Expand your Marine Knowledge and Conserve Fragile Reefs in Mauritius

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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, mangrove planting and monitoring and also working in local community projects on various environmental volunteer projects.  Long term internship management positions available for 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 2014 & 2015.

Individuals, groups and students are all welcome.

Cost for accommodation, snorkelling equipment, programme materials and training starts from £380.

Marine volunteer site in Blue Bay Marine Park Colourful coral There are as many as 38 species of coral in the lagoon There are 72 species of fish in the lagoon A green Turtle in its natural habitat The Clown Fish amongst coral One of many reef species volunteers will help to protect The biodiversity-rich reefs of the Blue Bay Marine Park Marine volunteers doing coral transects Marine volunteer doing more transects Volunteer with staff on the boat Marine volunteers underwater A group of marine volunteers diving in the Blue Bay Underwater statues Damaged corals Volunteers doing coral transects Tree planting Mangroves in the Blue Bay Marine Park Planting with local schools Volunteers mangrove planting Volunteers going out on the boat to snorkel and collect rubbish Cleaning day in the lagoon Volunteers getting on the boat Volunteers going out to monitor coral Volunteers collecting rubbish The marine volunteers' cleaning day results Marine volunteers cleaning the coastal waters of the Blue Bay Marine volunteer group photo

Marine volunteers will work in the Blue Bay Marine ParkThe Project

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.

Volunteer Programme

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:

  • Marine volunteers diving amongst coral reefsLagoon Monitoring (coral and fish monitoring and recording all human activities which take place within the lagoon);
  • Beach and Mangrove Cleaning and Monitoring;
  • Providing a number of actions to build local community support (questionnaire survey, events, in-school  lessons for children).

Marine volunteers in the volunteer boat, ready to go to work at seaLagoon 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.

Monitor coral reef quality as a marine conservation volunteerWhat skills and experience will volunteers gain?

Volunteers can enhance their marine based knowledge through taking part in this programme.  The programme aims to: 

  • Provide volunteers with a sound understanding of the marine ecosystem
  • Enable volunteers to identify various coral, fish and benthic species distributed around the oceans of Mauritius. Training will be given through various theoretical and practical workshops.
  • Investigate current anthropogenic issues that impact the ecosystem of corals reefs both globally and within the local area of Blue Bay and Mauritius. The programme will then look at current conservation strategies, which can used to manage and control the addressed issues.
  • Marine conservation volunteers diving underwater in the Blue Bay Marine ParkEnable volunteers to implement up to date research, through the practical application of current methodologies, which assess both fish and benthic abundance. These methodologies will be applied using both snorkeling and scuba diving techniques.

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.

Fish amongst the coral reefs of the Blue Bay Marine ParkArea of study

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.

 

Long Term Internship Positions

Internships are available for those with relevant skills and experience, and who can commit to at least 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:

Volunteers and interns on our coral reef project in MauritiusProject Manager
The position of Project manager 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 manager you have to manage and encourage the other team members to deliver.

The project manager 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.


Intern in Mauritius as a lagoon monitoring project managerLagoon Monitoring Project Manager
As the Lagoon Monitoring Project Manager you 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.


Volunteer Coordinator
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.  You will therefore take part in regular dives along the 8KM reef noting any changes to 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.

Project staff on coral reef project in MauritiusMarine 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.


Marketing Manager
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.

Green turtles that volunteers research in MauritiusFinancial/Administration Manager
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.


Internship Positions Required skills/qualifications

  • Scuba diving qualification and/or boat driving license useful, but not necessary.
  • Must be familiar with Microsoft Excel and Word
  • Must be able to work both independent and in a team
  • Must get a student visa (we can provide information on how to do this).

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 £160 application fee for any intern that is accepted on the programme.

Dates:  
You can start a placement throughout the whole year. Most interns come to the organization for a period of at least five months. There is no closing date for applications, so you can apply for an internship any time.

2014 & 2015 Dates & Costs

The marine conservation volunteer boatVolunteer programme

4th August to 18th August
18th August to 1st September
1st September to 15th September
15th September to 29th September
29th September to 13th October
13th October to 27th October
27th October to 10th November
10th November to 24th November
24th November to 8th December
8th December to 22nd December
22nd December to 5th January 2015
5th January to 19th January 2015

19th January to 2nd February 2015
2nd February to 16th February 2015
16th February to 2nd March 2015
2nd March to 16th March 2015
16th March to 30th March 2015
30th March to 13th April 2015
13th April to 27th April 2015
27th April to 11th May 2015
11th May to 25th May 2015
25th May to 8th June 2015
8th June to 22nd June 2015
22nd June to 6th July 2015
6th July to 20th July 2015
20th July to 3rd August 2015

Long term internship programme

Marine volunteers helping with tree planting1st August to 31st December
1st September to 31st January 2015
1st October to 28th February 2015
1st November to 31st March 2015
1st December to 30th April 2015
1st January to 31st May 2015
1st February to 30th June 2015
1st March to 31st July 2015
1st April to 31st August 2015
1st May to 30th September 2015
1st June to 31st October 2015

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 5 months in duration.  Any questions, please email Victoria.McNeil@workingabroad.com

Costs
The cost for the short term volunteer programme for 1 week is £380, 2 weeks is £600, 3 weeks is £820, 4 weeks is £1040, 6 weeks is £1,480, 8 weeks is £1,920 and 12 weeks is £2,800.  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 £160 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.

Marine conservation volunteers at dinnerLodging, Travel & Practicalities

Lodging
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.

One of our marine conservation volunteer groupsVolunteer Requirements
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 swimming ability is essential. A health and safety briefing will be given by one of our staff prior to undergoing any activities.  

Internship requirements
A Scuba diving qualification and/or boat driving license is useful, but not necessary. 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 5 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.

A marine volunteer at sea on the volunteer boatGeneral Guide

Population
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.

Languages
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.

Climate
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!

Health Requirements
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.

Interactive Map, Videos & Background

Maps

Videos

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

Volunteers out on the lagoon in Mauritius

Ile d'Ambre, Mauritius

Volunteers on the Ile d'Ambre in Mauritius

 

 

 

 

Background

A map of the area marine conservation volunteers will work within

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.

Volunteer Testimonials

​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.

A marine conservation volunteer diving underwater

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."

 

Some photos of Andy Gilchrist from the UK, doing a mangrove planting project with school children

Children planting mangroves with volunteers in Mauritius

Volunteer Andy doing a mangrove planting project in Mauritius

 

 

 

 

How to Join

If you are interested in joining this project to volunteer in Mauritius as a marine conservation volunteer or a long term intern, you will need to fill out the online application form (you can also print it out and send it to us by post) – to secure a placement on the project, please complete and submit the form including two references and your deposit of £160. If for some reason, your application is declined, we would reimburse this deposit fully. However for those volunteers who are accepted, the full amount needs to be paid one month before the start date. For interns, once your application has been received and if we wish to proceed to the next phase, we will carry out a Skype interview with you.  Once your place is confirmed, you will receive a pre-departure package with all detailed information on your project, the region, suggested items to bring etc.
 

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