Our volunteer programmes provide scuba training and practical marine conservation experience in one of the most fascinating countries of the world
Are you wanting to do something meaningful with your gap year or sabbatical? Do you want to pursue a career in marine biology, conservation, or social development? Are you looking for a holiday with a difference? Are you a university student looking to complete a project abroad? Do you want to help us monitor and actively restore degraded reefs? Then our volunteer programmes might be used what you are looking for!
We provide scuba training and practical marine conservation experience in one of the most fascinating countries of the world. You will become a certified PADI scuba diver, learn coral reef identification and surveying skills, take part in a range of marine research and conservation projects, and have the opportunity to assist in our community work. We now also offer a new, non-diving, mangrove volunteer programme at the Reef Doctor Honko site in Ambondrolava!
We work in partnership with the Malagasy government, local communities, and various other stakeholders to protect the marine habitats and resources of the Bay of Ranobe to conserve biodiversity and secure the livelihoods of the impoverished local fishing community. We have been working in this area for over 15 years and have established ourselves as a key conservation body. We have a diverse team of international and national Malagasy experts, but we still need your help. You will be assisting us in our continuous efforts to produce a long-term data set of marine habitat health status. This data is being used to guide the implementation of marine reserves and monitor their effectiveness, inform and advise communities and governmental departments on appropriate marine management, and contribute to global marine science.
Our volunteer placements are different to other gap year programmes; yes, you will be undertaking regular diving, but we aim to involve you in so much more than that. So rather than just offering back to back surveying dives like most other volunteer programmes, we will immerse in other aspects of marine conservation and social development including aquaculture, seagrass and mangrove conservation, fisheries research, community education, turtle conservation, coral gardening, artificial reefs, terrestrial forest conservation, and so much more!
You can spend anywhere between 3 weeks to 3 months with us. Your days will be eventful; the work will be challenging, rewarding, and fun. What’s more, your efforts will be of huge benefit to the continuation of our work and you will gain immense satisfaction knowing that you have assisted us in helping the local communities protect and manage their valuable marine resources for future generations. Our project site is located next to the fishing village of Ifaty so you will have direct daily contact with the local Vezo people, experiencing the culture and customs of these unique communities. Enjoy a life changing experience, make lifelong friends, and return with incredible stories and memories!
We welcome people from all walks of life. You do not need any prior experience or qualifications in this field to volunteer, all we ask is that you are over the age of 18, reasonably fit and healthy, and eager to get involved in our work.
Ultimately, our goal is to involve all volunteers in as much of our research and conservation projects as possible, however the longer you stay with us the more varied experience you will acquire.
Our Volunteer Programmes
The old reef doctor volunteer programmes of EcoDiver, Research Assistant (RA), Mangrove, Aquaculture and RA DiveMaster Internships will not be running between 2022 and 2023. A new volunteer opportunity is launching soon: ‘The Reef Doctor Collaborative Research Initiative’. Details will be on the website by the end of November 2022, with the first expedition ready for a January 2023 start with flexible start dates throughout 2023.
Reef Doctor EcoDiver (3-5 weeks)
Scuba dive training, basic marine species identification courses, and experience marine research and conservation in action
Reef Doctor Research Assistant (6-12 weeks)
Scuba dive training, basic to advanced marine species identification courses, training in marine research methodologies, undertake marine research and surveys, and assist in our other projects
Reef Doctor Mangrove Volunteer (1-3 months)
Mangrove monitoring training, undertake mangrove surveys, and assist in a variety of other activities such as mangrove restoration and community development initiatives