On this expedition, you will spend two weeks on the island of Nosy Be. If you are not already dive trained then your first week on site will involve completing a PADI Open Water dive training course. During the second week you will complete a lecture series on Indian Ocean reef ecology and two dive based practicals will be undertaken each day, or there is the option of obtaining your PADI Advanced Open Water qualification. If you are already dive trained, or only wish to snorkel, you will start your first week with the Indian Ocean reef ecology course and in your second week will have the opportunity to assist our researchers with the 3D modelling of the reefs, quantification of the fish communities from stereo-video surveys and turtle ID workshops. Additionally, if you come to site with your PADI Open Water qualification, you will also have the option of completing your Advanced Open Water qualification.
Despite plans by the Madagascan government to expand its network of marine protected areas (MPAs), the country’s coral reefs remain under threat from local pressures such as overfishing, and global threats such as climate change. However, surveys by the World Conservation Society found the reefs around islands near Nosy Be, off Madagascar’s northwest coast, to be amongst the healthiest anywhere in the Western Indian Ocean. They found live coral cover to have increased in recent years, and fish biomass to be at carrying capacity.
The larger island of Nosy Be is home to a sizeable human population and a bustling tourism industry, likely placing the surrounding coral reefs under increased pressure. Opwall will be working along a gradient of reef protection, from the strictly protected MPA at Nosy Tanihely to unmanaged reefs further along the coast. Our aims are to establish a technology-driven standardised reef monitoring program which can be combined with data sets from other key bioregions to explore patterns in coral reef functioning from present to future. Via this programme we will then collect long term reef health data across this human use gradient to compare the performance of reefs around Nosy Be to those of more remote locations nearby.
In Madagascar it is the dry season so it is hot during the day (temperatures between 25 and 30degrees Celsius) with extremely little chance of rain in the forest and very occasional rain at the marine site. During the evenings the temperature does drop to around 18 degrees Celsius with occasional cold spells getting as low as 14 degrees Celsius.
Fitness level required
Moderate. In the forest most surveys require walking long distances, and although the terrain is relatively flat you will be walking mostly on sand. Fitness requirements for the marine site is low.
Facilities at the forest camps are basic (tents, bucket showers, long drop toilets). The site has no phone signal or wifi. Facilities at the marine site are a little less rustic with dorm style accommodation and running water for showers and flushing toilets. The marine site does get some phone signal and limited wifi.