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Tanzania Whale Sharks & Turtles Course Credit Internship

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Tanzania Whale Sharks & Turtles Course Credit Internship

Embarking on an internship abroad is a fantastic opportunity to gain valuable practical skills and course credit in one’s field of study while experiencing full immersion in a novel culture.

Prices from US$2,695

A multitude of Frontier volunteers and interns are university or college students undertaking academic study. Why not make the most of your time abroad by adding volunteer experience to your resume as well as gaining academic credit in your field of study? This internship will give you the opportunity to gain relevant work experience that will not only enable you to stand out to prospective employers but will also save you time and money; after all, a minimum of 4 weeks spent volunteering during your summer vacation works out a lot cheaper than another semester at college!

So how does it work? Volunteers can arrange with their academic institution to gain transferable course credit by participating in our field programmes. Our research team both in our London Headquarters and overseas field staff will liaise with your academic course supervisors on your behalf to ensure that your participation contributes to your academic performance and confers course credits. Further to this, we are able to sign supporting documentation, verify your participation and provide mentoring and in country support. To sum up, Frontier will be there for you every step of the way!

Your Tanzania adventure begins with a thrilling journey high above the turquoise Indian Ocean as you fly to Mafia Island - the most beautiful of Tanzania's Spice Islands, where tranquil white sand beaches, friendly villagers and world class snorkelling and scuba diving sites combine to make this a true tropical paradise. Tanzania's coast is home to some of the most spectacular wildlife in the world. The crystal clear waters host a wealth of marine habitats including the bewitching whale shark and beautiful turtle making this a perfect location to explore this pristine and magical underwater world.


The vivid, multi-hued coral reefs support a dazzling array of tropical reef fish and provide rich feeding grounds for turtles, rays and other marine creatures, whilst the deep blue offshore waters support vast shoals of cruising pelagics, whale sharks and dolphins.

One of the most appealing and certainly most intriguing aquatic species to be found here though is the wondrous whale shark. Vast in size and blue grey in colour they glide silently through the deep waters of the Indian Ocean filtering algae and fish into their wide mouths. Despite their impressive physicality - they can grow up to 12.65 metres in length and often weigh the same as a small elephant - whale sharks have been described as gentle and even playful and make ideal swimming companions. Sadly these elegant aquatic inhabitants are threatened by a variety of natural and human induced reasons.

The work you carry out will be rewarding and exciting and hugely beneficial to Mafia Island Marine Park's conservation efforts, as well as being amazing fun! At the end of the day you will gain immense satisfaction from knowing that you have helped to save this precious marine wilderness protecting it for future generations.




  • We will tailor your internship to fulfill university/college requirements for independent study or course credit for your field of study 
  • 24/7 supervision and mentoring 
  • Direct liaison between your mentor and university or college tutor
  • Your mentor can also provide a college reference at the end of your internship
  • Help to monitor & conserve coral reefs and observe rare African marine wildlife
  • Work on data from some of the world's best dive sites
  • Extend your experience of tropical marine and coastal zone conservation field work
  • There is also the opportunity to gain a qualification in habitat conservation

It is possible to gain academic credit in the following fields of study:

  • Biological Sciences
  • Coaching 
  • Coral Reef Conservation 
  • Community Health
  • Conservation Biology
  • Construction
  • Ecology
  • Ecosystem Management
  • Healthcare
  • Health Education
  • Journalism
  • Languages
  • Marine Biology
  • Marine Mammal Conservation
  • Medical Placements
  • Teaching
  • Tropical Forest Conservation 
  • Tropical Wildlife Conservation 
  • Wildlife Management


  • Intermediate level of English
  • Introduction to your course supervisor


Location Mafia Island, Tanzania

Explore the beaches whilst helping to preserve turtle hatchlings
Contribute towards an educational/awarness programme with local fisherman and tourists on whale sharks
Discover & record living organisms
Record observations of the feeding habits & behaviour patterns of a range of marine life
Study the impact of fishing on the corals reefs and local whale shark populations
Report the effects of global warming on marine communities
Observe the impact of a marine park on the health of the ecosystem and associated organisms


Airport pick-up from Dar es Salaam can be arranged at extra cost and first night hostel accommodation in Dar es Salaam can be arranged at extra cost (£40/$60) (optional)

Airport pick up available from Mafia Island Airport 
Transfer to camp from Mafia Island Airport

Accommodation Communal camp




Before you go

Pre-departure support & documentation
Travel & medical advice & documentation
Equipment advice
Discounted medical kit
Free Frontier t-shirt
UK residential briefing weekend including food, accommodation and training (extra cost applies)


Airport pick up from Dar es Salaam and transfer to hostel in Dar es Salaam (extra cost US$22/$20

First night hostel accommodation (extra cost US$22/$20)

Transfer to airport for connecting flight to the island (extra cost US$22/$20)

Airport pick-up at local airport on Mafia Island and transfer to the camp (extra cost US$7/$6)
Accommodation on marine camp
3 meals per day provided on project sites, 6 days per week. 2 meals provided on Sunday
Local orientation
Project training
Dive training courses available PADI Open Water US$782, PADI Advanced Open Water US$620
FREE use of Frontier project dive equipment, including tanks, BCDs, regs and weights
24-hour international HQ back-up
In-country emergency support
Vocational qualification diploma or certificate in Tropical Habitat Conservation may be available depending on length of stay
Free park & reserve entrance fees (usually $20 per person per day) & research permits if applicable
Discounted advanced dive courses: PADI Emergency First Response (US$221), PADI Rescue Diver (US$595), & PADI Divemaster qualifications (US$1,275)
CoPE qualification available depending on length of stay


A variety of qualifications are available on many of our projects. For example, BTEC certificates and diplomas on our Group conservation projects and TEFL certificates and BTECs on most of our teaching projects. You may also be able to gain a CoPE to support your university application. For more information on these qualifications, please see the qualifications section of our website or ask your volunteer advisor.


Mafia Island Marine Park

Mafia Island is about as close as you can get to the quintessential Indian Ocean tropical paradise. The tiny island of about 40,000 people is a friendly, laid-back place that has long been praised as a diver and sea angler's paradise.

Mafia's luxuriant mangroves, luminous seagrass beds and dazzling coral reefs play host to a multitude of tropical reef fish, seahorses and five species of graceful and gentle sea turtles. Offshore, the deeper waters are a regular stop off point for dolphins, migrating humpback whales and giant whale sharks. You can experience this magical seashore environment when you join the Frontier beach camp on Mafia Island and swim and snorkel from the beach out to the crystal clear waters of Tanzania's exclusive Marine Park.

Conserving the coral reefs and Whale Sharks

Tanzania’s extensive coral reefs are damaged and in danger of being lost forever. Climate change and subsequent rising sea temperatures damage the coral by affecting the zooxanthellae that form the foundation of the reef, a process known as bleaching. Consequently other species that live symbiotically with the reef also begin to die out. Coral reefs are not only extremely beautiful but they also sustain vast volumes of biodiversity and are essential for life on earth. Whale sharks are threatened by the same threats that affect coral reefs as well as by the additional threats posed by their accidental death in fishing nets, sound pollution, water pollution and habitat destruction. The key aim of this project is to assist in raising the awareness of local stakeholders of whale sharks along with turtle nesting activity, with the long term aim of developing a strategy for future coastal zone management.

If you are joining this project between November and January then you may have the opportunity to conduct surveys on the transient whale shark population. You may be recording details of sightings and monitoring returning whale sharks. Volunteers may also have the opportunity of conducting awareness raising activities with tourists visiting Mafia Island.

Monitor Turtle Habitat

The project undertakes underwater exploration involving mapping the incredible biodiversity of the coastal area and marine habitats. Research involves surveying, mapping and recording important marine habitats such as seagrass meadows and mangrove forests.

Discover Swahili Culture

Through participating in environmental awareness raising in local schools and community activities you will gain insights into the culture and lifestyle of the local people.

The time of year that you visit the project will greatly affect the type of work you are involved in as much of our research is heavily dependent on the season.


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 sustainably to manage this priceless marine ecosystem and preserve it for future generations. To gather the data needed you will snorkel through seagrass and mangrove habitats and study the various communities existing on them.

Living and working in an internationally recognised marine protected area will give you access to a fantastic array of wildlife and ecosystems. You may have the opportunity to snorkel on habitats untouched by destructive fishing practices and help monitor the success of a variety of conservation methods. The data collected on our commercial fish surveys aids the marine park in maintaining the most up to date and dynamic management plans for the future of the region so we can be confident that Mafia Island will remain a stunning destination for future generations.

Sea turtles generally nest on the island from April to July with eggs hatching between June and August. If you are taking part in the project at this time you may have the opportunity to monitor and protect these incredible creatures of the ocean, witnessing the nesting process and watching young turtles hatching and scurrying their way to the Indian Ocean.

Whilst snorkelling, you'll see an extraordinary array of animals from abundant fish life to nudibranchs, sea cucumbers to feathery starfish and spiny urchins to octopus. By the end of your project you will be expert at identifying hundreds of coloured and patterned reef fish. 

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 many of whom may have also volunteered on a Frontier project earlier in their career.

You'll get immense satisfaction 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 photos, videos, stories and memories.

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.

Sample Itinerary*

7:15 - Breakfast of bread and spread

8:15 - Marine duty – filling water buckets for rinsing kit later

9:15 - Journey to snorkel site

10:15 - Snorkel to see condition of coral

11:15 - Surface interval on the boat

12:15 - Snorkel to identify invertebrates

13:15 - Journey back to camp on the boat

14:15 - Wash kit and hang up to dry

14:30 - Lunch

15:30 - Creating turtle fact sheet

16:30 - Invertebrate identification quiz

18:00 - Dinner time

19:00 - Chill out time

21:00 - Bed time

 *This itinerary should only be considered as an example of the kind of activities and timescales to expect.  Actual itineraries may vary depending on the season and the requirements of the project.


We can arrange an airport pick up for you at Dar es Salaam Airport and a local private driver will escort you to a local hostel where you can spend your first night relaxing and recovering from your journey, these costs are extra and you can pay our representative US$68/$60 directly. The following day you will return you to the airport in time for your internal flight on the eight seater light aircraft to Mafia Island. Please ensure you book your flight well in advance. Once on Mafia Island you will be met by Frontier staff at the airport and transferred by vehicle to the marine conservation project camp site at Utende. We can provide you with detailed instructions on how to reach the Mafia Island camp if travelling independently.




During the project you'll live on our marine camp at Utende on the east coast of Mafia Island, where you will have an authentic and memorable living experience. The Frontier marine camp was constructed by local craftsmen using traditional building techniques and local materials. 

Camp life is very simple, unsophisticated and fun. You will be staying in communal bandas; huts made from makuti (woven palm leaves), poles and mud, and sleeping on beds constructed from wooden poles, your "shower" will be a jug or a bucket of water and you cook over a charcoal stove so prepare for the basic, unencumbered lifestyle!

As well as the diving and marine conservation work you may help with the community outreach and environmental awareness work in the local villages, scientific data entry and daily camp maintenance, taking turns to cook, tidy and clean the camp, rinse dive kit, prime hurricane lamps, collect water and help with a wide variety of other essential camp duties.


Camp food is simple and nutritious and consists largely of rice, vegetables and beans all of which are purchased locally in order to help support the local economy. Luxuries such as chocolate, biscuits, peanut butter and drinking chocolate can be purchased in Kilindoni but tend to be very expensive so make sure you stock up before heading to the field!  Part of your role on camp will be to help with the cooking, so get your cookbooks out now and start practising! Also, with luck you'll be invited to local parties and festivals – a great way to integrate with the local communities in the nearby villages and absorb the local culture.

Ten Most Recent Reviews for This Project


The Frontier-Tanzania camp is fun and in your spare time you'll have opportunities to swim and snorkel, play football against the unbeatable local side or try out beach volleyball. Alternatively you may enjoy a traditional Saturday night themed camp party, play poker, chess or backgammon or join in a camp quiz night. After a long hard day of diving you may prefer to relax with a drink and sway in the camp hammock or sit and chat to your new friends under a sky lit up by millions of stars.

dive courses run monthly commencing on the first monday of the month

  • Single Day Snorkelling US$17
  • Single Day Dive US$42
  • Double Dive US$85
  • 4-dive package US$170
  • 10-dive package US$340


  • Discover Scuba Diving US$110
  • Open Water Dive Course US$782
  • Advanced Open Water US$620
  • Emergency First Responder US$221
  • Rescue Diver US$595
  • Dive Master US$1,275 (PADI professional membership fees not included)

*Medical certificate is mandatory for participation in dive courses


4 weeks US$2,695

5 weeks US$3,045

6 weeks US$3,395

7 weeks US$3,645

8 weeks US$3,895

9 weeks US$4,095

10 weeks US$4,245

20 weeks US$6,795

Extra week US$395


First and Third Monday of every month.


From 4 weeks


Before you go

  • Pre-departure support & documentation
  • Travel & medical advice & documentation
  • Equipment advice
  • Discounted medical kit
  • Free Frontier t-shirt
  • UK residential briefing weekend including food, accommodation and training (extra cost applies)


  • Airport pickup in Dar es Salaam and transfer to hostel (extra cost US$22/$20)
  • First night hostel accommodation in Dar es Salaam (extra cost US$22/$20)
  • Transfer to airport for connecting flight to the island (extra cost US$22/$20)
  • Airport pick up from Mafia Island Airport & transfer to Frontier camp (extra cost US$7/$6)
  • Accommodation on marine camp
  • Accommodation upgrades available in local lodge (extra cost applies)
  • 3 meals per day provided on project sites, 6 days per week. 2 meals provided on Sunday
  • Local orientation
  • Project training
  • Dive training courses available to PADI Dive Master
  • FREE use of Frontier project dive equipment, including tanks, BCDs, regs, weights, compressor
  • 24-hour in-country & international HQ emergency support & back-up
  • Free park & reserve fees (usually $20 per person per day) & research permits if applicable
  • CoPE qualification available depending on length of stay


Nearest airport(s): Mafia Island (MFA)


  • Flights
  • Visas
  • Insurance

For detailed information on flights, visas and insurance, click here.


Please read our legal statement regarding the running of NGO projects.

To apply for this placement, click on "Apply Now" below. Fill in the short application form and one of our advisers will then call you back to answer any questions and make sure this is the perfect placement for you. Applying doesn't cost a penny and you won't pay anything until you're completely happy and you're ready to reserve your place.

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