Blue Lagoon & Coral Reef Monitoring

Volunteer training and activities:

The main area of study will take place within both the Blue Bay Marine Park and the Pointe d’Esny Lagoon. With the data gathered by volunteers, the database of Lagon Bleu will be expanded and the evaluation of the threats and causes will facilitate an appropriate strategy of protection and surveillance. The range of projects within the volunteer programme include ‘Lagoon Monitoring’, ‘Community-based Projects’ and ‘Beach and Mangrove Cleaning and Monitoring’.

Lagoon Monitoring
Volunteers will primarily be involved in collecting data for our Lagoon Monitoring project. The project aims to monitor the state of the Blue Bay Lagoon and Marine Park, through assessments of the health and diversity of the different coral species, the diversity and abundance of a wide range of fish species as well as recording the levels of the various human activities that take place throughout the lagoon and Marine Park.

The vast majority of monitoring will involve volunteers travelling by boat through the lagoon and conducting surveys at the various sites that we are monitoring. Volunteers will be trained to carry out the various survey methods used to collect our data in a strictly scientific manner. Volunteers will also be trained to identify different fish species and corals through a series of workshops, which will allow volunteers to differentiate between species, based on their anatomy, behaviour and ecology.

By the end of the program, volunteers will be able to identify all of the coral and fish species found throughout the lagoon, as well as gaining an understanding of the various biological and behavioural interactions that occur within a coastal coral reef environment. Volunteers will also learn about the range of ways in which humans are impacting coral reefs in Mauritius and the rest of the world, and the potential consequences of these actions.

Sea Turtle Protection Project
An exciting new project to determine whether the endangered Green Turtle and the critically endangered Hawksbill Turtles are nesting on Mauritius is now available for volunteers in Mauritius. During the nesting season, you will have the opportunity to be involved in essential beach patrols to search for any evidence of nesting, or even be lucky enough to catch a female on the beach ! Sea Turtles are regularly seen along the coastline but have very rarely been observed nesting on the mainland beaches in the past 50 years, although local reports have indicated they may be starting to make a comeback.

Working alongside the local community, and accompanied by a local guide, you will provide vital reports to the project and have the very real possibility of being able to confirm that a local breeding population still exists around mainland Mauritius. In doing so, you will be directly involved in the conservation of this endangered population, and genuinely contribute towards their long-term protection.

Lagoon Monitoring Requirements:
We want to create an experience tailored to the wants and needs of all of our volunteers, providing you with practical marine survey skills, while most importantly, ensuring that your enjoy your time with our team. However, we also need to ensure that the data collected by the volunteers meets the rigorous standards required for use in official reports and publications. As a result, we have created a number of volunteer stages, each of which offers various tasks of increasing difficulty.

Volunteer stages are as follows:

Stage 1: Introduction
Volunteers primary task will be to lay the transects for the fish and coral surveys and to record the visibility and temperature at each site. Volunteers will begin to learn the various species of coral present in the lagoon and how to identify them. Volunteers will begin to learn the most common fish species (approximately 25 different species) found in the lagoon and how to identify them. Once you are able to demonstrate this knowledge to a member of the team you can advance to stage 2.

Stage 2: Coral Cover Monitoring
Volunteers will use the skills gained in Stage 1 to conduct coral cover surveys within the lagoon. Volunteers will continue to build upon their knowledge of fish species occuring in the lagoon. Once able to demonstrate their ability in identifying all fish species, they may then advance to the third and final stage.

Stage 3: Fish Monitoring
Volunteers will continue to conduct the coral cover surveys introduced in Stage 2. Volunteers will now use their knowledge of the fish species found throughout the lagoon to begin conducting fish monitoring surveys.

As well as learning in the field, volunteers will learn everything they need to know through a series of workshops, lectures and one to one sessions. We are very flexible with our teaching and are more than happy to assist with any queries or questions that you may have whenever we have free time.

Community-based projects
Increasing local communities’ awareness and knowledge regarding coastal and marine biodiversity, resources use prohibitions, conservations works, the benefits gained from the PAs along with improving relationships between the local community and Lagon Bleu staff are critical determinants fostering positive perceptions and attitudes towards our organization as well as biodiversity conservation. These mechanisms must be addressed in an integrated manner in order to build local community participation and support toward our projects.

Lagon Bleu is currently conducting questionnaire surveys to residents in order to investigate broad local community perceptions and attitudes towards our organization and the management of Mauritius’ natural and cultural resources. The interview surveys are conducted generally once a week between 9am and 12pm. The questionnaire survey data is subsequently gathered into Excel software in the afternoon by the volunteers. Finally, volunteers can participate to the design and implementation of informative events for local communities and others stakeholders.

Lagon Bleu also provides environment-based in schools lessons around Blue Bay. Others activities with local children includes mangrove planting and glass bottom boat excursions where volunteers are welcome to participate and help. It also conducts

By the end of this programme, volunteers will be able to understand and be aware of the necessity of getting local support to ensure sustainable and effective management of Mauritius’ natural and cultural resources. They will have the satisfaction of having contributed to raising education and awareness on conservation through better information and communication actions at the community level.

Mangroves and beach monitoring
Lagon Bleu is committed to restoration activities that mitigate damage already done, such as waste dumping in ecologically important areas. An accumulation of solid waste has been observed in various beach and mangrove areas surrounding the Lagoon including the Pointe d’Esny Ramsar Wetland. This variety of waste materials are breaking down into particles small enough to be ingested by animals and marine life, thus entering the habitat’s food chain and causing damage to the ecosystem. Given the biological value of these sites, it is our belief that such damage may have ramifications on the health of the lagoon.

The activities consist of collecting data on waste quantity by type and by size, and follow-up monitoring will be conducted to observe the effects of the cleanups on the ecosystem. Beyond the direct benefit to the Lagoon, Lagon Bleu will disseminate information before and after clean-up event to sensitize the community and wider public to the value of mangrove and beach areas and the key role it plays in the coral reef ecosystem. While the importance of mangroves cleaning may sound “new” to the public, we expect that people will “connect the dots” and build a more integrated understanding of the mangrove / reef / lagoon ecosystem and therefore be better equipped to help preserve and restore it.

By the end of this programme, volunteers will have contributed to the preservation and beautification of the Mauritian environment by: 1. removing and sorting waste from mangrove areas, 2. recording waste mass by type and by size, 3. inviting public participation and engage individuals on the importance of mangroves and 4. sensitizing the public on the combined effects of climate change and direct human pressure on coastal and marine ecosystems.

Finally, this experience will be completed with PowerPoint presentations provided by Lagon Bleu Team to Volunteers to increase their awareness and knowledge regarding the marine environment and the importance of biodiversity conservation. New projects may also be set up during volunteer stay providing a wider range of activities.

Dates and working hours

Volunteers can come throughout the year for a minimum of 2 weeks. Volunteers work from Monday till Friday. The workday generally starts at 9 AM and ends at 1 PM. However, due to surveys and monitoring (think about evening and early morning boat patrols) your work schedule might change during the week, depending on your shift. You are free during the weekends. Duties outside of these hours include weekend events with local communities and others stakeholders.

For more information (including costs), contact us via the following contact details:

Villa Badamiers, Route Royal, Blue Bay, Mauritius
Telephone/Fax: +230 631 1994
Portable: +230 250 2729
Email: lagonbleu@ecosud.mu

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