Become a marine conservation volunteer on the island of Mauritius in the Indian Ocean and take part in a coral reef monitoring volunteer programme. Volunteers will have the opportunity to carry out lagoon monitoring (coral reef and fish), beach cleaning, sea turtle research, mangrove planting and monitoring and also working in local community projects on various environmental volunteer projects. Long term internship management positions available for 3-6 month durations.
You can volunteer and intern in Mauritius for between 1 week and 6 months in duration, and we have places available throughout the year.
Individuals, groups and students are all welcome.
Cost for accommodation, snorkelling equipment, programme materials and training starts from £425.
Marine conservation volunteers and long term interns will work alongside a Mauritian Non Governmental Organisation whose objectives are to preserve the natural resources from the threat of pollution and destruction due to inconsiderate development and lack of awareness on the island of Mauritius. The Blue Lagoon and Coral Reef Monitoring programme focuses on the protection, preservation and restoration of the marine and coastal environment for the region of Blue Bay and Pointe d’Esny, Mauritius.
Short term volunteers are involved in the monitoring of the reef in the Blue Bay Marine Park and in the Pointe d'Esney Lagoon. The range of projects include:
Lagoon Monitoring - involves fish, coral and anthropogenic activity surveys being conducted. We aim to be out on the water most days collecting the valuable data required to try and understand what is happening in the lagoon. This will allow us to inform the local community on the state of their most precious resource, upon which many of them heavily depend.
Mangrove Monitoring & Cleaning - Mangroves protect land against flooding and help to prevent shoreline erosion. Since coral reefs thrive in nutrient-poor waters and mangroves thrive in nutrient-rich waters, mangroves also improve the water quality by purifying the water from wastes and pollutants. Waste is being dumped in the mangroves forest which prevents them from breathing through their roots. So volunteers are involved in both mangrove monitoring and mangrove cleaning.
A Pioneering New Sea Turtle Project - An exciting new project to determine whether the endangered Green Turtle and the critically endangered Hawksbill Turtles are nesting on Mauritius is now available for volunteers in Mauritius. From January to April you will have the opportunity to be involved in essential beach patrols to search for any evidence of nesting, or even be lucky enough to catch a female on the beach! Sea Turtles are regularly seen along the coastline but have very rarely been observed nesting on the mainland beaches in the past 50 years, although local reports have indicated they may be starting to make a comeback.
Working alongside the local community, and accompanied by a local guide, you will provide vital reports to the project and have the very real possibility of being able to confirm that a local breeding population still exists around mainland Mauritius. In doing so, you will be directly involved in the conservation of this endangered population, and genuinely contribute towards their long-term protection.
Volunteers can enhance their marine based knowledge through taking part in this programme. The programme aims to:
Volunteers should aim to join for a minimum of 2 weeks after which time you will gain both a theoretical and practical understanding of the marine environment, be able to implement research methodologies, and gain a further appreciation for current anthropogenic issues influencing the reefs around the Blue Bay Marine Park area. The skills acquired during the programme can then be used to further enhance a volunteer’s academic achievements in marine conservation.
The main area of study will take place within both the Blue Bay Marine Park and the Pointe d’Esny Lagoon. Both areas offer an exciting array of marine species, with as many as 38 species of coral and 72 species of fish been identified within the marine park. However, decades of neglect from illegal fishing, destructive fishing methods, high amounts of tourism and pollutant run off has put increased pressure on the coral reefs around Mauritius. We need your help in aiding the recovery and sustainability of these beautiful reefs.
Internships are available for those with relevant skills and experience, and who can commit to at least 3 to 5 months in duration. You can apply for one or more of the internship positions, or for a combination of the positions. The following is a list of different positions available:
The position of Project Coordinator/Assistant is one of the most broad roles within the team. Since there are a lot of different projects running, you must be able to adjust to the changing requirements. You will work together with other interns/placement students and volunteers, as a general project coordinator you have to manage and encourage the other team members to deliver.
The project coordinator/assistant is responsible for carrying out the daily activities, these include the following:
• Answering the phone and emails
• Taking care of maintenance and inventory
• Managing the accounting
• Preparing meetings, taking minutes
• Update the website and Facebook-page
• Promote, develop and assist in various projects
Besides that, you can work on your personal project. This could be anything you see fit to improve at the project, as long as it is in agreement with your company mentor and the other members of the team of course.
Lagoon Monitoring Project Coordinator/Assistant
As the Lagoon Monitoring Project Coordinator/Assistant your primary duties will include leading a team of volunteers, who will need to be trained to conduct transect surveys within the region, recording the abundance and diversity of fish assemblages at a number of monitoring sites, in addition to monitoring changes to the benthic community over time. This data will then need to be entered into our coral and fish monitoring database, which you will also be responsible for maintaining. You will also be required to monitor levels of illegal fishing activity in the region, conducting patrols along the coastline and on the water, reporting your sightings to the local coast guard. You will be responsible for the running and maintenance of the boat that you will be using, and will need to co-ordinate with one of our boat captains to arrange your surveying.
You will be coordinating the groups of volunteers that join the Blue Lagoon and Coral Reef monitoring programme for short term periods all throughout the year. Volunteers are involved in the monitoring of the reef. Therefore, you will keep track of things such as the fish populations and the state of the coral. When necessary, volunteers will also help with the removal of threats to the reef and fish. As the Volunteer Coordinator, you are in charge of managing and taking care of the volunteers that come to help the project. You make sure they do their job, facilitate them and show them what they can do to help the project reach its goals.
Marine Guide Coordinator
The Marine Guide Coordinator takes care of all the ins and outs of the Mauritius Marine Guide Programme. The programme is related to the line of action that leads to protect and preserve the lagoon so that it may be utilised in a sustainable way. The skills programme is designed to enable a learner to acquire the knowledge skills and values that will enable them to organise and facilitate creative and innovative guiding experiences within the marine environment. A qualifying learner will be able to plan and implement safe tourist guiding experiences. The participant will gain knowledge about every plant, coral and animal species living in the ocean around Mauritius. Participants of the course will then be able to transfer this knowledge to tourists who spend their holidays on the island but also to fishermen, tour operators and others stakeholders. It is our belief that by educating local communities and raising awareness it will in turn benefit the flora and fauna in the waters around Mauritius. As the Marine Guide Coordinator, you facilitate the meetings where the participants receive their education. You plan and develop the programme and promote it to attract as many participants as you can (no placements available until 2017).
The Marketing Manager takes care of the marketing of the NGO. You develop projects to position the project in local, regional, national and international markets. You update the different existing communication channels (Facebook, website, bi-monthly newsletter) and research new ways of making people aware of the activities that are carried out through its projects. It is your task to keep the projects visible and active on the different media channels.
As a Financial/Administration Manager, you make sure the administration and accounting is all up-to-date. You update the accounting files, manage the cash account and prepare the various required financial documents and you are responsible for filing in general. Among these tasks is also keeping track of the income of the project through CSR (Corporate Social Responsibility). This means contacting different companies, setting up meetings with their CSR-departments and reporting back to the management. Besides that, you can develop/improve everything financial/administration related.
Programme Management Intern
The ideal candidate for this intern role will have several years experience of running or being involved in complex programmes with multiple work-streams. He or she should ideally be familiar with the most common programme management tools and techniques and should be comfortable with progress chasing and compiling of programme reports. Some financial reporting experience would be beneficial in order to help the programme manager track and manage the programme cash-flow. Experience of dealing with senior stakeholders and managing their expectations is desirable as is a proven ability to coach and develop junior (but talented) staff. The individual should be flexible, adaptable and be sensitive to cultural differences. A reasonable level of physical fitness is required and the individual should be a competent swimmer
and snorkeller, (for participation in team-building activities from time-to-time).
The role would suit someone who is taking a sabbatical or career break and is looking to use their skills and experience to help make a real difference in environmental conservation.
Internship Positions General Required skills/qualifications
Salary / Remuneration – Living / Travel allowance
Since the project is part of a non-governmental, non-profit organization, interns/placement students do not receive a monthly salary or allowance. Interns have to provide (but can be assisted in finding) their own accommodation and transport. There is a one-off £195 application fee for any intern that is accepted on the programme.
8th May to 22nd May 2017
22nd May to 5th June 2017
5th June to 19th June 2017
19th June to 3rd July 2017
3rd July to 17th July 2017
17th July to 31st July 2017
31st July to 14th August 2017
14th August to 28th August 2017
28th August to 11th September 2017
11th September to 25th September 2017
25th September to 9th October 2017
9th October to 23rd October 2017
23rd October to 6th November 2017
6th November to 20th November 2017
20th November to 4th December 2017
Long Term Internship Programmes:
1. Lagoon Monitoring: Available from 15th August to 15th November 2017 for 3 months
2. Awareness & Education: Available from 10th March to 10th June 2017 for 3 months (candidates must speak French)
3. Human Activity: Available from 1st June to 31st August 2017 and 1st September to 30th November 2017 for 3 months
4. Volunteer Coordinator: Available from 1st June to 31st August 2017 and 1st September to 30th November 2017 for 3 months
5. Programme Management Intern: Available from 1st March to 31st May 2017, 1st June to 31st August 2017 and 1st September to 30th November 2017 for 3 months
6. Financial, admin & Marketing Intern: Available from 1st March to 31st May 2017, 1st June to 31st August 2017 and 1st September to 30th November 2017 for 3 months
NB: Awareness, education & human activity monitoring tend to be combined, into a single position.
The above dates are just a guideline and we can be flexible if you want to start/leave on another date than is listed above. You can join for a minimum of one week up to 12 weeks in duration as a short term volunteer. We recommend that you try to join for at least 2 weeks if possible, which will enable you to gain a theoretical and practical understanding of the marine environment, and you would be able to implement some research methologies during this time. If you join as an intern, you will need to commit for at least 3 to 5 months in duration. Any questions, please email Victoria.McNeil@workingabroad.com
The cost for the short term volunteer programme for 1 week is £425, 2 weeks is £655, 3 weeks is £885, 4 weeks is £1115, 6 weeks is £1,575, 8 weeks is £2,035 and 12 weeks is £2,955. Included in this price is accommodation in self-catering house with kitchen, research and snorkelling equipment, all activities that form part of the volunteering programme and WorkingAbroad backup and support. For all internship positions, there is a one-off £195 application payment - and you are responsible for all food and lodging costs throughout your time as an intern. What is not included is your flights and travel to and from the project, visa costs, personal and food expenses, and your own health and travel insurance.
Lodging for volunteers will be primarily situated around the area of Pointe D’Esny, with the nearest town of Mahebourg situated 20 minutes away by public transport. A welcome tour will be given by one of our staff upon arrival in order to provide you with general knowledge of the area. Lodging will consist of a self catered bungalow with kitchen and all equipment. Rooms are fully furnished and all bedding and sheets will be provided, but you should bring your own beach towel. Internet is available for volunteers to use at the office and you can use the office PC after work hours as well. We would advise you to bring your own phone, and a sim card can be obtained and costs around 4 pounds (Rs200). There are local restaurants and eateries very close by and you can also purchase food to cook your meals with locally.
18 years upwards. No previous experience is required but volunteers must be enthusiastic about the marine environment. You must also be friendly, communicative and be able to work in groups. There are occasions when weather conditions can make swimming difficult so therefore a good and strong swimming ability is essential. A health and safety briefing will be given by one of our staff prior to undergoing any activities.
Interns must be familiar with Microsoft Excel and Word and be able to work both independently and in a team. You will need to make a commitment of at least 3 months to join as an intern.
How to Get There
You need to fly to the Aeroport de Plaisance in Mauritius, airport code MRU. From the UK, there are direct flights with Air Mauritius and British Airways. A flight with Emirates is also possible, with one stop in Dubai. The flying time is approximately 11 hours with a direct flight, around 16 hours (depending on the flight) with Emirates. We can arrange for your airport pickup and drop off for the price of 10€ each way (20€ in total).
Passport and visa
A valid passport with at least 6 months after the date of return is required, as well as a return ticket. Nationals of the European Union do not need a visa and for most other countries, no visa is required for a stay of up to 60 days for tourist purposes. Since visa requirements vary from country to country, please check with your local embassy as to whether a visa is required to enter Mauritius with your passport.
The population of Mauritius is about 1 300 000 inhabitants, with a very high density of about 700 inhabitant / km2. The capital, Port Louis, accounts 150 000 inhabitants. Mauritius is a blend of diverse cultures and religions. The population consists of Hindus, Creole, Chinese, Muslims and Europeans.
English is the official language of Mauritius, but the most widely used is French and the local dialect, Creole. Hindi, Urdu and Chinese are also spoken.
Temperature on the coast varies between 22°C in winter and 34°C in summer. Sea temperature varies between 22°C and 27°C. In the central part of the island, the maximum daytime temperature varies from about 19°C in August to about 26°C in February. The western and northern regions are warmer and relatively drier than the East and the South. High factor suncream is advised for all volunteers!
Hepatitis A, B and Tetanus/Diptheria - vaccinations are recommended. It's a good idea to pack shoes that can be worn in the sea to protect against sharp coral, sea urchins and stonefish. Medical facilities are good and free in public hospitals, but private clinics are expensive and therefore please note that it is mandatory for all volunteers joining this programme to take out a medical/accident insurance to cover the duration of the programme.
Update from the Lagoon! Our volunteers - Malcolm, Patricia and Andrew had the chance to go on an expedition to the Ile d'Ambre (Amber island) to explore the region on kayaks - check out a video & some pics below
Mauritius is, with La Réunion and Rodrigues, an island in the Mascarene Archipelago, located in the southwest of the Indian Ocean (20 ° / 57,5°E), at approximately 2000 km off the coast of Africa and 900 km from Madagascar. Of a surface of 1865 km2, the island is lined with a magnificent turquoise lagoon on most of its 330km of coast; it includes a vast central plateau surrounded with some mountainous peaks.
Set on a breathtaking lagoon, the volunteer project is situated in Pointe d’Esny, near Mahébourg, on the South East coast of Mauritius. Mahébourg is a colorful and lively town, steeped in Mauritian history. Fisherman and shopkeepers ply the streets, adding to the rich and dynamic atmosphere of this coastal treasure.
Dark volcanic rock makes for a stark contrast to the bright white coral sand on the long and open beaches of Pointe d’Esny. Tropical fish swim just underneath the peaceful surface of the remarkable brilliant-blue lagoon, which stretches out to a coral reef and open ocean just beyond. Punctuating the western end, the Blue Bay marine park, a UNESCO world heritage site, is a rich and colorful underwater ecosystem brimming with coral and marine life.
Julia Schläpfer from Switzerland spent 6 weeks volunteering from January-March 2017:
I had the best six weeks volunteering in Mauritius. The other volunteers, interns and coordinators were very nice and I felt welcomed as soon as I arrived. Together we had a great time collecting data, going snorkeling and kayaking, exploring the island and giving presentations. The apartment was very good and we had a lot of nice evenings cooking together and sitting on the balcony. All in all I had a wonderful time and could share a lot of great memories with great people. I would do it again any time.
Richard England from the UK spent 4 weeks volunteering from January-Febuary 2017:
I had a best time in Mauritius! I loved working at the Blue Lagoon Reef Monitoring project with the team and have made some great friends in the rest of the volunteers/interns as well. The accommodation is very good, especially having everyone together in one building and having access to bikes to get around. The work is very laid back; It’s a shame they are not actively doing turtle nesting monitoring anymore, but one of the other volunteers and Josheena were lucky enough to go to an island north of Mauritius where they knew a nest was about to hatch. Having one day a week scheduled for excursions to various places around the rest of the Mauritius was great and enabled me to feel like I’ve seen the entire island in its glory. I’ll definitely be going back one day.
Alex Hormann from USA volunteered as a Lagoon Monitoring Intern from September to December 2016:
I personally have been all over the world, and visited many different waters and coral reefs. Therefore, I feel safe saying that Mauritius’s coral reefs are a jewel in the worlds ocean, offering one of the most pristine, and diverse coral reef systems I have ever seen. I have also seen the rapid rate in which this country is developing, its economy expanding and its people growing in number.
As with many other nations around the world, development of a country goes hand in hand with environmental degradation. In many Latin American countries and in Asian countries, the price of development has been the destruction of their natural treasures, their reefs, their national inheritance. As these countries and populations grew, cheap food and decorations became more important than future generations, and their reefs were raped of all life and resources leaving only a shadow of its prior beauty and productivity. This is what I see happening right now in Mauritius, although it has just started.
While the reefs are still here and they are still beautiful, they will not be for long if nothing is done to save them. People may see this as robbing them of their human rights for food and money, but it is merely preserving these resources so that their kids, and future generations can also reap the bounties of the healthy ocean. If one has any foresight whatsoever, and can see past their own greed, then one can see that the production of their oceans is in a great decline, and by continuing to harvest it at such a rate will rob it from the future generations.
The magnificent reefs that circle this island are some of the most beautiful in the world, and should be considered part of the national identity of every Mauritian, a reason to be proud of your beautiful country. This is why I think the coral reefs are worth investing in, and worth protecting.
Marina from Germany speaks about her time on the project in August 2016
I have spent 2 weeks volunteering - an absolutely great time, during which I have learnt a lot about the marine ecosystem and coral reefs, gained insight into the work of an environmental NGO and discovered the beautiful island of Mauritius. It has been an extremely valuable and memorable experience, which has allowed me to perfectly combine a volunteering activity with holidays. As a matter of fact, the programme relies on a good mix between work and free time. The staff is very friendly and knowledgeable, which makes you feel at ease from the start. I was also lucky to be in a great group of volunteers with whom we spent a lot of pleasant time together beyond the project activities. Last but not least, the support offered by WorkingAbroad in the preparation of the trip is really great; you can be sure that all your queries will be addressed in a very effective and quick manner.
A quick look at our volunteer feedback from 2015:
“It was a wonderful experience learning and helping the marine life.” - Fatima Luthi
“It is very rewarding knowing that even though I played a small part, I helped make a difference. If I get the chance to come back I would do it in a heartbeat.” - Dalma Szilagyi
“The programme was interesting, diverse, and I had the opportunity to have some insight into marine biology. The staff helped us to organize any activities we wanted to try in our free time, and exploring the island in the time we had there was amazing.” - Ellen Bentley
“It was a great opportunity to learn about something I knew very little about, and to develop my fairly basic snorkelling, kayaking and paddle-boarding skills – all in a really relaxed, positive and fun environment. Generally a brilliant two weeks!”- Kiara
“I learned a lot about the attempts being made by various organisations to preserve wildlife in Mauritius” - Henry Mooney
“I learned a lot about unsustainable development and coral reef ecology.” - Nicholas
Luciana Salgueiro from Brazil talks about her time on the project:
I enjoyed the main activities, fish and coral monitoring, and also participating in other NGOs projects (beach cleaning and dolphin project presentation). I could learn a lot about the environment and had the opportunity to see many things around the island and meet interesting people.
What did you gain/learn?
Knowledge in corals, fishes, sea, Mauritian society, humanity, Mauritius public transport system when traveling. Very difficult to put everything in words.
Did everything meet your expectations?
In fact, the programme and the whole experience were above my expectations. Everything was very well organized and structured. I am used with lack of organization and lack of structure in NGO’s operation in Brazil.
Would you recommend the Volunteer programme?
Sure! The staff completely conduct themselves in a professional manner, they gave their best in teaching technical knowledge for the work, presenting the NGO projects and also in helping the volunteers with our activities and needs besides the work such as visiting places, using our free time the best way possible and also teaching how to get around the island and saving money from people who take advantage of tourists.
Linda Esche from Germany writes about her time at the project:
Volunteering for the Blue Lagoon project after finishing my studies, was definitely the best decision! Studying the corals and fish of the lagoon has been a completely new and rewarding experience, which has only strengthened my wish to pursue a career that contributes to the conservation of such valuable ecosystems in the face of climate change.
I was happy to learn more about the biodiversity of Mauritius and the Indo-Pacific as well as improve my snorkelling skills and experience new activities such kayaking through mangrove forests to a reef and stand-up paddling.
Not only was the accommodation great, but the staff were always willing to help and extremely nice. Apart from that Blue Bay had beautiful beaches and facilities nearby, it is a great place to stay, while weekends offer good possibilities to explore the island. From corals reefs and little islands with astonishing endemic flora and fauna to mangrove forests, waterfalls and mountains, Mauritius has many diverse attractions to offer.
Andrew Gilchrist, from the UK, Volunteered on the project for 1 month in 2014
I only spent 1 month in Mauritius, but after the first few days I had fully settled in. The team were extremely helpful and I was able to integrate quickly into the team. I soon got to know my way around the accommodation and village. The nearby town had more facilities than I had expected and there was a supermarket and a choice of good restaurants nearby. No matter where we were on the island, the scenery was unbelievable.
As volunteers we were required to conduct transects for the fish and coral reef monitoring. I was amazed to see such a large variety of fish and coral species in one location. Alongside this we spent time with the local fishermen and gave presentations to local school pupils educating them about the importance of conservation in the natural environmental as well as helping them plant some young Mangrove trees.
During weekends there’s plenty to do if you want to visit the rest of the island. A local bus can take you to anywhere across the island. I would recommend catamaran trips to visit the many smaller islands situated around Mauritius. I was surprised to find wild monkeys had inhabited one of these islands and were living there quite happily.
Overall I had a fantastic experience and enjoyed every minute of it. If anyone wants to play a valuable role in the protection of this tropical paradise, then this is an opportunity you can’t miss.
Below are some photos of Andy doing a mangrove planting project with school children:
Two Chinese girls - Candy and Candice give their feedback on their time this summer:
This was a great chance to experience Mauritian culture and enjoy the beautiful scenery. The house is beautiful, Mauritius is beautiful. My favourite parts were doing surveys of corals and fish, snorkelling, and talking to tourists about the lagoon.
The staff were really nice, like my sisters!
I would recommend this programme to my friends - there are many friends who want to be a volunteer and travel in Mauritius.
Malcolm Reyneke from South Africa writes about his time at the project in Mauritius:
On finishing my studies I decided to volunteer for the project. I spent 2 months on the beautiful island of Mauritius – best decision ever!
Working on the project involved a variety of tasks. I took part in ongoing lagoon monitoring which was a great opportunity to learn about the many fish and coral species in the bay. I was also involved in community education projects, mangrove planting and monitoring, beach monitoring as well as the social "beach cleanups".
It wasn't all work – I had adequate time to explore the island – by day and by night and played "international" volley ball games with the locals every week. Besides learning many new skills I also made real great friends along the way and would recommend it to anyone.
Jenna Guffogg speaks about her time on the project:
"Overall I thought it was a wonderful experience with a really good work-leisure balance. The staff did an excellent job of running the programme, most activities were focused around data collection out in the lagoon (lots of transect lines) with a bit of community awareness towards the end. My advice to any volunteers would be to have an enthusiastic attitude towards data collection and possibly learn a little French - although I did not know any when I was over there and I managed fine."