Scuba dive and survey on a protected marine reserve and experience one of Tanzania's most beautiful and exclusive locations.
About the Programme
Tanzania's coast is home to some of the most spectacular diving in the world. The crystal clear waters host a wealth of marine habitats and wildlife, making this a perfect location to scuba dive and explore this pristine and magical underwater world.
The vivid, multi-hued coral reefs support a dazzling array of tropical reef fish and provide rich feeding grounds for turtles, rays and other marine creatures, whilst the deep blue offshore waters support sharks, dolphins and whale sharks, as well as vast shoals of cruising pelagics.
Dive and snorkel to explore this pristine seascape and you'll discover and possibly help to map extensive areas of undamaged coral, find healthy populations of multicoloured fish, see turtles and marine mammals, and learn to recognise a huge diversity of inter-tidal animals from tiny hermit crabs to pastel-hued anemones.
On shore apart from relaxing on the island's perfect, undeveloped beaches, you may have the chance to work in the lush mangrove forests, unique ecosystems which straddle water and land. You'll learn about the activities of the traditional fishermen, as well as discovering and reporting which marine organisms are being sustainably harvested and which are being dangerously depleted.
The work you carry out will be rewarding and exciting, and hugely beneficial to Marine Park's conservation efforts, as well as being amazing fun! At the end of the day you will gain immense satisfaction from knowing that you have helped to save this precious marine wilderness, protecting it for future generations.
Migrating Humpback Whales & Whale Sharks
Mafia Island is about as close as you can get to the quintessential Indian Ocean tropical paradise. The tiny island of about 40,000 is a friendly, laid-back place that has long been praised as a diver and sea angler's paradise.
Mafia's luxuriant mangroves, luminous sea grass beds and dazzling coral reefs play host to a multitude of tropical reef fish, thorny and spotted seahorses and four species of graceful and gentle sea turtles. Offshore there are dolphins and rays, and the deeper waters are a regular stop-off for migrating humpback whales and giant whale sharks. You could experience all this when you join the Frontier camp on Mafia Island and learn to dive in the crystal clear, immaculate waters of Tanzania's exclusive Marine Park.
If you are joining this programme between November and January then you may have the opportunity to conduct surveys on the transient whale shark population. You may be recording details of sightings and monitoring returning whale sharks. Volunteers may also have the opportunity to conduct awareness raising activities with tourists visiting Mafia Island.
Dynamite Fishing Damaging Coral
Threats to the coastal environment on and around Mafia Island are on the up as unregulated tourism is on the increase and the level of the local population is rising. Increasing competition for food means that artisanal fishing techniques such as seine-netting become inadequate and inefficient, encouraging use of less discriminate catch practices such as dynamite fishing. Other threats include the over-harvesting of octopus and sea cucumbers and the over-collecting of shells and corals for the expanding marine curio trade.
Swim with Dolphins, Rays & Turtles
Your underwater exploration will involve you in mapping the incredible biodiversity of the coastal area and marine habitats. While diving you will locate and record spectacular coral reefs and survey dazzling reef fish and turtles. If you are there at the right time of year you may even observe marine mammals.
The marine research and conservation programme is run in association with the Mafia Island Marine Park. The programme provides the local communities and government bodies with the information they need to sustainably manage this priceless marine ecosystem preserving it for future generations. To gather the data needed you will dive, locate and map the extensive coral reefs and study the various communities existing on them.
Living and working in an internationally recognized marine protected area will give you access to a fantastic array of wildlife and ecosystems. You may have the opportunity to dive on habitats untouched by destructive fishing practices, and help monitor the success of a variety of conservation methods. The data collected on our commercial fish surveys aids the marine park in maintaining the most up to date and dynamic management plans for the future of the region, so we can be confident that Mafia Island will remain a stunning destination for many years.
7:00 - Breakfast!
8:00 - Dive duty
9:00 - On the boat for survey diving or dive training
14:00 - Return to camp. Wash dive kit and hang up to dry
14:30 - Lunch
15:30 - Write up data
16:30 - Invertebrate identification lecture
18:00 - Dinner time
19:00 - Chill out time
*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 programme.
The Frontier-Tanzania 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 poker, chess or backgammon or join in a camp quiz night.
After a long hard day of diving you may prefer to relax with a drink and sway in the camp hammock, or sit and chat to your new friends, under a sky lit up by millions of stars.
From Mafia Island airport if arriving on the first monday of the month. Other pickups can be arranged if required.
Volunteers will be living at commmunal traditional beach bandas.
Typically rice, beans, vegetables and fruit. Most alternative diets can be catered for.