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The Gap Year Blog

My Life As A Research Assistant - Into The Wild Blog - Frontier

4 Oct 2017 14:40 PM

I’m now at the end of my placement here, and what an experience it has been! For the past month, I’ve been a Research Officer for the marine conservation and diving project on the Frontier camp based on Mafia Island, Tanzania.

Having just graduated from York University with an Environment, Economics and Ecology degree, I wanted gain experience working in marine conservation, while continuing to develop my scuba diving, so I could do my dive master in future.

I’ve previously volunteered with Frontier before, for a month on the marine conservation and diving project in Belize. It was an incredible month, where I completed my advanced open water and worked with the fisheries department doing Queen Conch and marine surveys. After volunteering with them before and needing more practical experience, I decided that this job would be a great opportunity. I chose Tanzania because I have volunteered in Africa before and fell in love with this continent. The marine life in Tanzania is famous for being diverse and, Mafia Island in particular, is a hot spot for whale sharks.

The most challenging thing about my trip has been with the immigration and visa office! As a developing country, the immigration laws change regularly and what type of visas you can get. As a result, there is often confusion and complications. Luckily everyone bands together and helps each other out on the projects which is what made starting a new project easier. With this in mind, my top tip for travelling in a developing country is to always have multiple copies of your passport, and of course, to split your money into different places.

My favourite aspect of the trip so far has been the diving and seeing the array of marine life around Mafia Island. My highlight has to be going to see the turtle hatching at a small island just off Mafia Island called Juani. We took a boat over and walked across to a beach where turtles come back to every year to lay their eggs. It was incredible to see the turtles hatching and watch as they make their way to the ocean. While we were there we also did a quick beach clean. One of the major problems in Tanzania is the lack of waste management, especially with the over use of plastic bags. As a result, this beach is often covered in litter, which can prevent turtles from laying their eggs.

From my experience here I have gained more confidence in travelling on my own in a developing country, though it still makes me nervous. I am more confident in my ability to figure out situations and get from A to B. I have also reconfirmed my ambition to carry on with my diving training and do my dive master.

By Amy Kennedy - Tanzania Marine and Diving Volunteer

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By Amy Kennedy - Tanzania Marine and Diving Volunteer