Volunteer to protect whale sharks and turtles on Mafia Island, Tanzania.


Tanzania Whale Sharks and Turtles


Who: Frontier

Where: Utende, Mafia Island, Tanzania

Focus: Monitoring whale sharks and turtles

When: All year round | Project starts 1st and 3rd Monday of every month (alternative dates on request)

Marine Life Seasons:

  • Whale shark monitoring between November and January only.
  • Sea turtles generally nest from April to July, with eggs hatching between June and August.

Duration: 1-20 weeks

Suitability: Over 18s. Group bookings available.

Cost: 1 week starts from GBP 745.

As a volunteer, you will:

  • Help to monitor and conserve coastal sea shore environments and rare Indian Ocean marine life.
  • Conduct surveys on the transient whale shark population (November to January), and promote the welfare of these creatures.
  • Contribute towards an educational/awareness programme with local fisherman and tourists on whale sharks.
  • Play an active role in the conservation of sea turtles by monitoring their habitat by patrolling the beaches.
  • Witness turtles nesting and watch young turtles hatch and make their way to the sea.
  • Learn to identify hundreds of species of reef fish, corals and invertebrates.
  • Become an experienced and competent snorkeler.
  • Swim and snorkel from the beach camp and explore the reefs of the Indian Ocean, recording observations of the feeding habits and behaviour patterns of a range of marine life
  • Study the impact of fishing on the coral reefs and local whale shark populations
  • Survey, map, and record important marine habitats such as seagrass beds and mangrove forests.
  • Get the chance to swim with dolphins, rays and turtles and even be lucky enough to spot migrating humpbacks.
  • Report the effects of global warming on marine communities
  • Conduct awareness raising activities with tourists visiting Mafia Island.
  • Take part in Environmental education days in the local schools and community groups.
  • Learn to dive, or advance your dive skills through PADI courses (at an extra cost).

The Base

Accommodation: Volunteers stay at Frontier’s simple beach camp made up of communal bandas, huts made from makuti (woven palm leaves), poles and mud. Shower with a jug or a bucket of water. Occasionally, volunteers travel to a remote beach and stay in a ‘satellite camp’ over night, usually a mosquito net pitched on a beach.

Sleeping: Beds constructed from wooden poles.

Food: 3 healthy meals a day cooked over a charcoal stove. Volunteers share the cooking duties.

Support: 24-hour in-country volunteer support; International HQ emergency support and back-up; UK residential briefing weekend available.

Transport: Airport pick up and first night hostel accommodation in Dar es Salaam can be arranged at extra fee.


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