Global Nomadic

Marine Research & Whale Shark Conservation

Tofo Beach, Mozambique show on map

Agency | Global Nomadic

This programme provides valuable hands-on research experience alongside our experienced staff in well-equipped research centres & access to unique ecosystems & wildlife. This volunteer program is especially suitable for:

This programme provides valuable hands-on research experience alongside our experienced staff in well-equipped research centres and access to unique ecosystems and wildlife. You will get the opportunity to carry out marine research and monitoring activities under the guidance of our co-ordinating programme scientists. You will join other interns on the project to collect data via scuba dives, ocean safaris and beach walks off the Tofo coastline. You can look forward to excellent diving, snorkelling and beach experiences while gaining first-hand marine research skills and contributing to this worthwhile project.

As a volunteer, you can get involved in a multitude of research projects including monitoring whale shark numbers, behaviour and ecology and taking underwater photographs, monitoring the condition of the coral reefs and indicator species of reef fish. You will be trained on how to take identification photographs of manta rays and other threatened marine species in order to assess and monitor their population. Depending on the time of year you may assist in various indicators of the health of the marine biodiversity such as surveying humpback whale numbers and the turtle nesting activity. Our coordinating programme scientists will train you in assisting with data collection. You can also help out with cleaning up beaches and other general environmental activities in addition to uploading and analyzing data.

Many of the programme activities require you to be able or be ready to learn how to scuba dive. In order to facilitate this, there is an internationally recognized open or advanced diving course included in the cost of the program (not included in the two week option). Also, you need to be capable to snorkel and to swim unassisted for 100 m. It would be an advantage if you can hold your breath while diving but it is not a requirement.

This programme involves conducting research and conservation activities with different species. Some are conducted at specific times of the year and other are conducted all year round. Our coordinating programme scientists will accompany you on scuba dives and ocean safaris to assist with data collection.

Whale Shark (throughout the year)
This part of the programme involves joining ocean safaris to snorkel with whale sharks as well as taking underwater photographs for identifying whale sharks and recording ecological information. The types of information collected include date, GPS location, surface and underwater conditions, size, sex, distinctive features, behaviour of the whale sharks. The ID photographs help identify each whale shark and record re-sightings.

Dolphin (throughout the year)
You will be collecting data which allows the dolphin numbers and behaviour to be recorded and uploaded into databases shared with our Marine Partners. Dolphin behaviour is of particular interest as it relates to tourism.

Coral Reef and Fish (throughout the year)
Coral reef monitoring involves joining scuba diving and carrying out underwater data collection about indicator species of coral fish and the condition of corals and echinoderms on the reefs. The research may involve recording indicator species of reef fish, collecting ID photos of megafauna including mantas, turtles and leopard sharks, collecting photos of nudibranches to help develop a species list for Mozambique.

Turtles (November to March)
The activities include surveying turtle survival and monitoring the nesting of turtles on the beaches around Tofo. The surveys involve working to patrol the beaches, recording nest sites, finding shells/sizing them and taking GPS points for data collection, monitoring fishermen and visiting nests during hatching season to record hatching success.

Seahorses (throughout the year)
This part of the project involves traveling to the Inhambane estuary and snorkeling in relatively shallow waters in order to evaluate and monitor the seahorse population which includes counting seahorses, identifying the size of seahorses by taking photos, entering data into a database for analysis.

Humpback Whales (June – October)
You may help with monitoring the numbers of humpback whales during their seasonal migration. You will participate in sand dune based observations with binoculars, boat based observations to record the number of whales, observing their behaviour.

General environment (throughout the year)
A more general environmental awareness and clean-up activities include collecting information during field work, collating it in a computer database on-site and online, uploading some data onto an international database where international contributors can access it and use for scientific journals and theses.

Working at one or several of the centres may involve assisting teachers, preparing lessons, assisting with meals, conducting games during break times, assisting preschool children how to swim in the pool and growing their confidence, assisting with extracurricular English lessons in a local primary school which enhances potential job opportunities.

Additional information

  • If you are taking Lariam/Mefloquine/Mephliam/Tropicure (or any other derivatives) as anti-malarial treatment (prophylaxis) you will not be permitted to dive, as it causes increased risks when diving. Please inform your doctor that you are going on a dive holiday, and request another suitable anti-malarial treatment.
  • Accredited divers must bring their dive cards (listing their last logged dive) with them as proof.
  • Dive accredited volunteers not requiring/wanting a dive course but who have not logged a dive within the last 6 months will need to complete a Scuba Review before they can participate in research dives. The cost of a Scuba Review is not included in the project cost, and a small fee will be paid locally for this directly to our partnering Dive Centre.
  • The open water certificate qualifies volunteers to dive up to 18 meters, and some of the dive sites are between 20-30 meters deep. It is not required to dive at these deeper sites, but if you wish to participate in deep diving (up to 30 meters) you will either need to complete a Deep Dive course at a small additional cost, or you can choose to complete an Advanced Water Course at an additional cost.
  • Ask for our fish-list if you would like a head start on understanding all the different species that you will be seeing on your dives!

Typical day

Our staff will welcome you at Inhambane Airport and transfer you to your accommodation. Your second day will start with a presentation by the co-ordinating scientists which will prepare you for the programme. After that you will get an introduction to Tofo and the nearby city of Inhambane. You will start your open water scuba diving course which will last between 4 and 7 days depending on the conditions. This is an internationally accredited course and upon completion you will get a certificate permitting you to scuba dive to 18 m anywhere in the world. If you already hold an open water course, you will complete an advanced dive course qualifying you to dive to 30 m. After the course is completed you will focus on the programme activities.

If you are volunteering for two weeks and already have both open and advanced dive qualifications you will receive additional research dives or ocean safaris. You will begin the activities from day 8-13.

After your scuba classes you will have the opportunity to listen to interesting educational talks on the fascinating mega fauna with which you will be swimming over the next few weeks including how to identify different kinds of fish species.

On days 6-7 and all other weekends, you will have the time to explore the stunning palm-fringed beaches of Tofo - you can relax, swim, surf and enjoy the area. During the first weekend you can also complete your open or advanced certificate.

Once your dive course is completed you will officially be an assistant scientist. On days 8-12 and all other weekdays you will do dives.

You can start your day with the sunshine and a good breakfast! Afterwards, you will prepare your research dive - get your equipment together and head to one of the dive sites, and conduct research including fish and manta ray surveys. You may also go on an ocean safari and go searching for whale sharks and dolphins to photo ID and record their behavioural data. At 12:30 you can either return to the accommodation for lunch or eat a packed lunch brought with you. At 14:00 you can go to the office and enter data into the database from the research work you did in the morning. Depending on the time of year you may be collecting data on humpback whales, uploading photo IDs into the database, conducting turtle nest surveys or improving the beach environment by clean-up collection. You will return to the accommodation to share your experiences with the other volunteers and perhaps go for a swim in the ocean. A delicious dinner and time to relax will await you.
If you have signed up for a 2 week option, then day 15 will be your day to leave the lodge and transfer to Imhambane Airport to fly home. Our team will take care of your airport transfer if you leave on your designated day.

If you have chosen a 2 week plus option, you will continue on your project as described for days 8-12 and enjoy Mozambique a little longer!

Details on Arrival

Start Dates: There are start dates on the first Monday of each month from January to October.

Our staff will welcome you at Inhambane Airport and transfer you to your accommodation. 

Prior to or upon arrival you can also add a trip to Kruger National Park (3-5 night camping safaris), surfing or yoga lessons on the beach.

Free-time activities

The weekends are off, so you will have the time to explore the stunning palm-fringed beaches of Tofo - you can relax, swim, surf and enjoy the area. During the first weekend you can also complete your open or advanced certificate.

Water Sports

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) or if your are accompanied by your parents.
Language Skills
You need to speak English (intermediate level)
Nationality Restrictions
No restrictions. Helping hands from all over the world are welcome.
Other Skills
Be open minded, patient, adaptable and willing to embrace the challenges of the programme;
have a positive attitude towards living in a rural setting and working in a team;
good mental and physical health and an appropriate level of fitness.
Time Commitment
Your helping hand will be required on Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday and Friday

Included Services

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We refund your fees if Global Nomadic cancels your trip
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Our services are free of charge!
All program fees are charged directly by Global Nomadic.

Before your journey

Profound consulting and ongoing support (free)
Global Nomadic (your host organization) provides consulting and is keen to answer all your questions. Once you reserved your spot, you will receive the contact details of your volunteer project.
Online preparation course (optional, from $49)
Prepare yourself and become a confident and well informed traveler. Global Travel Academy takes you on a journey before you leave home, helping you to become one of the world's greatest travelers. Our trusted partner for online learning offers courses in "International Volunteering", "Travel Health & Safety" and "Travel Safety Abroad".

On-site services

Services by Global Nomadic
  • accommodation
  • food
  • airport pickup
  • orientation
  • in-country support
  • programme activities
Only 4+ week volunteers will participate in the PADI scuba course. (less than 4 week volunteers will participate only in surface water activities for surface sighting research and will not participate in dives).

The prices in $ USD are approximate due to currency conversions and all payments incur a 5% bank transfer fee.
Airport Pickup at Inhambane Airport

We will pick you up and drop you off at the Imhambane Airport.


During your experience you will be staying at the Albatroz Lodge nestled at the top of the sand dunes next to the project’s office and the dive centre, just a few steps away from the spectacular Tofo Beach. The accommodation is dorm style (with bunk beds) in chalets with traditional thatched roofs, open living areas and ample room to relax outside. They sleep 4 and 12 people with mattresses, mosquito nets, sheets and pillows provided. There is electricity and running drinkable water. The toilets and showers are shared. There are communal living spaces in each chalet, a relaxation area and a swimming pool where many wonderful moments can be shared.

The Albatroz Lodge is a short walk away from Tofo village where you can find a market, some shops, restaurants and bars. Inhambane, the nearest town, is an hour away with public transport.

Dorm Room
Food & Beverages
While on the programme, you will enjoy three meals a day at the Albatroz Lodge’s restaurant overlooking the swimming pool. For breakfast you can choose from cereals, bread, fruit, yogurt, eggs and spreads. Lunch includes sandwiches, salads, omelettes and pasta. Dinner is a cooked meal which may be pasta, a local dish or stew. The meals are local and fresh and will be part of your cultural experience. Vegetarian diets and most food allergies can be taken into consideration.
Internet Access
Good 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 Inhambane Airport (INH) in Inhambane. 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.
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
2 weeks (min. stay)
$ 1,849
3 weeks
$ 2,537
4 weeks
$ 2,863
6 weeks
$ 3,775
8 weeks
$ 4,322
10 weeks
$ 5,144
12 weeks (max. stay)
$ 5,967
Average fees
$ 711 /week

You can volunteer at the project site in Tofo Beach/Mozambique between 2 weeks and 12 weeks. Please note that the above shown program fees are estimated and subject to exchange rate fluctuations. Global Nomadic 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 will be agreed with Global Nomadic during the application process. Common solutions are either via bank transfer or a cash payment at the project site.

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