Marine Conservation & Dive Master

Mozambique

A fantastic opportunity to combine marine conservation volunteering with a professional Dive Master course. Study manta rays and whale sharks up close and learn more about endangered marine species. Mozambique is one of the Top 10 dive locations in the world and is the perfect spot to take your diving to the next level.

This programme combines volunteering in one of Africa’s most spectacular beachside settings with an internship where you will train as a professional Dive Master. Spend a couple of months living next to the ocean, studying manta rays and whale sharks and honing your skills as a newly qualified Dive Master. 

As a volunteer you will support the permanent Marine Biologists in their studies of whale shark, manta ray and marine turtle species. Southern Mozambique is home to large populations of these species and is also an important refuge for other threatened marine species like the elusive dugong. Enjoy humpback whale sitings during the June - September migration season as they pass by the waters right in front of your lodge. You will participate in in marine field work such as taking identification photo’s, checking acoustic listening stations, observing environmental conditions, tagging animals, taking tissue samples and measuring ocean giants. All the quantitative data you collect is used for specific research projects, designed to protect and preserve these amazing marine animals.

You will do your Dive Master internship at an amazing dive school located right on the beach. You will do as many dives as possible during your time and leave fully qualified to work and lead dives in any dive centre worldwide, plus you will have had an incredible and unforgettable African experience.

Quick Facts

Who can join: Anyone aged 18 years and over who holds at least an Open Water Dive Certification
How long can I stay for: minimum stay 8 weeks (up to 16 weeks)
Accommodation: Volunteer lodge - twin rooms
Transfer time: 30 minutes
Pick up from: Inhambane
Meals: 3 meals a day included
Project numbers: 10
Start dates: Any Monday througout the year excluding 20 - 31 December (but start dates are very flexible!)
How much: from $6,365 (8 weeks)

WHY CHOOSE THIS PROJECT?

Join world-renowned marine biologists and scientists as they continue their work on the conservation of marine mega-fauna such as whale sharks and manta rays. Dive in some of the most beautiful waters in the world as you complete your Dive Master certification.

Background

This programme is based in Praia do Tofo in Southern Mozambique. It was developed by an experienced manta ray biologist and a whale shark conservation biologist who spent the last decade conducting their Marine Foundation research in Tofo’s serene waters.

The marine conservation programme is a structured volunteer program aimed at involving citizen scientists in the world-class scientific research and marine conservation work being conducted in the vibrant waters of southern Mozambique. Volunteers are coordinated by a highly-qualified scientist and work directly with world-leading experts in the fields of marine biology, ecology, oceanography and wildlife conservation. This project delivers a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity for each participant to enrich their lives and optimise their career paths.

On this unique Dive Master course, once you have completed your 4-week volunteer experience you will do a one or two month internship with a local diving school, where you will complete your Dive Master certification, qualifying you to lead dives anywhere in the world.

This is an amazing opportunity to dive in one of the world's best scuba diving locations, assist in a specialist marine conservation programme AND improve your own diving skills.

Highlights

Programme Highlights

  • Dive the clear, crystalline waters of the Indian Ocean and experience one of the top 10 dive locations in the worldT
  • Train at an awesome dive school with a great atmosphere - they have some of the best whale shark trackers in the world on their team
  • Learn from experienced marine biologists and scientists and assist with their research projects
  • Get close to some of the ocean's most incredible creatures as you dive alongside whale sharks, huge manta rays and even the rare guitar shark
  • Learn new research techniques and work alongside marine scientists as they conduct their research
  • Snorkel amazing coral reefs and learn to identify fishes and other sea creatures
  • Optional surfing, ocean kayaking, sea fishing and other amazing activities on offer
  • Live right on the beach and enjoy the local Mozambican seafood and hospitality

What sort of things will I be doing?

As a volunteer you will help gather information about whale sharks, manta rays, marine turtles, humpback whales and other marine wildlife, depending on the season. This data is used by biologists to study the conservation of the threatened species and analyse environmental conditions.

Diving and Snorkelling

Southern Mozambique is one of the top 10 scuba-diving and snorkelling locations in the world and Tofo is one of the best in Mozambique!  During your programme you will usually undertake 4 research dives or ocean snorkel safaris per week accompanied by qualified dive instructors and programme researchers.

- Megafauna research dives and snorkel safaris - manta rays and whale sharks

In the last decade more than 800 manta rays have been identified in Tofo, and the Mozambican manta database is the second largest in the world.
Tofo is also a global hotspot for the whale shark, the world’s largest fish. Researchers have identified more than 600 whale sharks in the Mozambican waters.

  • Join researchers to collect valuable field data to assist their scientific studies on manta rays and whale sharks
  • Take identification photos and monitor behaviour
  • Check acoustic listening stations
  • Observe and record environmental conditions
  • Gather GPS locations, segregation and sex of whale sharks
  • Tag animals and collect tissue samples
  • Measure these amazing ocean giants using laser technology

- Turtle research (Nov - Feb)

All marine turtle species in Mozambique are globally endangered. Loggerhead, leatherback and hawksbill turtles are sighted in the water, however nesting grounds have declined rapidly due to poaching. There is little information available on turtle ecology and poaching activity and volunteers contribute by photo IDing turtles and adding them to the Mozambique turtle database.

- Humpback Whale Research (June - September)

Humpback whales make annual journeys from Antarctica to the East African coast, as far north as Tanzania, where they mate and calf. In the African winter, hundreds of humpback whales are seen in the waters in and around Tofo. Without the presence of predators in the water they seem extremely playful and you can watch them play from the shore and the volunteer house.

You will not normally dive or snorkel near humpback whales as they can become very aggressive if they feel their calves are threatened.

In addition to collecting data on the above marine megafauna, you will also gather information on other threatened species in the area including dugongs, bowmouth guitar sharks and stingrays.

Data recording, analysis and maintenance of equipment

  • Assist researchers and scientists with the preparation of acoustic listening stations and tags
  • Help process tissue samples
  • Set up camera equipment to measure the size of whale sharks
  • Record megafauna behaviour, plankton density and environmental conditions
  • Add your identification photos to the online database

Remember! We cannot guarantee that you will encounter a manta ray or whale shark, but the area you will be diving is famous for sighting them, so there is a very good chance that you will see these magnificent creatures at least once.

Estuary tours

  • Explore Inhambane estuary by local sailing boat (dhow)
  • Witness flamingos, seahorses and stunning macro life
  • Find scorpion fish, lion fish, frog fish and crabs

Community Outreach

Successful conservation relies as much on community work as scientific research. More than 60% of Mozambique’s population live in coastal areas, which places significant pressure on the marine environment. Many species are vulnerable to illegal poaching, many Mozambicans fear the sea and the majority cannot swim.

You will get involved with Mozambique's flagship coastal community outreach programme, which, through teaching children how to protect and live with the sea, aims to create Ocean Guardians who have compassion for their marine environment. Since its inception in 2012, the programme has reached more than 700 young Mozambicans, some of which have gone on to train within the marine tourism industry.

  • Assist local instructors to assist children in water safety, surfing, snorkelling and ocean safaris
  • Help to create marine biology, ecology and conservation classes, participate in rock pool exploration and help with beach clean-ups
  • Play water polo with the advanced swimmers and teach the younger children the basics
  • Participate in Creature Feature - pick your favourite marine animal and work with teachers to get the children excited!
  • Help in the creation of a children’s marine conservation book to be used as a study aid for local children and the community

Cultural Exchange

The volunteer lodge is situated right on Tofo’s main swimming beach and boasts amazing views over the bay. It is the perfect location to explore the Inhambane province and some of Mozambique’s unique culture.

  • Enjoy a dhow tour of the beautiful estuary surrounding Inhambane where you can find sea stars, sea moths and sea horses, all while snorkelling
  • Visit Pandane, which boasts one of the best snorkelling reefs in Mozambique and Inhambane City with its beautiful rustic architecture

Rescue Diver and EFR

Scuba divers describe the Rescue Diver course as the most challenging, yet most rewarding course they’ve ever taken. Why? Because you learn to prevent and manage problems in the water, and become more confident in your skills as a diver, knowing that you can help others if needed.

The Rescue Diver course prepares you to deal with minor and major dive emergencies using a variety of techniques. Through knowledge development and rescue exercises, you learn what to look for and how to respond. During rescue scenarios, you put into practice your knowledge and skills.

You will also complete your Emergency First Response training where you will learn the essential steps for emergency care, and practice applying skills in a nonstressful learning environment. 

Topics include:

  • Self rescue
  • Recognizing and managing stress in other divers
  • Emergency management and equipment
  • Rescuing panicked divers
  • Rescuing unresponsive divers
  • Primary and secondary care for emergency and non life-threatening situations
  • CPR and first aid

Dive Master Certification

The Dive Master certificate is your first level of professional training. You’ll fine-tune your dive skills, like perfecting the effortless hover, and refine your rescue skills so you anticipate and easily solve common problems. You’ll gain dive knowledge, management and supervision abilities so you become a role model to divers everywhere.

Through waterskills exercises and workshops, and hands-on practical assessment, you develop the skills to organize and direct a variety of scuba diving activities. Topics and practical workshops include:

  • Supervising dive activities and assisting with student divers
  • Diver safety and risk management
  • Dive Master conducted programs and specialised skills
  • Business of diving and your career
  • Awareness of the dive environment
  • Dive setup and management
  • Mapping an open water site
  • Conducting dive briefings
  • Organising a search and recovery project and a deep dive
  • Conducting a scuba review and skin diver course

You may be able to get college credit for the Rescue Diver and Dive Master courses – ask your instructor for more details.

Whether you want to work at a faraway dive destination or close to home at a local dive shop, the adventure of a lifetime awaits you!

Details

Do I need any experience to volunteer on this programme?

You will need to be at least Open Water Certified to take part in this combination programme. There are no specific age restrictions but we are looking for fit, adventurous, enthusiastic people over the age of 18. This programme is ideal for students pursuing a career in marine biology, scuba divers who want to experience one of the world's best diving locations and perfect their diving skills, or beginner divers who want to combine volunteering with dive training.

How do I get to the project?

Included in your project fee is a return transfer from Inhambane airport to the project (approximately 30km).

A day in the life

Regardless of your diving experience, every volunteer receives a 2-day diving induction with the research co-ordinator when they arrive. IIf you are an Open Water Diver already, you will complete your Advanced Certification during your volunteer programme, which is included in the project price. 

If you are already an Advanced Diver or have Rescue and EFR certification, you will start your volunteer programme immediately after your induction.

Everybody will get training in underwater photography to ensure your ID photos are usable.

Week days are usually from 0730 - 1500 with weekends off. Occasional weekend work will be required during events such as beach clean-ups, whale shark feeding frenzies or manta / dolphin / turtle beaching, but these are all well worth it!

Volunteers scuba dive 4 times a week and a normal diving day may be as follows:

0700 - breakfast at the volunteer house
0730 - meet at the dive shop and kit up with the dive instructor and researchers. Go diving! Collect data, observe the marine wildlife and take ID photos
1030 - head back to the volunteer house and office for a debrief and enter the new data into the databases
1230 - lunch
1330 - depending on the time of year, you may carry out whale-watching from the shore, prepare for the night / next day activity, work on crafts and activities for the children or prepare creature features for the community programme.
1500 - end of the working day when you can chill on the beach, go for a walk, surf, swim or relax at the house.

Do I get some time off?

In your downtime you’ll have the change to participate in some traditional Mozambican dancing lessons, join the local surfers in front of your doorstep, find some inner peace during weekly yoga sessions and go horse riding on the endless Tofo beach. You can also join a whale watching trip, visit the beautiful beaches of Tofinho or snorkel in the estuary.

Go surfing!

Tofo is the perfect place to learn to surf, with long waves which are easy to ride. For experienced surfers there are lots of advanced surfing spots which will challenge even the most expert surfer. The best news is that the surfing is amazing all year round!

Sunset Braais

Your home is on the corner of Tofo bay with amazing views of the beach and the sea. With stairs leading directly onto the white sandy beach, it is the ideal setting for beach braais. What better than fresh fish, crayfish, the sand under your feet, stars twinkling and a cold beer in your hand!

Rates and Dates

When can I volunteer?

Volunteers can join this marine conservation and diver training programme for 8-12 weeks depending on your experience. You can join the programme at any time during the year, please just enquire for current availability and training dates. You will join the other volunteers when you arrive, once you have had your induction and training.

Itineraries:

There are two options for this combination conservation and dive training programme:

Option 1: Open Water and Advanced certified divers - 12 weeks

Weeks 1 - 4
Marine conservation volunteer programme during which you will also gain your Advanced diving certification if required.
Weeks 5 - 12
2 month internship where you will obtain your Rescue and EFR dive qualifcation and Dive Masters certificate. You will complete the required number of dives needed to gain your certification and will also have the opportunity to join the normal volunteer programme on some of their research dives and activities where time allows.

Price: $9,273

Option 2: Rescue and EFR divers - 8 weeks

Weeks 1 - 4
Marine conservation volunteer programme joining the research team on deep dives, normal research dives and environmental monitoring activities.
Weeks 5 - 8
1 month internship (with the option to extend) where you will obtain your Dive Masters certificate. 

Price: $6,485

What does the cost include?

  • All rental equipment, study materials and registrations for your certifications
  • Programme fee - financing which goes back into the programme; this includes funding for equipment, supplies, vehicles and foodstuffs as well as a contribution to the Marine Foundation you will be working for
  • Return transfers from Inhambane to the project
  • Full board and lodging for the duration of your volunteer programme and internship, including laundry and housekeeping (exc. alcoholic and fizzy drinks)
  • Advanced Certification (if required), Rescue & EFR certification and Dive Master
  • All diving and snorkelling equipment (wetsuits, masks etc) required to do the programme and course (you may bring your own equipment if you wish)
  • Practical instruction on identification and research techniques
  • All programme-related transport
  • 24 hour support and guidance from the volunteer programme staff, researchers and instructors
  • Internet at the volunteer house (streaming, Skype and video downloading is not allowed)

What does the cost exclude?

  • Return flights or transport to Inhambane, Mozambique
  • Visa fees (if applicable)
  • Any expenses prior to your programme start date
  • Any personal items such as alcoholic drinks, snacks, additional food or souvenirs
  • Personal medical and travel insurance, which must cover the entire duration of your programme, must include 30m depth diving cover and should include cover for repatriation and air evacuation
  • Any additional trips, meals or excursions outside the volunteer programme

View our booking terms and conditions

Accommodation

Marine conservation volunteers and Dive Master interns are based in Praia do Tofo, Mozambique, living literally on the beach. Tofo is a vibrant little town characterised by local markets, friendly people and the stunning coastline and beach.

Volunteers live in a private house with a breath-taking view over Tofo’s main beach, equipped with all the necessary amenities - kitchen, shared bathrooms, computer and internet connection. You will stay in comfortable twin rooms with a maximum of 10 volunteers staying at any one time. The Foundation’s headquarters are located within the lodge grounds, only steps away from the beach. Accommodation is of a good standard and blends into the coastal dune setting, with most furnishings made out of locally sourced natural materials.

You will receive three lovely wholesome meals a day during your course. You may eat at the lodge restaurant and sometimes there will be a braai. All your food is cooked fresh every day and there tends to be a lot of seafood eaten. Tofo is quite remote so a lot of food supplies are brought in weekly. If you do not eat seafood or have any dietary requirements, please let us know so we can arrange other options for you.

Destination

Volunteering in Mozambique

This enigmatic African country is unfailingly rewarding - with untouched beaches and vibrant, welcoming people, Mozambique has something for even the most adventurous traveller. With colonial-style architecture in Maputo, remote archipelagos in the north, pounding surf in the south and graceful dhows with billowing sails up and down the coastline, visitors to this vast country are rarely disappointed.

Maputo - only 120 kilometers from the South African border, Mozambique's coastal capital feels like a different world. An intriguing mixture of European and African influences, Maputo is home to crumbling colonial buildings, lively markets, wide avenues named after communist leaders, art deco apartments the colour of fruit sorbets and a vibrant live music scene.

It has eclectic architecture, including the century-old elegant CFM Train Station, which made an appearance in the movie "Blood Diamond" and is home to Kampfumo, Maputo's most unusual bar, sandwiched between two platforms. Also well worth a look is the Casa de Ferro, a bizarre-looking metal house designed by Gustav Eiffel.

Most visitors to Mozambique do not linger in Maputo, instead heading for the 2,500km coastline which stretches from Tanzania down to South Africa.

Tofo and its tiny neighbour, Tofino, in Southern Mozambique, are vibrant fishing villages 30km from the town of Inhambane. Tofo has long been a favoured backpackers destination and has a couple of dive schools, several lodges and guest houses and a number of restaurants and bars. Most tourists come to Tofo to enjoy the large populations of whale sharks and manta rays, catch some waves, relax on the beach and interact at the lively markets. You can also take part in kite-surfing, horse riding and beach yoga.

Moving further north is the Bazaruto Archipelago, a group of five idyllic paradise islands 10-20 km off the coast, near the mainland city of Vilankulos. The Archipelago is one of the most beautiful destinations in Africa, with the islands and the surrounding coral reef protected as a conservation area and national park. It is the only marine nature reserve in Mozambique. Known as the Pearl of the Indian Ocean, the pristine and untouched beaches are well worthy of the name. Flights to Bazaruto are available from Inhambane, Maputo or Johannesburg or you can take snorkelling and diving day trips from Vilankulos.

Gorongosa National Park is located at the southern end of the Great East African Rift Valley. The 4,000 square km park includes the valley floor and surrounding plateaus and is home to all of Africa’s Big 5, excluding rhino. The birdlife in Gorongosa is fantastic, with many endemic species prized by birders.

The Quirimbas Archipelago in Northern Mozambique is a chain of 30 islands stretching from Pemba to the town of Palma, in the north. The islands are one of the world’s best fishing and diving destinations, with phenomenal vertical drop-offs of up to 400m.

While in Mozambique, DO:
- Scuba diving
- A dhow safari
- A snorkelling day trip to Bazaruto from Vilankulos
- Game fishing - the Mozambique coast is ranked as the best Black Marlin destination in the eastern Indian Ocean.
- A horse safari - with long sandy beaches and magnificent views, a horse safari is a very special way to enjoy Mozambique’s coastal beauty.

What will the weather be like?

Almost all of Mozambique falls within the tropics and as such, Mozambique features a mostly tropical climate. Along the coast Mozambique has a warm, tropical climate. Evenings are rarely cold, except for a few nights in June and July and the rainfall isn't too high. In summer (October - March), temperatures can soar and the humidity levels rise. 

Temperatures are typically higher in the north, around Pemba and around the Zambezi River.

Excursions

Do I get some time off?

In your downtime you’ll have the change to participate in some traditional Mozambican dancing lessons, join the local surfers and kitesurfers in front of your doorstep, find some inner peace during weekly yoga sessions and go horse riding on the endless Tofo beach.

Go surfing!

Tofo is the perfect place to learn to surf with long waves which are easy to ride. For experienced surfers there are lots of advanced surfing spots which will challenge even the most expert surfer! The best news is that the surfing is amazing all year round!

Sunset Braais

Your home is on the corner of Tofo bay with amazing views of the beach and the sea. With stairs leading directly onto the white sandy beach, it is the ideal setting for beach braais. What better than fresh fish, crayfish, the sand under your feet, stars twinkling and a cold beer in your hand!

Tofo is relatively remote but it is well worth taking a trip to Inhambane City to see the historic colonial architecture.

With the beach on your doorstep and fantastic beach and water activities on offer, you will never be bored!

Send an enquiry

 

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