The waters of the Indian Ocean on the coast of Mozambique represent the winter breeding ground of a large number of humpback whales. These whales come from the beginning of July to the end of September by the thousands to mate, give birth to their calves and lactate them until they are big enough and strong enough to migrate back to the rich waters of Antarctica where they feed during the summer. Underwater Africa together with the marine biology and conservation organisation Odyssea are running a volunteer program this winter in Tofo, Mozambique. Our packages start at two week’s minimum stay; however, we do recommend a longer stay to ensure the best possible chance of observing these magnificent marine mammals in their natural environment.
Our research program will focus on the biology of humpback whales, looking at all the aspects from behavior, distribution, abundance, acoustics and conservation. This volunteer program is designed around genetics, pollutants and stable isotopes in order to identify whales feeding in different areas of Antarctica within the same breeding ground in Mozambique. Biopsies are an important aspect of whale conservation nowadays more than ever, as it enables us to get information on pollutants, genetics, feeding ecology, and since a few years also on the age of the sampled whale.
This information on age is the most important criteria
against the Japanese so-called “scientific whaling” which states that the only remaining reason to kill whales during the lethal sampling carried out by japan in Antartica and the North Pacific ocean is that you can only determine the age of a whale by killing them. Science has proved this wrong and we are committed to publish as many papers as needed to stop this misbelief.
One of the interesting aspects of this volunteer opportunity is that you will participate first hand to our research efforts, going out at sea to collect data on these incredible whales. You will learn all the research techniques that we use to study these whales, from photo-identification, through acoustic recordings of their beautiful songs, to taking biopsies to study their diet and origin. After every trip at sea collecting data, we will process the information gathered and interpret it together. You will attend talks on the whales’ biology, anatomy, physiology, pathology, acoustics, research and conservation. But you will also be part of an entire group of researchers working with many interesting species such as whale sharks, manta rays, dolphins, turtles and others.
By the end of the two-week volunteer program, you will have gained insight into what it really means to do research with megafauna in the field, and what can be achieved with this research to reach conservation goals. You will have taken part in every aspect of our research and will have gained knowledge about how we transform this scientific data into real conservation efforts. You will be an integral part of our young research team and will witness the amazing reproductive season of these truly unique whales, which carry out the longest yearly migration in the mammalian kingdom. This all takes place in a wonderful setting, the beautiful coast of Mozambique.
Tofo Beach, Mozambique