Train to become an essential member of our marine research team and get involved a range of other conservation and social developments projects
Become a Reef Doctor Research Assistant to help us with our conservation and social development work! We train volunteers to become integral members of our marine surveying team. Your days will be eventful and the work will be challenging, rewarding, and fun. While you can expect to undertake regular science diving, this is only one aspect of the programme. We pride ourselves on offering a unique volunteer experience that gets you involved in several different aspects of our work. 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 conserving threatened ecosystems and helping the local communities secure valuable marine resources for future generations.
The programme is open to anyone aged 18 and over, from gap-year, graduate/post-graduate students, to generally enthusiastic people looking to undertake hands-on marine conservation and management. You do not need any prior experience or qualifications in this field to volunteer, all we ask is that you are reasonably fit and healthy, and are eager to get involved in our work. Ultimately, our goal is to involve 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. Enjoy a life changing experience, make lifelong friends, and return with incredible stories and memories from this unique island!
To undertake our marine research surveys all research assistants must be certified to PADI Advanced open water (or equivalent). If you have never dived before we will train you from scratch and certify you to PADI Advanced Open Water.
This programme is also a great way for graduates and undergraduates to gain the essential field based work experiences needed to help further a career in conservation and marine sciences. We can also provide the opportunity for BSc and MSc students in the field of biology, ecology, zoology, environmental & social sciences, conservation etc., to undertake their own research projects for their thesis (please ask for further details).
Expeditions of 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, and 12 weeks are available.
Expeditions start every 6 weeks from January to December with spaces available for 4–6 people per expedition month.
What you can expect from the Reef Doctor Research Assistant Programme:
Dive training to PADI Advanced level.
For 8 week + expeditions, volunteers may also undertake the PADI Rescue Diver certification (includes the PADI EFR 1st aid course) for an additional fee.
For 12 week expeditions, volunteers who are looking to gain more diving certifications and experience who join us already PADI Advanced open water certified could undertake the PADI Divemaster certification on a tailored program. Please see programme guide or ask us for details.
Lectures in coral reef biology and ecology, marine management and conservation principles.
Training in underwater marine species identification (fish, invertebrates, benthic, coral).
Training in underwater surveying techniques.
Participate in Reef Doctor’s long term coral reef monitoring programme: you will become a vital member of our surveying team.
Gain experience in data recording and data input protocols.
Undertake fisheries catch assessments with the local fisheries team.
Experience life living alongside a traditional Malagasy fishing community and gain insight into the unique Vezo culture.
Assist our science team in their other core projects such as coral gardening, seagrass surveys, turtle tagging/release, artificial reefs, and reforestation.
Theoretical and practical seagrass and mangrove research and conservation.
Help our 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.
Make a lasting connection and impact with local children by participating in our local environmental education initiatives Kids Club and Junior Reef Doctors.
Enjoy exploring the local area; the popular beach resorts, the Spiny Forest, or visit one of the local National Parks (in your free time, at your own expense).
Ultimately, the more you put in the more you get out, so we want you to use your enthusiasm, experiences, and skills to become involved in a wide range of projects. In this way, we can make sure that whilst you’re here your contribution will have the biggest impact possible! The longer you stay for the more you can achieve!
Expedition prices range between £1700–£2800. Full price list and further information can be found by downloading our Research Assistant Programme Guide below.