About the Blue Lagoon Project
The Blue Lagoon and Coral Reef Monitoring programme focuses on the protection, preservation and restoration of the marine and coastal environment in the Blue Bay and Pointe d’Esny regions of Mauritius. The island is an important place for ocean conservation. Alongside a Mauritian NGO, volunteers and interns work to protect natural resources from threats of pollution and destruction. These often come as a consequence of inconsiderate development and lack of awareness on the island.
Short-term volunteers are involved in the monitoring of the reef in the Blue Bay Marine Park and in the Pointe d’Esny Lagoon. The range of projects that volunteers may be involved with are listed below. Many of the activities are weather and sea condition dependent.
- Lagoon Monitoring – involves conducting fish, coral and anthropogenic activity surveys. We aim to be on the water most days collecting valuable data. This will allow us to inform the local community on the state of this precious resource, upon which many of them are dependent.
- Sea Turtle Monitoring Project – this takes place either in a glass bottom boat or by snorkelling within the Blue Bay Marine Park – a Marine Protected Area (MPA) that covers about 300 hectares. It is well-known for providing a home to the critically-endangered hawksbill turtle. This monitoring project aims to: estimate the actual population of turtles in the Blue Bay MPA, determine the degree of residency of turtles in the area, determine the period spent away from the area, determine the importance of the MPA as a foraging site, and determine stressors on the population. This information is deemed critical for the future endeavours to conserve, manage and restore hawksbill turtles in Mauritius.
- Coral Farming and Community-Based Marine Protected Zone.
- Beach and Mangrove 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. We organise mangrove clean-ups two times a year where volunteers are involved in both mangrove monitoring and mangrove cleaning.
- Collaborative Sea Turtle Project – Sea turtles are regularly seen along the coast but have rarely been observed nesting on mainland beaches in the past 50 years. Educational campaigns are organised in schools to teach local children about the importance of the sea turtles and why we should protect them.
What skills and experience will volunteers gain?
Volunteers can enhance their marine-based knowledge through taking part in this volunteer programme. Various conservation training will be given through different theoretical and practical workshops.
The programme aims to:
- Provide volunteers with a sound understanding of marine ecosystems
- Enable volunteers to identify various coral, fish and benthic species distributed around the oceans of Mauritius.
- Investigate current anthropogenic issues that impact the ecosystem of coral reefs both globally and within the local area of Blue Bay and Mauritius.
Volunteers have the opportunity to do diving as an extra activity in your free time. This is available for both beginners who want to discover scuba diving and/or get dive certified with the PADI Open water course and for divers who are already certified and who want to do some extra diving and/or get PADI Advanced Open water certified. We have a local provider in Blue Bay who is offering the following for volunteers at a discounted price:
2 week dive package includes 1 normal dive, 1 night dive and 1 free dive
3 week dive package includes 2 normal dives, 1 night dive and 1 free dive
4 weeks dive package includes 2 normal dives, 2 night dives and 1 free dive
2 week dive package includes 1 Discover Scuba Diving and 1 free dive
3 week dive package includes 1 Discover Scuba Diving and 2 free dives
4 week dive package includes 1 Discover Scuba Diving and 3 free dives
PADI Advanced Open water course option available for divers, and PADI Open water course option also available for non-divers, and these can be taken over the course of 2, 3 or 4 weeks alongside the volunteer programme. If you want to add any of the above packages to your volunteering programme, you can do so when you arrive to the project.
Long-Term Internship Positions
Internships are available for those with relevant skills and experience. Generally interns come for 2 to 3 months. The following is a list of different positions available:
Lagoon Monitoring Intern
As the Lagoon Monitoring Project Coordinator/Assistant your primary duties will include:
- Leading a team of volunteers. These volunteers 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.
- 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.
- Monitoring levels of illegal fishing activity in the region. This means conducting patrols along the coastline and on the water, and reporting your sightings to the local coast guard.
You will be responsible for the running and maintenance of the boat that you use. You will need to co-ordinate with one of our boat captains to arrange your surveying. To be suitable for this position you should be a good swimmer, snorkeler and have a keen interest in conservation.
Volunteer Coordination Intern
As a volunteer coordination intern your primary duties are:
- Coordinating the groups of volunteers that join the Blue Lagoon and Coral Reef monitoring programme for short term periods all throughout the year.
- Keeping track of things such as the fish populations and the state of the coral (monitoring activities which volunteers are involved).
- When necessary, volunteers will also help with the removal of threats to the reef and fish.
Overall, you are responsible for managing and taking care of the volunteers on 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.
Coral Farming Intern
Coral reefs in Mauritius have been negatively affected due to the spread of poor conditions and large-scale human activity within the lagoon. After the bleaching events of 1998, 2011 and 2014-2015, an estimated 50-60% of live coral cover was reported to have been lost. The coral farming project undertaken in collaboration with the Mauritius Oceanographic Institute (MOI) and the Albion Fisheries Research Council (AFRC) aims to rejuvenate coral populations through addition to and accumulation of local species in the Grand Port lagoon area. It is a cause which continues to gain necessary public awareness.
The farming project entails using nursery-grown (thermally and bleaching-resilient) corals to restore damaged areas of local species. 1000 healthy coral fragments will be placed within mobile, multi-layered structures and will be supervised and cared for by members of staff. Regular cleaning and monitoring shall also be organised by divers of the MOI, AFRC and the project staff.
Your primary duties are planning and managing day-to-day activities which include:
- The placement of coral nursery.
- Maintaining the nursery by cleaning.
- Doing repairs where needed.
- Progress report write-ups.
- Collection of data (water parameters, size of coral fragments, and so on).
- Transplantation phases.
We are still in the early phases of the project. This means the main activities are collection of the required data, analysis of this data, planning for the maintenance activities per week and monitoring of the coral nursery site.
As a Coral Farming Intern, you should be a good snorkeler and team leader. You should also have knowledge of statistical analysis and a good scientific understanding of the marine ecosystem – specifically the coral reef ecosystem.
Turtle Monitoring Intern
As the Sea Turtle Monitoring intern, your primary duty is to lead and train the volunteers in their various activities. These include:
- Conducting hawksbill sea turtle surveys within the Blue Bay Marine Park.
- Estimating the actual population of turtles in the Blue Bay MPA.
- Determining the degree of residency of turtles in the MPA.
- Determining the period spent away from the MPA.
- Determining the importance of the MPA as a foraging site.
- Determining stressors on the population.
The data and photo IDs will need to be collected and recorded properly, so that as much data on the behaviour of the different individuals living in the Marine Park can be obtained. You will be doing this from a glass bottom boat or by snorkelling. You should, therefore, be a good swimmer and snorkeler.
Human Activity Intern
The lagoon of Blue Bay contains both Marine Protected Areas (MPAs) and fishing reserves. These are intended to restrict fishing activity and preserve the marine environment. Although regulations are in place, not everyone abides by them. Marine wildlife remains under threat.
We run a human activity monitoring programme designed to track the amount of illegal fishing carried out in the area. Outings take place twice a week at 7am by boat, kayak, SUP or beach patrol. All data is collected and stored on an excel spreadsheet. From here, it is analysed and summarised in a monthly report which can then be sent to the local government.
Internship Positions General Required skills/qualifications
- Must be familiar with Microsoft Excel and Word.
- Must have strong swimming skills (for turtle, coral & lagoon positions).
- Must be able to work both independently and in a team.
This is a part of an NGO and non-profit organisation. For that reason, interns do not receive a monthly salary or allowance. Interns have to provide (but can be assisted in finding) their own accommodation and transport and will have to pay their own food and living costs. There is a one-off £195 application fee for any intern that is accepted on the programme. As an idea, renting a room for an intern can cost £170 to £250 per month per person.