WHAT DOES THE PROJECT DO?
An Exotic Island Paradise
165 million years of isolation have created a globally important biodiversity treasure with over 80% of species endemic to this island paradise. Frontier Madagascar’s conservation project is located on the island of Nosy Be in the northwest Mozambique Channel. Characterised by shallow continental shelf waters, the mangrove and coral reef ecosystems are home to a diverse array of associated fauna and flora and many charismatic and unique marine mega- and micro-fauna.
Population growth and removal of foreign aid has led to the coastal zones being under chronic stress from socioeconomic anthropogenic pressures. Increased deforestation causes sedimentation to the reefs and teh cutting down of mangroves for wood and building materials has removed many precious nursery areas for coral reef fauna.
The Malagasy government is now working with international conservation and aid agencies to halt this destruction and save the island's invaluable biodiversity and Frontier volunteers are an integral part of this effort.
Record Marine Biodiversity
Through SCUBA and snorkel surveys you will measure coral cover, identify reef fish and invertebrates, study the behaviour of fish and possibly sight whale sharks. Diving under the supervision of a professional dive officer, you will become confident and comfortable underwater. By qualifying as part of the survey team you will assist in quantifying the different facets of coral reef diversity and community health, which assist in formulating future management plans.
Other activities include surveying mangroves, a vital buffer against storm surges caused by cyclones and important part of the coastal ecosystem, and regular beach cleans.
Malagasy Culture & Communities
Working alongside the Malagasy people will give you an insight into their extraordinary culture. You may even be invited to some of their ceremonies such as local weddings or the Donia street festival. Community work includes environmental awareness days in local schools to explain Frontier's work and interviewing local fishermen on their catches and opinions on the subject of reef health. The data from your investigations will supply vital information on the coastline for the Madagascan national programme.
WHAT WILL I BE DOING?
The marine research and conservation programme is run in association with L'Institut Halieutique et des Sciences Marine with whom Frontier has been in partnership since 2000. This research and conservation project 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 searches and beach cleans, 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 project. Your activities will involve recording the live coral cover and benthic make-up of the extensive, pristine coral reefs and studying the various communities existing on them. The number of dives completed each week on the project depends on the quarterly science plan and itinerary as set by the Frontier field staff.
As an intern, you will be given additional responsibilities to assist the running of the project and training of new volunteers. These include teaching volunteers the species surveyed, assessing volunteers to ensure quality of data collection and assisting in the day to day running of the diving programme.
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 seagrass 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 triggerfish and parrot fish, assessment of algal and coral cover to determine the extent of coral bleaching and damage, line intercept transects for benthic life and monitoring 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 project 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 got through it all and from having made a valuable contribution to the conservation of this marine environment. 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.