Dive in some of the least explored marine sites in the world and work towards a sustainable environment in Madagascar.
About the Programme
The vivid multi-coloured corals and luxuriant sea grass beds provide rich feeding grounds for an extraordinary array of colourful reef fish, rays, sea urchins, anemones, octopus and even sea turtles. While barracuda, sharks, dolphins, migrating whales and shoals of pelagics cruise the deep blue waters offshore. You can explore this exquisite, untarnished underwater world as you learn to dive off the island of Nosy Be. Meaning ‘Big Island’ in Malagasy this location certainly lives up to its name.
You will discover and chart extensive areas of pristine coral, record healthy populations of fish and coral cover, and learn to identify a wide range of intertidal creatures from tiny Hermit Crabs to sparkling sea anemones. On shore you will explore the lush mangrove forests; the unique ecosystem which straddles the land and the ocean. You'll learn how artisanal fishing communities live and utilise the rich marine resources. You will discover which groups of marine organisms are being harvested sustainably and which are being over exploited or hunted to extinction.
Your days will be eventful; the work will be challenging, rewarding and fun. Your discoveries will be of huge benefit to the conservation of these fabulous coral reefs and you will gain immense satisfaction from knowing that you have helped protect these precious natural resources for future generations.
The results from your investigations will supply vital information on the Madagascan coastline to enable the sustainable management of natural resources in the region and the protection of the marine wildlife.
The marine research and conservation programme is run in association with L'Institut Halieutique et des Sciences Marine (IHSM), with whom Frontier has been in partnership since 2000. This research and conservation programme aims to provide the local communities, stakeholders and government bodies with the information they need to design and implement management plans for the future protection of this pristine marine ecosystem.
To gather the data needed you will undertake diving surveys and snorkel surveys (weather permitting), mangrove transects and interviews, with one day off each week. If you need dive training we will train you up on the Frontier camp at the start of the programme. Your activities will involve locating and mapping the extensive, pristine coral reefs and studying the various communities existing on them. The number of dives completed each week on the programme depend on the quarterly science plan and itinerary as set by the Frontier field staff.
You'll also explore the important mangrove forests and record the rich variety of organisms living there and in the other intertidal zones. Whilst diving you will discover dense sea grass beds rich sources of nutrients for the marine communities. You will deploy a wide range of newly learned research skills and scientific techniques including: underwater visual census of reef and commercial fish such as trigger fish and parrot fish, assessment of algal and coral cover to determine the extent of coral bleaching and damage, and line intercept transects for benthic life and indicator invertebrate species such as nudibranchs. You may even get to study the impact of potentially destructive fishing methods on the corals reefs, study the effects of global warming on marine communities or note any indication of the impact of the marine-curio trade on endangered marine invertebrates.
Whilst diving and snorkelling, you'll see an extraordinary array of animals from colourful reef fish species to turtles, sea cucumbers to cushion stars and spiny urchins to octopuses. By the end of your programme you will be capable of identifying a wide range of colourful and patterned reef organisms, as well as being an experienced and competent diver. Although the work is intense and challenging you'll get immense satisfaction from having survived and from having made a valuable contribution to the conservation of this marine environment. Volunteers who join the programme for less than 4 weeks will not be able to participate in the full range of programme activities and surveys, but will still be able to make a valuable contribution to the work. You will return home with vast numbers of photos, lots of new friends, a wealth of fascinating stories and extraordinary memories.
You'll find your team to be a fun, dynamic mix of ages and experiences, with members who all share a passion about travelling in developing countries and conserving nature. Your staff will be a friendly and welcoming group who are highly experienced in their research field and many of whom will have been Frontier volunteers at an earlier stage in their career.
0630: Mangrove bird survey
0700: Breakfast! - possibly warm bread, cebada (rice porridge), or sandwiches
0730: On the boat for survey diving or dive training
1200: Lunch time: beans with veg and rice (and soy sauce!)
1330: Beach clean
1500: Snorkel search for invertebrates or reef clean at the local reef
1630: Revision, presentation or quiz time
1800: Dinner time - time to revise the days activities and relax with a hearty meal of rice and beans!
*This itinerary should only be considered as an example of the kind of activities and timescales to expect. Actual itineraries may vary depending on the season and the requirements of the project.
The Frontier-Madagascar camp is fun and in your spare time you'll have opportunities to swim and snorkel, play football against the unbeatable local side or try out beach volleyball.
Alternatively you may enjoy a traditional Saturday night themed camp party, play backgammon, poker or chess, or join in a camp quiz night.
After a long hard day of sailing and diving you may prefer to relax with a drink and sway in the camp hammock, or sit around the campfire and chat to your new friends.
Please note that the PADI Open Water and Advanced Open Water qualification costs are not included in the placement cost. You can take these qualifications (among other advanced qualifications) with Frontier while on your placement at an extra cost.
Airport pickup on first Monday of the month. Alternative start dates available.
Volunteers will ne living in a communal beach housing.
Locally sourced produce including rice, beans, vegetables and fruit. Most diets can be catered for.