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Dolphin Encountours Research Center

Dolphin Care Assistant

Ponta do Ouro, Mozambique show on map

Experience Mozambique. Volunteers can expect to have regular in-water encounters with wild dolphins while collecting and entering baseline data.

Our project

Our mornings start early in Ponta! If we are launching one can expect to be up at sunrise in preparation for the days dolphin sessions at sea. After a quick cuppa and snack you will head down to our dolphin center where you will assist with guest preparations for their encounter with wild dolphins in the open ocean. This will include assisting with welcoming and registration, pre-briefings and gear allocation. 

This normally takes about an hour, after which you will head to sea with the Dolphin Team to look for dolphins and whales during season. Once located, time will be spent collecting data that includes photography, acoustics, environmental and behavioral. 

Time is dedicated to the capturing of ‘fin shots’ for the Dolphins of Ponta id project. A set of steady sea legs, a good eye and some photography skills might find you behind the lens. Private cameras can be brought along to help with the project and your images will be added to the extensive data base.

Depending on dolphins behavior, we will enter into the water for observations and further collection via underwater video & cameras. Volunteers will be asked to undertake certain tasks in the water which may include assisting participants, photography and dolphin counts. One can expect to be at sea for around two hours at a time depending on sea state.

Once back on land volunteers assist with de-briefing participants, rinsing & sorting gear. Time for a quick hour break with breakfast before heading to the office where specific post launch activities take place that include camera cleaning, capturing and sorting of days images and data. After a two hour lunch break, the afternoon is spent working on other tasks. 

An early dinner is served and the evening is yours. Turtle season may find you accompanying local monitors on their routine walks which are set to the tide (ever changing).

Project location

DERC is situated in Ponta do Ouro on the southern most tip of Moçambique, bordering South Africa. To the south, there is a long line of forest covered dunes, 100m in elevation. At Ponta point, the coast swings to the west, creating a leeward protected bay. The area of the town is 10 km2, & located 117 km south of Maputo. 

The area is characterized by a warm sub-tropical climate. The warm currents from the Agulhas determine the temperature, the composition of the sea water &, indirectly, the north-south orientation of the coastline. The rainy season broadly coincides with the hot months, between November & March, though most provinces have some rain for seven to nine months of the year. Winter is July to September, but in the coastal areas the average temperature generally does not fall below 12 degrees celsius in the evenings. The continental shelf extends about six NMs offshore with the easterly seaward boundary extending to 3NMs. The predominant Agulhas current flows strongly south while inshore countercurrents flowing northwards occur commonly. 

Volunteer Work

Generally work time is until 4pm daily except for Saturdays and Sundays where work will finish after post launch activities. Volunteers are allocated one off day per week to explore the area, surf, scuba dive, kite board, sup or simply just chill. As tourism is seasonal, there are times where you can experience much down time. During peak periods though, we are in full swing and you can expect to work long, hot hours with extensive visitor & dolphin interaction. Participants will share the daily routine, with each person designated a specific job per time period. Volunteers may be called upon to assist with animal strandings, turtle monitoring, & guest educational & snorkelling sessions. The program caters towards individuals wanting field experience, tourism experience, or simply a career break. The first week of the program will be spent working closely with team members in training & learning set protocols, in order to maintain the integrity of the project.

Typical day

The daily obligations of our volunteers include

  • Waking up early and being on time!
  • Boat based and in-water data & image capturing
  • Land based observations
  • Data entry & image cropping/cataloguing
  • Dolphins of Ponta fin id and adoption project
  • Preparation of educational, information boards
  • Educational orientation with tourists
  • Bone/skeleton preparation, cataloguing & reconstruction
  • Tourist / lodge surveys 

Details on Arrival

The project operates year-round although there are some weeks we are closed. We will generally start each four week program on the first Monday of every month, each holding a maximum of eight participants. Additional weeks can be arranged upon request. Bear in mind, when deciding on your period of volunteering, December to February is summer, hot & humid; & June to August is cooler (nights a brisk 10-12 degrees), but drier. Remember our other special species too. Humpback whale migration July to November and turtle season November to March.

Free-time activities

During ones free-time there are a number of other activities one can participate in.
Scuba Diving - One is able to dive or qualify as a scuba diver through one of the permitted operators in the area.
Swimming - is possible in the bay of Ponta do Ouro
Water sports - includes surfing, lessons and board hire available.

Water Sports
Swimming
Diving/Snorkling

Program Requirements

In order to join the program you need to be at least 18 years old on the program start date. There might be exemptions if you can provide the permission of your legal guardian(s). Of course, there is an exception for children that are accompanied by their parents.
Language Skills
You need to speak English (fluently)
Nationality Restrictions
No restrictions. Helping hands from all over the world are welcome.
Other Skills
Fluent in English, Portuguese a bonus.
Computer literate (microsoft & applemac excel)
Comfortable on / in / around the ocean
Comfortable with public speaking/presentation
Time Commitment
Your helping hand will be required on Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday and Friday from 05:00 - 17:00

Suitable for

Singles
Couples
Families
Groups
50+

Included Services

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We refund your fees if Dolphin Encountours Research Center cancels your trip
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Our services are free of charge!
All program fees are charged directly by Dolphin Encountours Research Center.
Services by Dolphin Encountours Research Center

Accommodation sharing
Basic meals (2 per day)
Training for specific tasks
DolphinCare contribution
Field trips ~ 3 per week weather dependent
Mentoring by the Dolphin Team
Dolphin Pack (t-shirts to be worn on duty, certificate of attendance, pictures & dolphin diaries from your stay; information on our dolphins, research & interesting reference papers
Snorkel tax

Accommodation

Volunteer and interns are accommodated in the volunteer room at Lar do Ouro which is a lodge owned by DolphinCare's biologist Diana Rocha. Accommodation comes equipped with bed, linen & basic mosquito net.
It is situated 10 minutes walk from the beach.

Bedroom (Double)
Food & Beverages

Dinner and breakfast included. Options normal or vegetarian.
Drinks not provided.

Internet Access
Limited access at the project site
What's NOT included?
Visa, flights, travel insurance or vaccinations are NOT included in the program fees. An airport pickup isn't included within the program fees either.
Flight Tickets
The nearest airport is Maputo International Airport (MPM) in Maputo. We assist you to find cheap flights to Mozambique.
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 Mozambique provides security and is a plus to have.
Vaccines
If you are intending to volunteer in Mozambique you should seek medical advice before starting your social journey. Check your required vaccinations for Mozambique.
Costs (Prices in USD)
4 weeks (min. stay)
$1,230.00
30 days (max. stay)
$1,230.00
Average fees
$287.00/week

You can volunteer at the project site in Ponta do Ouro/Mozambique between 4 weeks and 30 days. Please note that the above shown program fees are estimated and subject to exchange rate fluctuations. Dolphin Encountours Research Center 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 Mozambique.
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 must be made up to 30 days before to the volunteer program starts. This payment is also securely handled by PayPal or credit card.
Africa Eastern Africa Mozambique Ponta do Ouro, Beach Road
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