Mozambique – Whale Shark and Marine Conservation

This program is open to international volunteers!

Volunteer for the research and conservation of the marine ecosystem and unique marine life found in Mozambique! Volunteers have so far helped to identify over 400 whale sharks and add them to a global database.

 

Program Highlights:

  • Learn to dive or enhance your current dive skills
  • Get up close with massive, fascinating whale sharks
  • Learn from experts how to conduct photo identification surveys
  • Partake in survey dives and “ocean safaris”
  • Enjoy free weekends to explore with fellow volunteers

 

Program Schedule: (Minimum two-week duration):

Arrival Day, Sunday: Arrive at Maputo International Airport (MPM). A local coordinator will pick you up from the airport and take you to a reputable backpacker’s lodge in Maputo. You will stay the night and then travel early in the morning via bus to Tofu beach.
Day 1, Monday: Upon arrival at Tofu Beach, the local field team will pick you up and take you to your new home for the duration of the volunteer program. Meet and greet your fellow volunteers once you have settled in.
Day 2, Tuesday: Volunteers will receive an orientation, complete with a tour of Tofo.
Day 3-5, Wednesday-Friday: On Wednesday, orientation continues and internationally accredited open water scuba diving course begins, or an advanced open water certificate for those who have already a certificate for up to 18 meters. These certification courses will take place on Friday, combined with educational presentations in afternoons.

Volunteers who already have both PADI Open Water and PADI Advanced Open Water qualifications will engage in research dives or ocean safaris (photo identification dives).

Days 6-7, Saturday and Sunday: The weekend is free for volunteers to rest or explore.
Days 8-12, Monday-Friday: Volunteers will wake for early morning survey dives or ocean safaris to collect photos for the identification of whale sharks and dolphins. Following lunch, volunteers may take part in uploading identification photos to a database, conduct turtle nest surveys (dependent on the season) or partake in a beach clean-up. Free time before dinner.
Days 13-14, Saturday and Sunday: Enjoy another free weekend. Departure is on the following Monday, Day 14, for volunteers staying just two weeks.
Week 3 and onwards: The remaining weeks will follow the same schedule as Week Two, with volunteer work Monday-Friday and weekends free. Departure is on Mondays.

Note: All dive equipment is included in the program. Volunteers who join only for two weeks must already be certified divers. Non-divers must join for a minimum duration of at least three weeks.

 

Location icon Location of the Project: Praia do Tofo, Mozambique

Project length Project length: Min 2 weeks – Max 12 weeks

Arrival Airport Arrival Airport: Maputo International Airport (MPM)

Volunteer Work Volunteer Work:  Diving, underwater data collection, studying and photographing unique marine life – including whale sharks

Age Age:  18-50

Number of Volunteers Number of Volunteers: This project requires a minimum of 2 participants, any less and the project will not take place.

Important Note Important Note: In order to fully participate in the program you need to be a strong swimmer. Volunteers who join only for two weeks must already be certified divers.

 

What’s Included

Accommodations Accommodations: Shared chalet on the beach

Food Food: Three meals a day

Airport Transfers Airport Transfers:  Bus transfer on arrival day from Maputo to Tofu Beach is an extra fee of 14 EUR

Orientation Orientation: Upon arrival you will be given an orientation presentation by the team’s scientists, followed by a tour of Tofo and the nearby city of Inhambane. This includes time to get a local SIM card and enjoy some freshly prepared local food.

Support 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, first night in Maputo (14 EUR), bus transfer from Maputo to Tofu (14 EUR), personal expenses

Mozambique is a large country in Southeast Africa bordered by the Indian Ocean, Tanzania to the north, Malawi and Zambia to the northwest, Zimbabwe to the west, and Swaziland and South Africa to the southwest, making it the center of a diverse collection of African countries.

This project is based in the picturesque beach town of Praia do Tofo in the bustling Inhambane Province. It is world renowned for its incredible diving with regular viewing of spectacular marine life including whale sharks, dolphins, humpback whales, manta rays and turtles. The soft white sand and crystal clear waters of the coast stretch on for miles and is often compared to paradise.

Over the last 11 years, there has been an 80 percent decrease in the Mozambique whale shark population. With very little public knowledge of endangered species, the locals and politicians of this beautiful country do not prioritize the conservation of this marine species. This program is run by an organization that has been in existence for 14 years and has published 8 scientific papers with recommendations for conservation actions. This organization has also implemented protocols for in-water tourism interactions that help tourists not have a negative impact on the ecosystem.

Volunteers are involved in hands-on data collection and research collected through various scientific methodologies with field data collected on unique species, including whale sharks, humpback whales, dolphins, turtles and other marine biodiversity. The research and data aids in the making of recommendations for the improvement of conservation efforts as well as creating a general awareness about the marine environment.

As a volunteer on this project you will help carry out the marine research and monitoring activities for the project under the guidance of experienced marine ecologists. You will join other volunteers on the project to collect data via scuba dives, ocean safaris, and beach walks off the coastline of Tofo in Mozambique. You can expect an excellent diving, snorkeling and beach experience, whilst gaining first hand marine research skills all while contributing to the conservation of stunning marine life. During your time in Praia do Tofo you will be involved in a range of different research projects.

Some of your tasks may include:

  • Monitoring and snorkeling with the world’s largest fish – the whale shark
  • Studying marine behavior and ecology and taking underwater identification photographs, as well as uploading and analyzing this field data.
  • Monitoring the condition of coral reefs and indicator species of reef fish.
  • You may be trained to take ID photos of manta rays and other threatened marine species to aid population assessment.
  • At certain times of the year you may also help survey Humpback whale numbers and turtle nesting activity, as well as other indicators of the health of marine biodiversity in the region.
  • You may also assist with beach cleanups and other general environmental activities
  • As part of the project activities, you will complete an Internationally Recognized Dive Qualification during a normal 4-week program, along with 11 or 12 ocean activities (ocean safaris or research dives) depending on the dive course chosen. The number of ocean safaris and research dives conducted are calculated according to the length of your stay.

 

Please note: In order to engage in these activities you will need to be able or willing to learn to scuba dive. An open or advanced internationally recognized diving course is provided as part of your orientation. You need to be a capable swimmer (able to swim 100m unassisted) and snorkeler.

Internet icon Internet: WiFi in Mozambique is limited and generally slow. Data is most commonly purchased by the gigabyte through a local mobile network SIM card which you can buy for an additional fee on your first day in Inhambane.

Accommodations icon Accommodations: Volunteers will stay in chalets with traditional thatched roofs. The accommodation is dormitory-style and sleeps between 4 to 12 people. The chalets have electricity and running, drinkable water as well as an open living area with ample room to relax outside. The bedrooms are fitted with bunk beds, mattresses, mosquito nets, sheets and pillows. There are shared toilet and shower facilities.

Food icon Food: Three meals a day are provided. Vegetarian meals can be arranged, but it should be noted that a large amount of seafood is served.

 

Please take note of this project’s minimum requirements:

  • Minimum age of 18
  • Police clearance
  • Good level of fitness
  • Strong swimmer and snorkeler
  • Open water diving certification
  • Ability to work in a group
  • Immunizations (consult your doctor)
  • Volunteers who join only for two weeks must already be certified divers. Non-divers must join for a minimum duration of at least three weeks.

Orientation and Training (Included):
Following your arrival in Praia do Tofo you will be given a presentation by the co-coordinating project scientists to prepare you for the work you will be doing. You will then be shown around Tofo and have a tour of the nearby city of Inhambane, including time to get a local SIM card and enjoy some freshly prepared local food.

For the next few days ( weather depending) you will do an open water scuba diving course. This is an internationally accredited course and upon completion you will get a certificate permitting you to scuba dive up 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 and skills required to complete the conservation and research work on the project.

Volunteer Experiences

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