Escape to Madagascar – the magical island which is home to some of the world's most spectacular and least explored tropical forests, white sand beaches and coral reefs. The crystal clear waters host a dazzling array of pristine marine habitats and support a huge diversity and abundance of marine creatures. The tropical forests support a huge diversity of rare and endemic creatures from lemurs to venomless snakes and chameleons.
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 swim and snorkel off the island of Nosy Be. Meaning ‘Big Island’ in Malagasy this location certainly lives up to its name.
Snorkel off the island's dazzling white sand beaches, swim among the clouds of tropical fish in every colour of the rainbow and wander along the empty shores. Let the vibrant culture and friendly communities warmly welcome you. Swim and snorkel from the beach to explore this pristine seascape and you'll discover extensive areas of undamaged coral, healthy populations of multicoloured fish, see turtles and marine mammals, and you'll learn to recognise a wide diversity of inter-tidal animals from tiny hermit crabs to pastel-hued anemones.
On shore apart from relaxing on the island's perfect, undeveloped beaches, you may have the chance to work in the lush mangrove forests, unique ecosystems which straddle water and land. Or you could learn about the activities of the traditional shark fishermen and the inter-tidal gleaning women, as well as discovering and reporting which marine organisms are being sustainably harvested and which are being dangerously depleted.
You will be joining an ongoing conservation and community development project, which means that you could be helping to assess the health of the reef while you snorkel off the beach, or helping local people to learn English to improve their employment prospects. Plus there will be plenty of time to relax under a palm tree and gaze at the sun-drenched ocean or laze in your hammock and enjoy the breeze.
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.
WHAT DOES THE PROJECT DO?
Madagascar is an extraordinary and exotic island paradise. 165 million years of isolation have created a globally important biodiversity treasure with over 80% of species endemic to the island. 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
Threats to the coastal environment on and around Nosy Be are on the up as unregulated tourism is on the increase and the local population is growing. Increasing competition for food means that artisanal fishing techniques such as seine-netting become inadequate and inefficient, encouraging use of less discriminate catch practices such as dynamite fishing. Other threats include the over-harvesting of shark fins, octopus and sea cucumbers and the over-collecting of shells and corals for the expanding marine curio trade.
Your project activities will depend on the time of year you join and the length of your stay but may include surveying mangroves, a vital buffer against elements such as tsunamis, and also documenting coastal bird and reptile populations, an important part of the coastal ecosystem. If you are only able to join the project for 2 or 3 weeks your involvement in the research surveys will be limited but your conservation work will be valuable.
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 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. The research and conservation project aims to provide the local 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 working regularly (weather permitting) with Sunday off. You'll be locating and helping to map the important coastal zone habitats from mangroves and intertidals to offshore shallow reefs and you'll observe the various communities existing on them.
Whilst swimming and shore snorkelling, you may encounter an extraordinary array of animals from turtles to rays, sea cucumbers to feathery starfish, and spiny urchins to octopus. If you're there in the right season your work may even allow you to observe dolphins or gigantic whale sharks.
You will also have the chance to get involved in our community work, perhaps by helping with environmental education days or by helping to teach English to villagers. By the end of your stay you should be able to identify a number of coloured and patterned reef fish, you will have made friends with the local villagers, especially the children, and have obtained an enviable tan. The work is intense and challenging and you'll get immense satisfaction from having survived your beach camping experience and from having made a valuable contribution to the conservation of this untarnished marine wilderness. You will return home with the new friends you've made and a wealth of incredible photos, videos and memories.
You'll find your team to be a fun, dynamic mix of ages and experiences, with members who all share a passion for travelling in developing countries and saving endangered wildlife. Your staff will be young, friendly individuals who are highly experienced in their field and many have also volunteered on a Frontier project earlier in their career.
For further information about Frontier marine conservation work please refer to the publications section of this website.