WHAT DOES THE PROJECT DO?
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 manta rays, and the deeper waters are a regular stop-off for migrating humpback whales and giant whale sharks. You can experience all this when you join the Frontier beach-camp on Mafia Island and learn to dive in the crystal clear, immaculate waters of Tanzania's exclusive Marine Park.
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 shark fins, 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, observe marine mammals and turtles, and examine the effects of dynamite fishing and global warming on the coral reefs.
Discover Swahili Culture
Sailing out on the traditional Frontier dhows you will dive from the boat and discover what it is like to sail on a traditional Tanzanian fishing vessel. Through participating in environmental awareness raising in local schools and community activities, you will experience the cultures and lifestyles of local peoples.
WHAT WILL I BE DOING?
The marine research and conservation programme is run in association with the Mafia Island Marine Park. The project 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.
You will also explore and record the living organisms that inhabit the luxuriant mangrove forests, dense sea grass beds and productive inter-tidals in the area. To do this you will use a wide range of newly learned research skills and scientific techniques including: underwater visual census of reef and commercial fish such as trigger fish and parrot fish, assessment of algal and coral cover to determine the extent of coral bleaching and damage, and line intercept transects for benthic life and indicator invertebrate species such as nudibranchs. You will observe the feeding habits and behaviour patterns of a range of marine life. You may even get to study the impact of dynamite fishing on the corals reefs, report the effects of global warming on marine communities or observe the impact of the marine-curio trade on endangered marine invertebrates.
Whilst diving, you'll see an extraordinary array of animals from turtles to sea cucumbers to feathery starfish, and spiny urchins to octopus. When you sail out each day on the Frontier sailing dhow to distant dive sites you may even be accompanied by dolphins or encounter gigantic Whale Sharks. By the end of your project you will be expert at identifying hundreds of coloured and patterned reef fish as well as being an experienced and competent diver. Although the work is intense and challenging you'll get immense satisfaction from having survived and from having made a valuable contribution to the conservation of this untarnished marine wilderness. You will return home with the new friends you've made and a wealth of incredible 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 saving endangered marine life. Your staff will be young, friendly individuals who are highly experienced in their field and many have also volunteered on a Frontier project earlier in their career.
For further information about Frontier marine conservation work see the publications section of this website.
Check out our video on Frontier Gap Year TV from Frontier-Tanzania, showing you our volunteers diving.
Your co workers will be committed, energetic and dynamic with a mix of ages and experiences, they will all share a passion for travelling in developing countries and working in marine wildlife conservation. Your staff colleagues will be young, friendly individuals who are highly experienced in their research field and may have started their careers as Frontier volunteers.