Volunteer to protect coral reefs and coastal habitats in Ranobe, Madagascar.

Reef Doctor

Madagascar Marine Conservation and Diving


Who: Reef Doctor

Where: Ifaty, Bay of Ranobe, Madagascar

Focus: Coral reef surveying and coastal habitat conservation

When: All year round:

  • Jul-Oct: Humpback whale watching
  • Jan-Feb: Cyclone season and highest temps
  • June-Oct: Winter/Spring and cooler temps.

Duration: 3 to 12 weeks (options available):

  • Reef Doctor EcoDiver: 3-5 weeks
  • Reef Doctor Research Assistant: 6-12 weeks
  • Divemaster Internships: Available for min. 12 weeks

NGO Internships: Available for 2-6 months

Suitability: Over 18s

Cost: 3 weeks from:

  • Non-certified divers: GBP 1200
  • Open Water certified: GBP 1100
  • Advanced certified: GBP 1000

As a volunteer, you will:

  • Gain first-hand experience of the workings of a marine conservation NGO.
  • Assist the team in their core research, management and conservation projects, including coral gardening, aquaculture, artificial reefs, turtle tagging and release, fisheries monitoring, and reforestation.
  • Learn about the marine biology and ecology of one of the most extensive barrier reef systems in the world and its associated marine habitats such as seagrass beds and mangroves.
  • Become a PADI Advanced Open Water diver.
  • Learn to ID commercially important reef species and coral reef health indicator species, including fish, benthic life, and invertebrates.
  • Conduct coral reef and marine habitat surveys.
  • Gain experience in data recording and data input protocols.
  • Undertake fisheries catch assessments with the local fisheries team.
  • Help the aquaculture team in the maintenance and monitoring of seaweed and sea cucumber farms, with the opportunity to visit other villages in the bay where this is being implemented.
  • Experience life living alongside a traditional Malagasy fishing community and gain insight into the unique Vezo culture.
  • Participate in the local environmental education initiatives –  Kids’ Club and Junior Reef Doctors.
  • Help teach English classes for adults.
  • Receive weekly Malagasy classes in order to better interact with the local community.
  • Spend weekends enjoying many tourist attractions such as pirogue trips, various water sports, Spiny Forest and national park visits, and humpback whale watching (July–October).

Scuba Diving:

Dive Training: All volunteers must be PADI Advanced Open water certified (or equivalanent) in order to survey. Full dive training is available on site.

Rescue Diver: Course available on 8+ week expeditions for an additional fee.

Divemaster Internship: Available for a min. 12-week expedition.

The Base

Accommodation: Located on the beach at the edge of Ifaty, a small and traditional Malagasy fishing village. Life is very basic, with no mains electricity or running water. Volunteers shower with buckets in enclosed wooden stalls using water from the on-site well. There are wooden toilet stalls with drop-toilets.

Sleeping: Single-room huts and shared dormitories.  For an additional cost, volunteers can upgrade to one of the beachfront brick bungalows complete with en-suite shower/toilet (bucket-based water system).

Food: 3 meals a day of Western and Malagasy cuisine.

Working week: Monday to Friday (5-7am to 5pm); fun dives on Saturday.

Size: Max. 8 volunteers per month.

Support: UK based support/communication; Pre-departure support and pre-departure guides.

Transport: Airport pick up in Toliara and transport to the Reef Doctor site in Ifaty.


The next step: Visit Reef Doctor for more information and to book.
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