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Mozambique Marine Research & Whale Shark Conservation


Mozambique Marine Research & Whale Shark Conservation

Project Highlights

Some of the activities you will get involved in may include:
Whale Shark (All year)
We are lucky enough to see whale sharks (Rhincodon typus) year-round, where they are seen mostly from the water surface during our Ocean Safari snorkelling trips. Whilst on the boat, we record an array of environmental, temporal, anatomical, and behavioural information to try and uncover the population demographic trends in sightings and potential conflict with the local commercial and fishing sectors. We take photo-identification images to add to the global whale shark database, Wildbook for Whale Sharks, as you learn how to individually ID your whale sharks and view its previous sightings, migration, and more! You will receive presentations on tutorials on the latest whale shark research globally and locally to Mozambique while contributing to our ongoing efforts to unravel all that is unknown about the largest fish in the ocean!

Manta Ray (All year)
Much like the whale shark, our other mega-planktivore, the manta rays, are also available year-round in Tofo. We have 2 species: the reef (Mobula alfredi) and giant/oceanic (Mobula birostris) manta rays. Both species can be seen feeding on plankton whilst snorkelling on our Ocean Safari tours, or being cleaned by reefer fish on the diving reefs on our 25-30m dive sites. We also take a plethora of data concerning environmental, temporal, anatomical, and behavioural data akin to the whale sharks. We have a database of manta-ray photo-identification images, giving us the opportunity to investigate their population demographics, migration/residency, individual life stories and much more!

Turtles (All year)
We record sightings of local species, including their sex, health, and behaviour. We have a collection of photographs of the side of their face and top-down, currently contributing to the ‘Tartarugas Para Amanha’ turtle ID database. On the beaches, we monitor nesting and keep mortality records. Four species of turtles are found in the Tofo area of Mozambique, including the Green turtle (C. mydas), Loggerhead turtle (C. caretta), Hawksbill turtle (E. imbricata), and the Leatherback turtle (D. coriacea).

Dolphin (All year)
You will be collecting data of dolphin numbers and behaviour that will be uploaded onto databases to share with our marine partners. Of particular interest to our current study is dolphin behaviour vis-a-vis tourism.

Humpback Whales (June - October)
Monitor the numbers of Humpback Whales on their seasonal migration up and down the coast. This involves sand dune based observations using binoculars and boat-based observations recording the numbers of Whales, the makeup of the pods and the behaviours witnessed.

Reef Health (All year)
This involves carrying out underwater data collection on indicator species of coral fish and the condition and cover of coral and echinoderms on the reefs.

Remote Camera Trap (All year)
Our long-life remote camera trap is laid down for up to five days at a time, making recordings of the megafauna moving through the cleaning station areas while we are not present. As SCUBA divers, we make noisy bubbles and can influence the behaviour of animals. Our remote cameras are used to assess the abundance, frequency, and biodiversity of megafauna life, as well as the dynamics of the cleaning station fish themselves during daylight hours throughout the year. The remote camera traps are new, expensive
technology that has great potential to implement new research projects and support reef protection efforts in Mozambique. During your stay you will likely observe our research staff deploying and retrieving the remote camera and help with video analysis. If you are interested in taking on one of the many project proposals based on the video data from these cameras, let us know during your pre-departure project consultation.

Cetacean Acoustics (All year)
Our SoundTrap hydrophone is used both for humpback whale reef-moored acoustic monitoring between July-October and boat-based dolphin acoustics monitoring. You will learn
the deployment process of both techniques (depending on which time of year you visit) and learn the data analysis processes of both projects using spectrograph software.

Different projects focus on fisheries, seahorses, stingrays, guitarfish, torpedo rays, leopard sharks, reef sharks, mobula rays, orca, and so much more!

* Please note that the activities listed above are based on availability and may vary by season. These are samples of activities that are volunteers are likely to participate in.

Volunteer Role

The project involves conducting multiple types of research with different species. The following is a summary of the type of research and conservation activities you may be involved with. Some of the activities are conducted all year round. Our coordinating project scientists will teach you how to assist with data collection throughout your project duration. In order to carry out many of these activities, you will need to be able or willing to learn to scuba dive. An open or advanced internationally recognized diving course is provided at the cost of the program to facilitate this (not
included in the 2 week option).

You will also need to be a capable swimmer (able to swim 100m unassisted) and snorkeler. Being able to hold your breath to dive down would be an advantage but is not required.

Day in the life of a volunteer

07:00: Wake up and enjoy a buffet-style breakfast overlooking Tofo bay and the Indian Ocean.
07:30: Set up your diving gear at the dive centre and get the equipment necessary for data collection.
08:00: Receive a dive briefing and research briefing from MRC staff. Head out on your morning dives!
11:30: Return from morning dives, dry off, and enter the dive log data.
12:00: Lunch hour! You will have a daily lunch box provided with a sandwich, snacks, and refreshments provided at ourbeach-side restaurant.
13:00: Data management time! Enter your dive data, such as photo IDs, behavioural videos, and your own project data. If needed, some analysis or write-up of your own personal
14:30: Afternoon presentation with coffee/refreshments on an MRC project/research technique, followed by Q&A and time with your in-field supervisor.
15:30: Work day complete! Go for a surf, yoga, or any of the other activities in Tofo. The office stays open until 17:00, so you are welcome to use our WIFI for continuing your work, contacting home, or whatever else you may wish to spend your afternoon doing!
18:00: Dinner at the deck restaurant overlooking Tofo beach at your accommodation, Tilak Lodge!

Weekly Itinerary for Your Experience

Week 1: Arrive on the Sunday before the first Monday of the month in Tofo. Be oriented to your accommodation, the dive centre, research centre, the staff, and Tofo. We’ll start you on your dive course, receive initial presentations, and go out on your first dives and ocean safaris in Tofo!

Week 2: Learn the data collection methods for our various projects and put it into practice! Gain understanding of the nuances of citizen science, Mozambique living, and the latest scholarship on all our most at-risk species in the region.

Week 3: Confidently collect and enter data for our ongoing research projects. Receive tutorials on data analysis on select projects (depending on time of year, your personal interests and projects) and put that analysis into practice. If applicable, by week 3 we expect personal projects to have started (depending on the plan agreed following your pre-departure consultation).

Week 4: Confidently collecting, entering, and analysing data for our ongoing and your personal research projects. You will tend to use the mornings on or in the water and the afternoons entering, analysing, and, under the guidance of your in-field All Out Africa supervisor, beginning to draft your project report, social media posts, and other deliverables required by your course.

It is important to note that daily activities may change due to weather conditions or other circumstances beyond our control at any given time. Attention to the daily posted schedule will be vital.

Day to Day Itinerary For Your Experience

Day 1 Fly into Inhambane Airport, usually connections are available from OR Tambo Airport Johannesburg or Maputo Mozambique where you will be met by an All Out Africa staff member who will transfer with you to your accommodation.
Day 2 Your orientation will start with a presentation by the coordinating project scientists to prepare you for your project. You will then be shown around Tofo and have a tour of the nearby city of Inhambane.
Day 3-5 Begin your scuba diving course which usually lasts between 4 & 7 days depending on weather conditions. This is an internationally accredited course and upon completion you will get a certificate permitting you to scuba dive to 18m anywhere in the world. Those who already hold an open water course will complete an advanced dive course (qualifies you to dive to 30m).

If you are a 2-week volunteer on the program or already have both open and advanced dive qualifications you will begin the activities described under day 8-13 on the itinerary instead.

After scuba class you will be treated with a series of interesting educational talks on some of the amazing megafauna you will be swimming with over the next few weeks including how to ID several different kinds of fish species.

Day 6-7 At weekends there is time to explore the stunning palm-fringed beaches of Tofo: relax, surf, swim and enjoy your beautiful surroundings. During the first weekend you may also be completing your open or advanced water certificate.
Day 8-12 Once your dive course is completed you will officially be an assistant scientist! Your dives in the morning/afternoon will be for the purpose of collecting data and the second part of the day you will be responsible for communicating that data into the proper vehicle for safekeeping and analysis at a later date.

On days when you are not in the water, our social projects guide may take you on activities around Tofo such as Portuguese lessons, historical walking tours and/or local handicraft creation.

It is important to note that daily activities may change due to weather conditions or other circumstances beyond our control at any given time. Attention to the daily posted schedule will be vital.


Arrival transfer
Three meals a day
Comprehensive orientation to the country
Research dives, ocean safaris, and any other transport or support required for the project
All scuba equipment is included
Scuba equipment
An internationally recognized dive qualification (If included in your chosen package)

Additional Information for Mozambique Program

As part of the project activities, you will complete an Internationally Recognized Dive Qualification during a normal 4-week program, along with 11 or 12 ocean activities (ocean safaris or research dives) depending on the dive course chosen. Numbers of ocean safaris and research dives are calculated accordingly for longer/shorter programs.

Ask for our fish-list if you would like to get a head-start reading about all the different species that you will be seeing on our dives!

Mandatory Volunteer Requirements

- Minimum age of 18. Children and youth aged 4 to 18 are accepted if accompanied by their parents and physically and mentally capable of actively participating in the activities.
- Copy of Passport
- Specify medical history, allergies, dietary requirements (if applicable). Volunteers with pre-existing health conditions or who are over 45 years old must also bring a medical clearance letter allowing them to dive.
- CV in English.
- You must be a capable swimmer (able to swim 200m unassisted) and snorkeler. Being able to hold your breath to dive down would be an advantage but is not required.
- Every volunteer must complete a PADI medical form before arrival.
- Volunteers who sign up for two-weeks must have either the open or advanced dive water certificate.
- Volunteers who have pre-existing medical conditions or are over 45 years of age must also bring a medical clearance letter permitting them to dive.
- Any volunteers taking Mefloquine, Lariam, Mephliam, Tropicure (or any other derivatives) as antimalarial treatment (prophylaxis) will not be permitted to dive, as it causes increased risks when diving. Please advise your doctor that you are going on a dive holiday and request another suitable anti-malarial treatment.
- Accredited divers must bring their dive cards (listing their last logged dive) with them to the project site as proof.
- Dive-accredited volunteers not wanting a dive but who have not logged a dive within the last six months of their project start dates must complete a Scuba Review before they can participate in their research dives. The cost of a fee will be paid locally and directly to the Dive Centre with whom we partner.
- The open water certificate qualifies volunteers to dive up to 18m. While it is not essential to dive at our deeper sites (20-30m), if you wish to participate in deep diving (up to 30m) you will either need to complete a Deep Dive course at a small additional cost paid locally or an Advanced Water Course at an additional cost.

What Makes a Good Volunteer?

Volunteers need to be flexible and keep an open mind concerning their placements as situations can arise beyond our control which could require you to be placed at a different project than the one you have initially chosen. We will of course always do our utmost to fulfill your initial wishes but do remember that where you are going is quite different from where you are coming and as such one should be prepared for things not always going according to plan.

Volunteering and intercultural travel share a common trait: the more you put into it, the more you get out of it. This program is designed for proactive individuals and groups that are prepared to adapt to the local environment and its current needs. Naturally, the scheduling and activities of our program are subject to change. Alterations in activities are mainly due to changes in local conditions, which we believe is part of what makes overseas programs the interesting adventure and incredible learning experience that they are.

How Long Should I Volunteer?

Our projects range from 1 week up to approx. 30 weeks. Projects have a specified minimum stay, then it’s up to you how long you can commit. In our experience the longer you stay the more you will gain, as your understanding of the project broadens and you take on more responsibilities. Every volunteer will be given a certificate of appreciation at the end of their stay as a symbol of volunteering stay.

What’s included?


During your stay, you will be accommodated in Tilak Lodge, Tofo. We offer dorm-style accommodation (bedding included) with wifi and lockers, located on the beach front, with a restaurant/bar on site.

Local transport

Arrival transfer is included. Fly into Inhambane Airport, where you will be met by an All Out Africa staff member who will transfer with you to your accommodation.


Three meals a day will be provided; some on a self-serve basis and other cooked for you. If you have any dietary needs, please inform us prior to departure. We will try our best to accommodate your requests, but we cannot guarantee it.

Additional info

Below is a list of optional extras that you are able to arrange whilst in-country to make the most of your time in Tofo and Mozambique:
3-day dive tours of Zavora/Vilankulos
Quad bike tours
Island dhow boat tours
Inhambane museum tour
Horse-riding on the beach

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