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Blue Ventures’ New Marine Expedition

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    Blue Ventures is now recruiting for an exciting new volunteer expedition in Madagascar. In the summer of 2007 we’re launching two rapid reef exploration and assessment expeditions around the remote islands off Manahy, approximately 75km south of Morondava.

    The islands and surrounding lagoonal waters are part of a newly proposed marine protected area, a coastal extension of the spectacular Kirindy-Mitea national park. Blue Ventures is working with the national parks service ANGAP to bring the research methodologies piloted in Andavadoaka to study the region’s spectacular reefs for the first time.

    Each expedition will comprise two phases moving between coastal and island research centres. The coastal phase will be based in a purpose-built tented field research station close to the remote village of Manahy (population 25!) adjacent to pristine mangrove forests. The offshore phase will be based on the island Nosy Andriamitoraka, 15 kilometres from the mainland. Expedition support, meals, and all the usual comforts found in Andavadoaka will be provided by the national parks service, as well as by a support team brought up from Andavadoaka.

    The two 4-week expeditions will run 30th June to 27th July and 3rd to 30th August. They’ll be led by Madagascar’s newest Divemaster, Bic Manahira and BV research coordinator Al Harris.

    Owing to the region’s extreme remoteness and isolation, the Manahy reefs have experienced lower levels of human-induced stress than most other marine environments in the region over recent years. As such, the islands’ extensive reef systems are widely recognised to offer some of the best diving in the Western Indian Ocean. No marine ecological or fisheries research has been carried out in the region so far, and this project represents a superb opportunity to participate in a pioneering reconnaissance expedition, discovering and exploring new dive sites, mapping reefs, and establishing baseline data and an inventory of species to pave the way for Madagascar’s newest marine park.

    As the expeditions are only 4-week duration we require all applicants to have dived within the last 6 months or undertaken a scuba review prior to joining the expedition. Ex-volunteers who have worked with Blue Ventures in Andavadoaka have many of the dive and research skills that we’re looking for, therefore past volunteers are being offered the opportunity to apply for the expedition before any other promotion or marketing of the trip begins.

    To help participants get up to speed, science training materials will be sent to all volunteers and a project training day will be held at BV London offices a month prior to the first expedition.

    Cost:

    The cost of the expeditions is £1,565 per person. The price includes: carbon offset fees for your international flights, return transfers from Antananarivo to Morondava by road, return transfers from Morondava to the research site by sea, all food and accommodation for the 4 weeks (3 meals per day), marine science training and all diving.

    A guide to expedition life:
    • 1 week of training and familiarisation with the species to be studied. In this expedition the focus will be upon coral reef fish and benthic data collection.
    • Daily exploratory dives, reef mapping and reef monitoring surveys.
    • Baseline fisheries survey of local island and coastal communities.
    • Weather monitoring.
    • Shark and turtle catch monitoring. This aspect of the research will involve working with fishers to set up the monitoring programme, expanding a new research initiative recently developed in Andavadoaka with support from the National Geographic Society.

    In the first instance, if you would like to apply or are interested in finding out more about this expedition please contact Richard Nimmo by email at richard@blueventures.org or by phone on 0208 341 9819.

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