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Madagascar Marine Conservation N.G.O. Internship

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Madagascar Marine Conservation N.G.O. Internship

Dive in some of the least explored coral reefs in the world and research and protect pristine coastal ecosystems on a Frontier-Madagascar marine conservation internship.

Prices from $3,245

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 seagrass 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 ecosystems which straddle 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 and 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.



  • 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


  • 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) 


Location Madagascar
Activities Locating, mapping and studying the coral reef data
Underwater visual censuses of reef and commercial fish
Assessment of algal and coral cover
Line intercept transects for benthic life and indicator invertebrate species
Study the impact of potentially destructive fishing methods on the corals reefs
Note any indication of the impact of the marine curio trade on endangered marine invertebrates

Airport pickup each Monday of the month. Alternative start date possible, additional £50 applies for pickup, please speak to an adviser.
Transfer to town centre and beach camp from Nosy Be Airport each Monday of the month

Accommodation Beach camp 



Before you go

Pre-departure support & documentation
Travel & medical advice & documentation
Advice on visas & equipment
Discounted medical kit
Free Frontier t-shirt
UK residential briefing weekend including food, accommodation and training (extra cost applies)


Airport pickup each Monday of the month. Alternative start date possible, additional $85 applies for pickup, please speak to an adviser.
Internal ground transfers & in-transit accommodation each Monday of the month. Alternative start dates possible
Project orientation and training
In-country emergency support

24-hour international HQ back-up



A variety of qualifications are available on many of our projects. For example, BTEC certificates and diplomas on our Group conservation projects and TEFL certificates and BTECs on most of our teaching projects. You may also be able to gain a CoPE to support your university application. For more information on these qualifications, please see the qualifications section of our website or ask your volunteer advisor.


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. Frontier Madagascar’s conservation project is located on the island of Nosy Be in the northwest Mozambique Channel. Characterised by shallow continental shelf waters, the mangrove and coral reef ecosystems are home to a diverse array of associated fauna and flora and many charismatic and unique marine mega- and micro-fauna.

Population growth and removal of foreign aid has led to the coastal zones being under chronic stress from socioeconomic anthropogenic pressures. Increased deforestation causes sedimentation to the reefs and teh cutting down of mangroves for wood and building materials has removed many precious nursery areas for coral reef fauna.

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

Through SCUBA and snorkel surveys you will measure coral cover, identify reef fish and invertebrates, study the behaviour of fish and possibly sight whale sharks. Diving under the supervision of a professional dive officer, you will become confident and comfortable underwater. By qualifying as part of the survey team you will assist in quantifying the different facets of coral reef diversity and community health, which assist in formulating future management plans.

Other activities include surveying mangroves, a vital buffer against storm surges caused by cyclones and important part of the coastal ecosystem, and regular beach cleans.

Malagasy Culture & Communities

Working alongside the Malagasy people will give you an insight into their extraordinary culture. You may even be invited to some of their ceremonies such as local weddings or the Donia street festival. Community work includes environmental awareness days in local schools to explain Frontier's work and interviewing local fishermen on their catches and opinions on the subject of reef health. The data from your investigations will supply vital information on the coastline for the Madagascan national programme.


The marine research and conservation programme is run in association with L'Institut Halieutique et des Sciences Marine 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 undertake diving surveys and snorkel surveys, weather permitting, mangrove searches and beach cleans, with one day off each week. If you need dive training we will train you up on the Frontier camp at the start of the project. Your activities will involve recording the live coral cover and benthic make-up of the extensive, pristine coral reefs and studying the various communities existing on them. The number of dives completed each week on the project depends on the quarterly science plan and itinerary as set by the Frontier field staff.

As an intern, you will be given additional responsibilities to assist the running of the project and training of new volunteers. These include teaching volunteers the species surveyed, assessing volunteers to ensure quality of data collection and assisting in the day to day running of the diving programme.

You'll also explore the important mangrove forests and record the rich variety of organisms living there and in the other intertidal zones. Whilst diving you will discover dense seagrass beds, rich sources of nutrients for the marine communities. You will deploy a wide range of newly learned research skills and scientific techniques, including underwater visual census of reef and commercial fish such as triggerfish and parrot fish, assessment of algal and coral cover to determine the extent of coral bleaching and damage, line intercept transects for benthic life and monitoring indicator invertebrate species such as nudibranchs. 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 diving and snorkelling, you'll see an extraordinary array of animals from colourful reef fish species to turtles, sea cucumbers to cushion stars and spiny urchins to octopuses. By the end of your project you will be capable of identifying a wide range of colourful and patterned reef organisms, as well as being an experienced and competent diver. Although the work is intense and challenging you'll get immense satisfaction from having got through it all and from having made a valuable contribution to the conservation of this marine environment. You will return home with vast numbers of photos, lots of new friends, a wealth of fascinating stories and extraordinary memories.

You'll find your team to be a fun, dynamic mix of ages and experiences with members who all share a passion about travelling in developing countries and conserving nature. Your staff will be a friendly and welcoming group who are highly experienced in their research field and many of whom will have been Frontier volunteers at an earlier stage in their career.


Volunteers arriving weekly on a Monday will be welcomed by a Frontier representative at Nosy Be airport. From here it's a short taxi or minibus ride from the airport to the centre of the vibrant town of Hellville. If you arrive before noon, you will transfer to your project site and be introduced to the Frontier-Madagascar programme on the same day. If you arrive later in the day, you will stay overnight at the Frontier volunteer house in town and transfer to your project site the following day.

You will be welcomed onto camp by Frontier and introduced to the Frontier-Madagascar research and conservation programme. You will meet staff and receive initial project briefings, including an introduction to the work programme and to the field research techniques used, as well as being given health and safety lectures, so make sure your medical kit is complete and start reading your Safety and Medical Guides now.


Check out our Camp Tour video! 

You will be living on the beach camp in the village of Ambalahonko on the island of Nosy Be alongside other Frontier personnel. We aim to provide you with a unique and memorable living experience. The Frontier camp was built by Frontier volunteers working with local craftsmen, using traditional techniques and locally sourced materials. The camp which is situated in a clearing on the beach has been designed to blend in with the surrounding landscape. Camp life is very simple, unsophisticated and fun.

You will be sleeping in simple communal bandas, local style dwellings, on a roll mat under your mosquito net. There are outdoor showers, water is supplied from the local village and you cook over an open campfire, so prepare for the basic lifestyle!


Check out our video on Frontier Gap Year TV from Frontier-Madagascar, showing you volunteer life on this beautiful island.


Food on camp is simple and nutritious and consists largely of locally sourced fresh vegetables, rice, beans and noodles, all of which are purchased from nearby communities, thereby helping to support the local economy. Luxuries such as chocolate, peanut butter and drinking chocolate are only available in the main town, so make sure you stock up before heading to your field camp.

Part of your role on camp will be to help with the cooking. Creating spectacular meals over an open campfire and creating your own fires for cooking will become second nature, so get your cookbooks out now and start thinking up recipes!  The local villagers sell homemade delicacies every day just outside camp, including banana macari, fresh bread, meat and veggie sambos. The locals also put on dinners once a week to allow you to integrate with the village and sample their food.

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The Frontier-Madagascar camp is fun and in your spare time you'll have opportunities to swim and snorkel, play football against the unbeatable local side or try out beach volleyball. Alternatively you may enjoy a traditional Saturday night themed camp party, play backgammon, poker or chess, or join in a camp quiz night. After a long hard day of sailing and diving you may prefer to relax with a drink and sway in the camp hammock, or sit around the campfire and chat to your new friends.  Later you will drift off to sleep lulled by the soothing lapping of the Indian Ocean.

dive courses run monthly commencing on the first monday of the month

  • Single Day snorkelling off the boats $17
  • Single Day Dive $51
  • Double Dive $85
  • 4-dive package $170
  • 10-dive package $340


  • Discover Scuba Diving $110
  • Open Water Dive Course $595
  • Advanced Open Water $561
  • Emergency First Responder $221
  • Rescue Diver $595
  • Dive Master $1,275 (PADI professional membership fees not included)

*Medical certificate is mandatory for participation in dive courses


  • Hellville - 1 hour boat journey at own cost
  • Attractions e.g. Lemurland, Donia Festival
  • Banks / ATMs; Bank of Africa, BFV-Société Générale, BNI-CL
  • Bars / cafes
  • Boats to the mainland & Boat Hire
  • Hostels and hotels
  • Internet cafe
  • Medical clinic
  • Nightclub
  • Pharmacy
  • Post office
  • Street food
  • Supermarket
  • Taxis to the rest of the island
  • Telecom office
  • Traditional markets
  • Western style restaurants
  • Western Union


8 weeks $3,245

12 weeks $4,595

20 weeks $6,795

extra week $395

PADI Open Water and Advanced Open Water training $1,156, PADI Advanced Open Water training $561


Every Monday of the month

Alternative dates available on request.

Ideally flights to Madagascar and connections to Nosy Be (Fascene) should be arranged for this arrival date.


You can join this project for a minimum of 2 months

This project is available throughout the Christmas period


Before you go

  • Pre-departure support & documentation
  • Travel & medical advice & documentation
  • Advice on visas & equipment
  • Discounted medical kit
  • Free Frontier t-shirt
  • UK residential briefing weekend including food, accommodation and training (extra cost applies)


  • Food
  • Accommodation
  • Airport pickup (for first Monday of the month arrivals). Alternative start dates possible, additional $85 applies for pickup, please speak to an adviser 
  • Transfer to town centre and beach camp from Nosy Be Airport on first Monday of the month. Alternative start dates available
  • Local orientation and training
  • Dive training PADI Open Water(2 week +)  available at extra cost $595
  • Dive training PADI Advanced Open Water (4 weeks+) available at extra cost $561
  • In-country emergency support
  • 24-hour international HQ back-up
  • Dive training courses run monthly starting on the first Monday of the month. Dive training to PADI Open Water or PADI Advanced Open Water (depending on the duration of your stay) price includes PIC cards, PADI membership and use of Frontier project equipment and diving equipment, including tanks, regs, BCDs, weights, compressor etc
  • Discounted further dive courses: PADI Emergency First Response ($221), PADI Rescue Diver ($595), and PADI Divemaster ($1,275) qualifications


Nearest airport(s): Nossi-Be (NOS)


  • Flights
  • Visas
  • Insurance

For detailed information on flights, visas and insurance, click here.


Please read our legal statement regarding the running of NGO projects.

To apply for this placement, click on "Apply Now" below. Fill in the short application form and one of our advisers will then call you back to answer any questions and make sure this is the perfect placement for you. Applying doesn't cost a penny and you won't pay anything until you're completely happy and you're ready to reserve your place.

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