new culture by living in a small, local village

Program Schedule:

Arrival Day, Monday: Arrive into Nosy Be Airport (NOS). The local team will be waiting to pick you up from the airport and taken to the project site. Other arrivals will take a taxi to the project site.

Days 1-6, Monday-Sunday: A typical morning will begin with an on-land survey before breakfast. Volunteers who are already both PADI Open Water and Advanced Open Water certified will join a diving survey, while non-divers will begin their dive course following breakfast. Following this, volunteers will have lunch and head out on another survey. Volunteers will debrief, have a presentation or take a quiz before dinner. Volunteers will work six days per week, and have one day free. Please note that this is a sample schedule and is subject to change.

Weeks 2-10: The remaining weeks will keep the same schedule of six days of volunteering work and one free day. Departure is on a Monday for all volunteers. 

Please note: It is highly recommended if you are participating in the project for your studies or future career interests that you stay for a minimum of six weeks. Those staying four weeks or less will be trained in identification and methods including in water practice, but usually full surveying does not commence until Week 4 or 5. If you are able to join the project for only three weeks, your involvement in the surveys and conservation work will be limited. Volunteers who do not have PADI Open Water and PADI Advanced Open Water certifications must join these certification courses for an additional fee of $1156 USD and must join the program for a minimum of three weeks. Volunteers who are only PADI Open Water certified must join for a minimum of two weeks and take the Advanced certification course for an additional fee of $561 USD. Mask, snorkel, booties, westsuit, dive compass and fins not included.
Location of the Project:  Nosy Be Island, Madagascar
Project length:  Min 1 week - Max 10 weeks
Arrival Airport:  Nosy Be Fascene Airport (NOS)
Volunteer Work:  Diving, coral reef mapping, studying fish behavior, mangrove surveys
Age:  18 - 50
Number of Volunteers:  In order to fully participate in the program, it is highly recommended that volunteers without diving certification join the project for a minimum of 6 weeks.
Important Note:  This conservation program is designed for volunteers with both PADI Open Water Certification and a PADI Advanced Open Water Certification. If you are non-certified you can get both PADI certifications on site(for an extra cost) however you must join the program for a minimum of three weeks. Volunteers who wish to join for only 1 weeks must already be both PADI Open Water certified and Advanced certified. Volunteers who wish to join for only 2 weeks must be PADI Open Water certified and must become Advanced certified for an additional fee.

What's Included

Accommodations:  Volunteers will stay in shared huts or tents
Food:  Three meals a day
Airport Transfers:  Airport pick up is provided on arrival day
Support:  Comprehensive and professional pre-departure travel guidance, 24/7 GoEco emergency hotline, experienced local field team.

What's not Included

Flights, visa (if required), travel health insurance, mask, snorkel, booties, westsuit, dive compass, fins, personal expenses
Madagascar is the fourth largest island in the world, comprising an area as large as Spain and Portugal combined. There are rainforests on the island's eastern coast , although many of them are disappearing and turning into agricultural land or Savanna grasslands.
Madagascar is considered one of the world's most ecologically rich countries, with a landscape that varies significantly. The island has many species of flora and fauna not found anywhere else in the world, mainly due to the fact that the island has been inaccessible and cut off from the African continent for millions of years.
This project is located on the island of Nosy Be, in the village of Ambalahonko, which is in northwest Madagascar. Ambalahonko is a peaceful village with 40 households. They just recently welcomed the project team into their community and the relationship is growing strong. The project team (staff and volunteers) enjoys occasional Saturday night parties with the locals, attends occasional church or ceremonial gatherings, learns the local language and is even taught how to cook local dishes. 
The local weather varies by season. The wet season is November to April and the climate will be very hot and humid. At the end of the rainy season, May to October, typical temperatures are 20-25°C at night, which can feel a bit chilly at times once you've acclimatized, and 25-30°C during the day.
During your placement you will be performing scuba and snorkel surveys, in which you will map coral, identify reef fish and invertebrates, study the behavior of fish and possibly see whale sharks. The data you collect will help create future management plans. Further project activities include surveying mangroves, which provide a vital buffer against storm surges caused by cyclones, and are an important part of the coastal ecosystem.
For the first couple of days on the project, you will be settling into camp, familiarizing yourself with the running of a remote field research station and you will be assigned various camp responsibilities.
The nature of our research requires you to identify a range of aquatic life, therefore, your first three weeks will follow a structured learning plan, including various tests, in order to get you qualified in survey techniques. Be prepared to put in a lot of work at this stage. On arrival to the camp you will undergo concurrent periods of dive training (if necessary) or basic surveying (for those trained in diving) and science training where you will have an intensive course learning fish, coral, algae and invertebrate species. 

It is highly recommended if you are participating in the project for your studies or future career interests that you stay for a minimum of six weeks. Those staying four weeks or less will be trained in identification and methods including in water practice, but usually full surveying does not commence until Week 4 or 5.  If you are able to join the project for only three weeks, your involvement in the surveys and conservation work will be limited.
Below is a basic list of activities and research techniques you will be using: 
  • Habitat mapping: our first priority is to provide a comprehensive, underwater map of the bay. This involves noting where we find sea grass, coral, sand, rock and other substances. This is conducted by small-boat reconnaissance, snorkeling and scuba diving.
  • Mangrove mapping: you will look at the diversity in different mangrove stands.
  • Fisheries studies: you will work with fishermen at fish landing sites to assess catch levels and composition. This gives us an idea of how healthy the fishery is and provides insights into long-term changes.
  • Cetaceans: you will look out for whales and dolphins, making notes of incidental sightings, which will help the team design the long-term research plan.
  • Coral Disease: you will look into the abundance and occurrence of coral diseases among the reefs to see if certain areas are more affected due to different environmental factors.
Your days as a part of this project will be busy. The work will be challenging, rewarding and fun. Your help will be of great benefit to the conservation of the fabulous coral reefs and you will gain immense satisfaction from knowing that you have helped protect these precious natural resources for future generations.
Internet:  You will be in the field for the entirety of your expedition so please advise parents and friends that it will be very unlikely that you will be in touch regularly. You will be able to access emails if you choose to go to town on your day off (Saturday) but let your friends and family know that this access will be fairly irregular, as it won’t necessarily be possible to do this every weekend.
Laundry:  No washing machines are available.
Accommodations:  During your project you will live in a beach camp in locally built huts. Do not expect to find any luxuries such as electricity, beds or toilets. You will be sleeping on your roll mat in a sleeping bag. Overall camp has everything we need and the beautiful setting makes it a wonderful place to live.
Food:  Food will be fairly basic – lots of rice and beans with some vegetables. Part of your role on camp will be to help with the cooking. Drinking and washing water comes from a tap in the village and is filtered and safe for drinking.
Please take note of this project's minimum requirements:
  • Ages 18 - 50
  • Good level of English
  • Immunizations (consult with your doctor)
  • Good physical fitness
  • PADI Open Water certified and PADI Advanced Open Water certified
  • Mask, snorkel, booties, westsuit, dive compass and fins 

For experienced divers, there are further dive courses available: PADI Emergency First Response, PADI Rescue Diver and PADI Divemaster qualifications. Prices for these courses are also available upon request.
Madagascar has spectacular natural beauty; it is home to thousands of plant and animal species found nowhere else in the world.
If you have time before or after your project, there are many travel opportunities, both near and far from Nosy Be.

Some suggestions include: 
  • Ranomafana National Park
  • Masoala National Park
  • Avenue of the Baobabs
  • Isalo National Park
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