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Diving and Marine Research

Nosy Be Island, Madagascar show on map

Agency | GoEco

We aim to provide the local communities & government with the information they need to design and implement plans for the future protection of the marine ecosystem.

The program

The increasing population in Madagascar is having a destructive impact on the island's ecology. The local government is now working with international conservation groups, including this project team, to stop this destruction and save the island's invaluable biodiversity. The project team and the volunteers discover and chart extensive areas of pristine coral, record healthy populations of fish and coral cover and identify a wide range of intertidal creatures. On shore, the team explores the lush mangrove forests, the unique ecosystem which straddles the land and the ocean. The Location

Your contribution

During this program 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 will be bringing will help create future management plans. Further program activities include surveying mangroves, a vital buffer against storm surges caused by cyclones, and an important part of the coastal ecosystem.

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.

The location

Madagascar is considered one of the 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 cutoff from the African continent for millions of years.

The local weather: 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.

Please note: For those of you not dive trained already and not staying for 6 weeks or more, time will be a limiting factor. 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 6 weeks. Those staying 4 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 3 weeks your involvement in the surveys and conservation work will be limited.

Typical day

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. 

Your days as a part of this program 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.

Free-time activities

The program is located on the island of Nosy Be, in the village of Ambalahonko, which is in the northwest of 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. 


Program Requirements

In order to join the program you need to be at least 16 years old on the program start date.
Language Skills
You need to speak English (fluently)
Nationality Restrictions
No restrictions. Helping hands from all over the world are welcome.
Other Skills
Good physical fitness.

You must have both a PADI Open Water Certification and a PADI Advanced Open Water Certification in order to take part in this project. If you are not certified, you can complete the training courses for both/either of these certifications prior to beginning your volunteer placement for an additional fee. Please speak to your placement coordinator about costs.
Time Commitment
Your helping hand will be required on Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, Friday and Sunday

Suitable for


Included Services

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We refund your fees if GoEco cancels your trip
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Our services are free of charge!
All program fees are charged directly by GoEco.
Services by GoEco
  • accommodation
  • three meals a day
  • airport pickup upon arrival
  • comprehensive travel health insurance with volunteer abroad coverage
  • local in-country team and 24h emergency support
Airport Pickup at Fascene Airport

During your program 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 & Beverages
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.
Internet Access
Sorry, no access at the project site
What's NOT included?
Visa, flights, travel insurance or vaccinations are NOT included in the program fees.
Flight Tickets
The nearest airport is Fascene Airport (NOS) in Nossi-be. We assist you to find cheap flights to Madagascar.
Travel Insurance
Going abroad is an adventure and it is always best to be prepared. Sudden illness or injury, cancellation or theft - a travel insurance for Madagascar provides security and is a plus to have.
If you are intending to volunteer in Madagascar you should seek medical advice before starting your social journey. Check your required vaccinations for Madagascar.
Costs (Prices in USD)
3 weeks (min. stay)
4 weeks
5 weeks
6 weeks
7 weeks
8 weeks
9 weeks
10 weeks (max. stay)
Average fees

You can volunteer at the project site in Nosy Be Island/Madagascar between 3 weeks and 10 weeks. Please note that the above shown program fees are estimated and subject to exchange rate fluctuations. GoEco will let you know about the final price during your application process.
Crowdfunding Service
Generally, volunteering abroad involves certain costs. In case you need financial support, we will assist you to fundraise your volunteer program in Madagascar.
Deposit (15%)
The deposit is simply to reserve your volunteer placement. Payments are handled by PayPal, our trusted global payment provider. If you don't have a PayPal account, you can also pay using a credit card.
Final Payment (85%)
Your final payment will be agreed with GoEco during the application process. Common solutions are either via bank transfer or a cash payment at the project site.
  Africa Eastern Africa Madagascar  Nosy Be Island, N/a

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