Madagascar Marine Conservation N.G.O. Internship

Frontier

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Escape to Madagascar – the magical island which is home to some of the world's most spectacular and least explored dive sites. The crystal clear waters host a dazzling array of pristine marine habitats and support a huge diversity and abundance of marine creatures. The vivid multi-coloured corals and luxuriant sea grass beds provide rich feeding grounds for an extraordinary array of colourful reef fish, rays, sea urchins, anemones, octopus and even sea turtles. While barracuda, sharks, dolphins, migrating whales and shoals of pelagics cruise the deep blue waters offshore. You can explore this exquisite, untarnished underwater world as you work on the island of Nosy Be. Meaning ‘Big Island’ in Malagasy this location certainly lives up to its name. You will discover and chart extensive coastal areas, record healthy populations of fish and coral cover, and learn to identify a wide range of intertidal creatures from tiny Hermit Crabs to sparkling sea anemones. You will discover lush mangrove forests; the unique ecosystem which straddles the land and the ocean. You'll learn how artisanal fishing communities live and utilise the rich marine resources. You will discover which groups of marine organisms are being harvested sustainably and which are being over exploited or hunted to extinction. Your days will be eventful; the work will be challenging, rewarding and fun. Your discoveries will be of huge benefit to the conservation of these fabulous coral reefs and you will gain immense satisfaction from knowing that you have helped protect these precious natural resources for future generations. The results from your investigations will supply vital information on the Madagascan coastline to enable the sustainable management of natural resources in the region and the protection of the marine wildlife.

PROJECT HIGHLIGHTS

  • Helping to preserve Madagascar’s marine and coastal biodiversity
  • Work on data from some of the world's best dive sites
  • Make lifelong friends and return with incredible stories, photos and memories
  • Extend your experience of tropical marine and coastal zone conservation field work

PROJECT REQUIREMENTS

  • CV required
  • Minimum 2 month placement
  • Relevant academic qualifications to at least degree level
  • Some experience of coastal zone or marine field work
  • Diving (you may be able to dive train on the project prior to your internship)

WHAT DOES THE PROJECT DO?

An Exotic Island Paradise

165 million years of isolation have created a globally important biodiversity treasure with over 80% of species endemic to this island paradise. But, an increasing population is having a devastating impact, causing deforestation and erosion; the red soil running into the seas has led to the sadly evocative name of "the bleeding island". The Malagasy government is now working with international conservation and aid agencies to halt this destruction and save the island's invaluable biodiversity, and Frontier volunteers are an integral part of this effort.

Record Marine Biodiversity

Marine SCUBA and snorkel surveys are used to collect data and map coral, identify reef and commercial fish, and possibly record whales and turtles. Diving under the supervision of a professional dive officer, you will become confident and comfortable with working underwater. Your results of you surveys will determine the biodiversity of these waters and help formulate future management plans. Other activities include surveying mangroves, a vital buffer against elements such as tsunamis, and also documenting coastal invertebrate, bird and reptile populations, an important part of a vibrant coastal ecosystem. Marine conservation interns are invited to join the project for 2 months minimum.    

Malagasy Culture & Communities

Working alongside the Malagasy people will give you an insight into their extraordinary culture. You may even be introduced to some of their more exotic customs such as the ‘Turning of the Bones' festival. Community work includes environmental education in local schools to explain Frontier's work, and accompanying local fishermen to record their catches of fish, sharks and turtles. The data from your investigations will supply vital information on the coastline for the Madagascan National Programme.

WHAT WILL I BE DOING?

The marine research and conservation programme is run in association with L'Institut Halieutique et des Sciences Marine (IHSM), with whom Frontier has been in partnership since 2000. This research and conservation project aims to provide the local communities, stakeholders and government bodies with the information they need to design and implement management plans for the future protection of this pristine marine ecosystem. To gather the data needed you will be diving or snorkelling regularly (weather permitting) with weekends off.  If you need dive training we may be able to offer this prior to your internship (extra cost applies). Your activities will involve locating and mapping the extensive, pristine coral reefs and studying the various communities existing on them. You'll also explore the luxuriant mangrove forests and record the rich variety of organisms living there and in the other intertidal zones.  Whilst snorkelling or diving you will discover dense sea grass beds rich sources of nutrients for the marine communities.  You will be required to use a wide range of research skills and scientific techniques including: underwater visual census of reef and commercial fish such as trigger fish and parrot fish, assessment of algal and coral cover to determine the extent of coral bleaching and damage (very little reported so far), and line intercept transects for benthic life and indicator invertebrate species such as nudibranchs. You will record observations of the feeding habits and behaviour patterns of a range of marine life. You may even get to study the impact of potentially destructive fishing methods on the corals reefs, study the effects of global warming on marine communities or note any indication of the impact of the marine-curio trade on endangered marine invertebrates. Whilst snorkelling or diving, you'll see an extraordinary array of animals from colourful reef fish species to turtles, sea cucumbers to feathery starfish, and spiny urchins to octopus. By the end of your project you will be expert at identifying hundreds of coloured and patterned reef fish as well as being an experienced and competent marine survery. Although the work is intense and challenging you'll get immense satisfaction from having survived and from having made a valuable contribution to the conservation of this untarnished marine wilderness. You will return home with with excellent field work experience, thousands of photos, lots of new friends, a wealth of fascinating stories and extraordinary memories. Your co workers will be committed, energetic and dynamic with a  mix of ages and experiences, they will all share a passion for travelling in developing countries and working in marine wildlife conservation. Your staff colleagues will be young, friendly individuals who are highly experienced in their research field and may have started their careers as Frontier volunteers.


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