A few thousand kilometres outside the mainland of the African continent, you will find the small exotic island nation, Mauritius. From the beautiful white sandy beaches, you dive into the bright blue lagoons with the ability to explore the World’s third largest coral reef and the rare marine species that live there. These “rainforests of the sea” are some of the most diverse eco-systems on Earth, and while together occupying very little space, they provide a home for a vast number of marine species essential to our oceans. However, coral reefs are very fragile, and the World has witnessed reef deaths as consequences of years of increasing water temperatures, oceanic acidification, overfishing and pollution among many other reasons.
Tourism is one of the main sources of income for Mauritius, and the natural resources unique to the nation have been paying the price for human intrusion for centuries. Pollution has in particular been the result from years of development, which has failed to take the protection and preservation of the environment into consideration. In 2009, our ‘Lagon Bleu’ project started with the aim to protect, preserve and restore the marine and costal environment of Blue Bay and Pointe d’Esny.They work hard and tirelessly on the project to prevent and diminish some of the major threats that face the coral reefs of Mauritius. This includes non-recycled waste (plastic), pollution, mechanical or chemical destruction of the habitat of corals, fish and other marine species, fishing practices (some illegal), and unscrupulous tourist operators exploiting the reefs.
Now this is where YOU have the chance to be part of this amazing work, and be part of the solution to the ever-increasing environmental threats to Mauritius. There are many varied opportunities as a volunteer, and your duties could include anything from lagoon monitoring, beach and mangrove cleaning to local community support and giving school lessons. There is even now the exciting new opportunity to take part in a new project, which is trying to determine whether the endangered Green Turtle and the critically endangered Hawksbill Turtles are nesting on Mauritius. This has not been the case for decades, but you could be part of the team that would do the work to confirm this
Any task and project that you partake in has a purpose towards the protection and preservation of the environment. For example, the project’s ecological education programme has thus far reached 1500 primary school children. Educating the local population is essential, if they are to become future advocates for the coral reefs and the many rare species that still inhabit them and the islands. It is important to see every act of this project as part of a whole, and like an eco-system, they all have an effect on and purpose for each other.
So, instead of visiting like a regular tourists, why not visit this beautiful island nation as a volunteer. For a few weeks or even several months, you would help with important conservation work, while experience all that the country has to offer. In the end, your data and assistance to the local population is invaluable to the research and final evaluations that will help facilitate an appropriate protection strategy for reefs. This helps safeguard the future of the reefs, and thus in the end also the future of the country. You would in the end go back home with an enhanced understanding of marine ecosystems, developed your data collection and research skills, and in all just gained an invaluable experiences with people from around the World in a beautiful place in the Indian Ocean while making a difference.
If you want to know more about our Blue Lagoon and Coral Reef Monitoring Volunteer & Internship Programme in Mauritius, you can visit our project page here