[MARMAM] Volunteer opportunity in Mauritius

Imogen Webster jipperim at yahoo.com
Mon Sep 7 22:34:04 PDT 2009


Dear Marmammers,                                              

In 2008 The Mauritian Marine Conservation Society embarked on a scientific study of the dolphin watching industry in Mauritius and the dolphins exploited in this industry. To give a little background:

The dolphin watching industry has grown unregulated and uncontrolled over the last 5 or 6 years. (A whale watching industry is nascent and may take off at any moment). On a typical day, groups of spinner dolphins, sometimes up to 100 animals, but typically 50 dolphins, will be visited by an average of 40 boats over a 4 hour period, early to mid- morning. With a non-ending stream of snorkellers jumping in the water to be near them. 

On occasion, perhaps 20% of the time, small groups (2 to 5) of bottlenose dolphins are subjected to the same fate. 

At the moment the population of bottlenose is the major conservation issue. We expect to find, based purely on intuition and not science, a very small population of Tursiops, probably around 100 to 150 animals. In contrast, the spinners that visit the coast daily are probably part of a larger population, probably around 3000 to 5000 strong - perhaps 1 or 2 thousand less. 

But, that is all conjecture, we need to establish the sustainability of the industry and the conservation status of the dolphins scientifically. 
We have two students working on this:
1. Behavioural  aspects, what the dolphins are doing in the area, what they do before the boats arrive, during and after.
2. Determining numbers and ecological aspects of both species.
In addition the examination of the socio-economic aspects, what the industry is worth, how many people, from where etc etc will be continued through tourist and operator surveys. 
The trouble is we have a limited budget and we, like most science, need to augment this in some way. Hence, we are looking for paying volunteers to come to Mauritius and help us with this work. Other than the research (undertaken by two PhD students) outlined above, the programme also encompasses: Working with schools to promote environmental awareness.
Lobbying Government, the dolphin watching industry and private business in an effort to gain support for sustainable marine eco-tourism.

So, not only is there opportunity to help the PhD students with their research, but there will be ample opportunity to work with the MMCS in their educational and awareness campaign and get involved with many aspects of workings of a Non Governmental Organization.

We would like to host a maximum of four volunteers at any one time to help. Help would mostly be collecting data at sea, on our boat (2 or 3 times a week), or somehow helping the collection of other research data such as surveys, data entry.  
Volunteers will be accommodated in a small furnished house in Black River (GPS 20o 21.77'S, 57o 21.48'E) with one of the students.  Volunteers will have their own room and be given a weekly food allowance. Anything outside of this (alcohol, personal snacks etc) will be for the volunteer's own account. Volunteers will be expected to do their own cooking, cleaning etc.

The house is well appointed, two toilets, one bathroom with shower. It is about 750 m from a shopping centre that has a well stocked supermarket. The beach is about 100 m away.  

Openings for volunteers are available from October (closed over Christmas and new year).

Charges will be AUS$405/GBP£200 per week, additional to organize airport transfers, with a minimum of 4 weeks (and a maximum of 8 weeks, because of Government stipulation).

For more info on volunteering, contact:
Imogen Webster Principle Research Officer (PhD candidate) 
iwebster at mmcs-ngo.org or Skype imogen.webster




      
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