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. 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 charismatic and unique marine mega and micro fauna.
Population growth and removal of foreign aid has lead to the coastal zones being under chronic stress from socioeconomic anthropogenic pressures. Increased deforestation causes sedimentation to the reefs and cutting down 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 map coral, identify reef fish and invertebrates, study abundance of indicator fish species and possibly sight whale sharks. Diving under the supervision of a professional dive officer, you will become confident and comfortable underwater. Your results will determine the biodiversity of these waters and help formulate future management plans.
Other activities include surveying mangroves, a vital buffer against storm surges caused by cyclones and an important part of the coastal ecosystem.
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 and villages to explain Frontier's work and promote conserving the environment. 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 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 transects and interviews, 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 locating and mapping 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.
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, a rich source 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 trigger fish and parrot fish, assessment of algal and coral cover to determine the extent of coral bleaching and damage and line intercept transects for benthic life and 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 indications 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 achieved it 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.
0630: Mangrove bird survey
0700: Breakfast! - possibly warm bread, cebada (rice porridge) or sandwiches
0730: On the boat for survey diving or dive training
1200: Lunch time: beans with veg and rice (and soy sauce!)
1330: Beach clean
1500: Snorkel search for invertebrates or reef clean at the local reef
1630: Revision, presentation or quiz time
1800: Dinner time - time to revise the days activities and relax with a hearty meal of rice and beans!
*This itinerary should only be considered as an example of the kind of activities and timescales to expect. Actual itineraries may vary depending on the season and the requirements of the project.