Mozambican Marine Conservation Project

Work towards integral marine conservation in one of the most marine-rich locations on earth!

In the tiny and idyllic beach town of Tofo, lies an ocean paradise complemented by pristine beaches and the warm waters of the Indian ocean. The coral reefs here are bustling with exceptional marine life, and you’ll find whale sharks, manta rays, reef sharks and even seasonal humpback whales visiting the shorelines, making this location the perfect spot for conservation research and incredible scuba diving!

Monitoring the health of coral reefs, as wells as marine life and their behaviour, is key to understanding the potential threats they face and how to minimise them. With the world’s oceans facing the perils of pollution, climate change, unsustainable fishing practices and poaching, this project was established in 2014 to protect the regions marine megafauna and conserve the underwater ecosystems they inhabit.

As a volunteer, you’ll have the opportunity to complete a world recognised PADI dive qualification, alongside contributing to scientific research and helping to design regulations to preserve and protect marine species and ecosystems in the area. Through research dives, surveys, monitoring, shark tagging and more, you’ll gain knowledge and experience in marine biology and conservation, whilst diving in one of the most species-rich locations in the world. You’ll also take part in a number of community initiatives such as beach clean-ups, school visits and community events, helping to promote marine conservation and education to the people of Tofo. So, to make a difference both above and beneath the waves, dive into this incredibly diverse marine conservation experience today!

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Lauren Mackinnon


Diving with Whale Sharks
Whale Shark Monitoring Diving in a global hotspot for the world’s largest fish, you’ll contribute to the research of whale sharks that visit the area. Over 850 individual whale sharks have been identified just off the coast of Tofo, and as a volunteer, you’ll help to photograph their ‘fingerprint’ markings, as well as any scarring, injuries or abrasions. You’ll also gather information such as sex, behaviour and characteristics of each whale shark, alongside population and GPS location. All data is uploaded to a database and analysed later with the help of the project researchers.
Diving with Manta Rays
Manta Ray Monitoring Over 1000 manta rays have been identified in Tofo over the past 10 years and are regularly spotted on research dives. As a volunteer, you’ll assess the health and behaviour of manta rays that visit the manta reef cleaning stations, as well as assessing the health of the reef itself. You may also have the opportunity to service acoustic listening stations that allow the team to track the tagged reef manta rays’ in the area and their movement patterns. Whilst manta rays are spotted year-round, they have a heavy presence in Tofo during January-June.
Camera Trap Coral Reef Surveys in Tofo Bay
Coral Reef Monitoring Through marine surveys, camera traps and dive logs, volunteers help to monitor the health of Tofo’s coral reefs. As the reefs here support an abundance of marine life including 31 endangered species of sharks, rays, dolphins and turtles, the team are building knowledge on Mozambique’s coral reef ecology in order to preserve the reefs current health status. By monitoring the marine life that visits the reef to feed, clean and rest, the team are able to piece together how all the species fit into this unique underwater ecosystem.
Underwater Camera Survey in Mozambique
Estuary Trips Take weekly trips to the estuary by traditional dhow boat and snorkel through the sandy-bottom reef and mangrove forests where a variety of fascinating marine life live! Here, you will undertake surveys and video transects, collecting data on starfish, sea urchins, eels, sea horses and more, in order to gain insight into the health of these valuable ecosystems. The data collected also supports work with the local government to regulate and protect the area, and because of this research, 9 protected areas have been established in the estuary since 2017!
Local Communities in Tofo Bay
Community Outreach As well as making a difference beneath the waves, you will have the chance to interact and engage with local people and communities. You may take part in beach clean-ups, visiting local schools to educate children on the importance of ocean conservation or attend community meetings and events such as World Oceans Day! The project team find regular opportunities to engage with the local people of Tofo, so you’ll be able to soak up the unique culture of Mozambique!
Shark Tagging in Mozambique
Shark Tagging Join researchers on a day out in the boat, where they will look to safely capture, tag and release sharks, including bull, hammerhead and oceanic blacktip, using acoustic transmitters that will record their movements for up to 10 years! The team are currently tracking 22 sharks, building knowledge on their movements, habit use and feeding ecology to be able to develop policies that promote shark conservation in Mozambique. Please note that this activity is dependent on space availability on the boat and we recommend joining for a minimum of 4 weeks to ensure you get to actively participate.
Marine Biology Lecture on the Mozambican Marine Conservation Project
Scientific Talks and Documentaries The project team have a wealth of specialist marine knowledge and regularly give marine biology talks for you to better understand the aims of the project, as well as learn more about the different species you would have seen during the week. These talks are often tailored around specific volunteer interests and the activities you will have undertaken. Alongside regular talks, the local dive centre also run documentary nights where you can relax while you learn.
Volunteers on the Mozambican Marine Conservation Project
Free Time Tofo is a buzzing beach town with a lot to offer and plenty to keep you busy on your weekends off! Perhaps you’ll want to catch a morning yoga class or organise a surf lesson. There’s also kayaking, water sports, snorkelling and other fun activities at no extra cost (dependant on availability). Tofo offers great nightlife with plenty of venues offering live music and dancing, and the project team will often organise a braai (BBQ) night too!
Humpback Whale Breaching
Humpback Whale Monitoring Programme During the winter months of July to September, hundreds of humpback whales migrate from Antarctica to Southern Africa to mate and give birth. If you are travelling in these months you are likely to see them leaping from the water whilst out at sea, as well as from the comfort of your accommodation! If you would like to solely focus on these majestic creatures and contribute to their conservation efforts during your time here, you can join the specialist Humpback Whale Monitoring Programme which runs from July to September (more information can be found in the project guide - please enquire for a copy)!


If you do not have any dive qualifications, you will spend your first 4 days getting your PADI Open Water qualification. After this, you can take part in all the activities, and if staying for longer than 3 weeks, can also opt to gain additional dive qualifications. If you are already PADI Open Water qualified or above, you do not need to complete any additional courses to take part but can if you wish.

The itinerary below is based on a 13-night stay, however, we recommend joining for a minimum of 3 weeks if you will be completing any dive courses to ensure you have plenty of opportunities to contribute to the research dives and experience all the activities on offer.

Day 1 - The Adventure Begins: You will arrive into Inhambane Airport, where you will be met by a project representative and transferred to the project site (approximately a 45-minute drive). You will then spend the day settling into your accommodation and getting to know the other volunteers and project staff, before getting an early night ready for the week ahead!
Day 2 - 13 - Project Days: Project activities run from Monday – Friday and each week you will join at least 4 research dives, 1 snorkelling trip in the estuary and various community activities alongside data analysis sessions and marine biology talks. Your weekends are free for you to spend at your leisure and there is a lot to see and do in the local area! For more information, and for an example of a typical day on the project, please enquire to receive the project guide.
Day 14 - Final Day: Sadly, today is your final day, so after saying goodbye to your fellow volunteers and the project staff, you’ll transfer back to Inhambane Airport for your return flight home or to continue your independent travel plans.

Start Dates & Prices

To secure a place on this project a deposit of $245 is required at the time of booking, with the remaining balance due any time up to 60 days prior to your start date.

If you do not have a PADI Open Water qualification, you must include a PADI dive course. You can also select this option if you already have your PADI Open Water qualification and would like to complete either your Advanced Open Water or Rescue Diver course.

Duration Price
Select if you would like to include a PADI dive course to view available durations & prices.

Payment breakdown



Enjoy beautiful seafront views from the volunteer house, where you will be allocated a room on a twin-share, same-sex basis (unless volunteering as a couple where double rooms are available). Each room has bedding, fans and mosquito nets. Elsewhere in the volunteer house, you'll find shared bathrooms and kitchen facilities, a bar, relaxation areas - and an outside a pool located right on the beachfront!

Meals & Beverages

A private chef will prepare three meals a day for you in the volunteer house kitchen. Meals will consist of local cuisine with some Western-style dishes and dietary requirements, including vegetarian and vegan diets can also be catered for with prior notice. Tap water is available and safe to drink, and other drinks, such as soft and alcoholic beverages can be purchased for a minimal cost from the local shops and supermarkets. Additionally, there are some bars and restaurants in the local area if you are looking to treat yourself for an evening or weekend!

Project Details

When is the best time to volunteer?

With over 18 reef sites along the 40km coastline around Tofo, it is renowned for the extensive marine megafauna that is regularly spotted throughout the year. You can expect to see whale sharks, reef sharks, hammerhead sharks, manta rays, small-eyed stingrays, eagle rays, bottle-nosed dolphins, bowmouth guitarfish, 3 species of turtle and much, much more.

In winter (July – September), you can also see the incredible humpback whales that make their annual migration from Antarctica to mate and give birth. If you join during this period, we offer a specialist humpback whale monitoring programme which offers the opportunity to study these giants of deep (please enquire for more details).

In terms of weather, Mozambique has a subtropical climate and you can expect daytime temperatures of 30-32°C (86-90°F) throughout most of the year, and even in winter, the temperatures only fall slightly to approximately 27°C (81°F). The rainy season runs from December - March; however, the rain typically falls in short showers and you can still expect blue skies for much of the day.

Average Monthly Weather in Tofo, Mozambique

Getting There

You will need to arrive into Inhambane Airport in Mozambique on your project start date. Upon arrival, you will be met by a project representative who will transfer you to your accommodation (approximately 45 minutes from the airport).

A popular flight route to Inhambane is with LAM Airlines, who operate a daily indirect flight from Johannesburg in South Africa (via Maputo).

Visa Requirements

You will require a tourist visa to join this project and we recommend contacting your local Mozambican embassy or consulate to obtain this prior to arrival. If you are travelling from a country that does not have a Mozambican embassy or consulate, it is possible to get a 30-day tourist visa on arrival which can then be extended if required when in-country, and the team will assist you with this. Should you require an invitation letter to support your visa application, this can also be provided. Please also be aware that your passport must be valid for a period of at least 6 months from your date of entry.

Fitness & Skills

This project involves open ocean swimming, so you must be fit enough (and a strong enough swimmer) to cope with this! Those that struggle with swimming are not advised to join this project, and we advise that you must be able to swim around 200 metres comfortably in order to join. Additionally, to take part in the activities you must be at least PADI Open Water qualified, therefore, if you are joining without a dive qualification, you will complete this course in your first 4 days. The other important requirement is that you work well within a team and have a significant interest in marine life and the overall conservation efforts!


There are no specific medical requirements or vaccinations needed to join this project. The vaccinations required depend on the individual medical history of each volunteer, and we therefore recommend consulting your doctor/GP regarding your own vaccination needs. We also recommend that you take a look at the Fit for Travel website for more helpful information on how best to prepare for your experience, and also note that Mozambique is a high-risk location for malaria, so preventive medications are highly recommended.


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What's Included

  • Accommodation
  • Three meals per day
  • Airport transfers
  • All project activities and dive equipment
  • Project orientation and support
  • A conservation donation

What's Not Included

  • Flights
  • Visas
  • Travel insurance (which is a requirement and must cover scuba diving)