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, coral farming, mangrove planting and sea turtle monitoring and also work on local community projects and on various environmental volunteer projects. Long term internship positions available for 3-month durations.
You can volunteer and intern in Mauritius for between 2 weeks 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, airport transfers, programme materials and training starts from £785.
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 that volunteers may be involved with (weather and sea condition dependent) 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 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, the NGO organises mangrove clean-ups two times per year where volunteers are involved in both mangrove monitoring and mangrove cleaning.
Coral Farming and Community Based Marine Protected Zone - Volunteers will be involved in assisting to set up the coral farm and community engagement to gain support from the local stakeholders to partake in the CMPZ. They will also take part in monitoring the health of the CMPZ and species living in through snorkelling trip on site. The volunteers will help to maintain the coral nursery by cleaning the structure on a weekly. Data on the growth rate of the corals will be taken for analysis.
Sea Turtle Monitoring - Sea turtle monitoring will be done within the Blue Bay Marine Park from a glass bottom boat and through snorkelling. This Marine Protected Area covers about 300 hectares, and has long been known to harbour a population of the critically endangered species; the hawksbill turtle. However, up to date, no thorough studies on the demography of this population has been carried out. 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 MPA, determine the period spent away from the MPA, 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, or restore the population of hawksbill turtle of Mauritius.
Collaborative Sea Turtle Project - 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. Sensitisation campaigns are organised in schools during the first and second term of the academic calendar to educate local children on the importance of the sea turtles and why we should protect them.
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 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:
Lagoon Monitoring Intern
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.
Coral Farming Intern
Coral reefs in Mauritius have been affected negatively due to the spread of less liveable conditions as well as large-scale human activity within the lagoon. 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 and species through addition and accumulation of local species in the Grand Port lagoon area. After bleaching events of 1998, 2011 and 2014-2015, an estimated 50-60% of live coral cover was reported to have been lost. The farming project entails using nursery-grown, thermally, and bleaching-resilient corals to 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 the staff. Regular cleaning and monitoring shall also be organised by divers of the MOI, AFRC and the project staff.
Your duty will be to plan and manage the day-to-day activities such the placement of coral nursery, maintaining the nursery by cleaning and doing repairs where needed, progress report write-ups, collection of data (water parameters, size of coral fragments, and so on), and transplantation phase. We are still at the very start of the project that the coral nursery, therefore main activities for this project will collection of the required data, analysis of these data, planning for the maintenance activities per week and monitoring of the coral nursery site. As the Coral Farming Intern, you should be a good snorkeler, team leader that knows how to do statistical analysis and at the same have a good scientific background the marine ecosystem, especially the coral reef ecosystem.
Turtle Monitoring Intern
As the Sea Turtle Monitoring intern, your primary duties will include leading a team of volunteers, who will need to be trained to conduct hawksbill sea turtle surveys within the Blue Bay Marine Park, to estimate the actual population of turtles in the Blue Bay MPA, determine the degree of residency of turtles in the MPA, determine the period spent away from the MPA, determine the importance of the MPA as a foraging site and determine 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 and through snorkelling.
Human Activity Intern
The lagoon of Blue bay contains both Marine Protected Area’s and fishing reserves that restrict fishing activity to preserve the marine environment. Although regulations have been put in place, not everyone abides to them meaning that marine wildlife is still under threat. We run a human activity monitoring programme designed to monitor the amount of illegal fishing carried out in the marine park and fishing reserves surrounding Blue Bay. Outings are carried out twice a week at 7am by boat, kayak, SUP or beach patrol. Data is collected and stored on an excel spreadsheet where it can be analysed and summarised in a monthly report, which can then be sent to the local government.
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.
9th to 23rd July 2018
16th July to 30th July 2018
30th July to 13th August 2018
13th to 27th August 2018
27th August to 10th September 2018
10th to 24th September 2018
24th September to 8th October 2018
8th to 22nd October 2018
22nd October to 5th November 2018
5th to 19th November 2018
19th November to 3rd December 2018
3rd to 17th December 2018
17th to 31st December 2018
7th to 21st January 2019
21st January to 4th February 2019
4th to 18th February 2019
18th February to 4th March 2019
4th to 18th March 2019
18th March to 1st April 2019
1st to 15th April 2019
15th April to 29th April 2019
29th April to 13th May 2019
13th to 27th May 2019
27th May to 10th June 2019
10th to 24th June 2019
24th June to 8th July 2019
Long-Term Internship Programmes:
*Please note all internships are available for 3 month periods, you can select the dates you wish to apply for in the application form*
1. Lagoon Monitoring: Available from 14th January to 31st December 2019
2. Volunteer Coordinator: Available from 1st September to 30th November 2018 and from 14th January to 31st December 2019
3. Coral Farming Intern: Available from 14th January to 31st December 2019
4. Human Activity: Available from 1st September to 30th November 2018 and from 14th January to 31st December 2019
5. Turtle Monitoring: Available from 14th January to 31st December 2019
The above dates are just a guideline and we can be flexible if you want to start/leave on another date than those listed above. You can join for a minimum of 2 weeks 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 methodologies during this time. If you join as an intern, you will need to commit for at least 3 months in duration. Any questions, please email Victoria.McNeil@workingabroad.com
The cost for the short-term volunteer programme for 2 weeks is £785, 3 weeks is £1020, 4 weeks is £1285, 5 weeks is £1545, 6 weeks is £1805 and 8 weeks is £2,330. Included in this price is accommodation in self-catered house with kitchen, research and snorkelling equipment, all activities that form part of the volunteering programme, airport pickup and drop off 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, 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. Volunteers are collected from the airport on arrival and dropped off on departure.
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."