When I first stepped onto the plane to go to Mozambique I had no idea what to expect, and quite frankly, was a little scared. What I found however, that the decision to volunteer for Underwater Africa volunteering. (UA) would be the best decision I’ve ever made.
The second I was introduced to the Marine Megafauna Foundation staff I felt completely at home, and was even lucky enough to be invited to their weekend away on a nearby island, Linga Linga. During that time I found that the stereotype that scientists are boring and antisocial was totally false … they’re just like regular people! Relationships started forming quickly, not just with MMF staff, but also with each of my fellow volunteers, and I can say with confidence that I will never forget the people I’ve met here, and will miss them so much it already hurts. Not only are they some of the most fun and entertaining people I know, they are also extremely patient, and love to tell you about the projects they are working on and what you can do to help. Through their teachings I have decided that marine biology and conservation are fields that I really do want to go into, a question that I came here specifically to answer. Not to mention getting to have multiple conversations with Andrea Marshall and Simon Pierce about their work, future goals, and share really bad jokes. After three months of doing research dives, data entry, and many other activities I have a proper understanding of what I’m going to be getting myself into.
As for things to do and see in Tofo, the options are endless. Some of the opportunities that come with volunteering for UA included bird watching at a local lake, whale watching at Tofinho, taking a day off at Praia da Rocha, snorkeling in the estuary, and spending evenings watching the sunset on the beach. However, you have plenty of free reign to explore if you want. There’s ample restaurants in the market, a lighthouse, and loads of little vendors to visit all within walking distance if you don’t want to take a chappa into the city. The locals greet you everyday like you’re an old family friend, and are always happy to stop and have a chat. And of course, who could forget the scuba diving!
In my time here I’ve seen three leatherback turtles, at least nineteen giant manta rays, two bowmouth guitar fish, seven leopard sharks, eight smalleye stingrays, two humpback whales on scuba, dragon moray eels, seahorses in the estuary, eight whale sharks, 9 reef manta rays, loads of bottlenose and humpback dolphins, and countless other rare and uncommon sea creatures. I don’t think there will ever be a time where I won’t have to sit down and ask ‘did that really happen?’ when I think about the encounters. Nor will I be able to get over the diversity of life in the waters.
Looking back to the beginning, I don’t know what I was ever nervous about. I was well taken care of, and am happier than I’ve been in years. Even though the thought of leaving brings me to the verge of tears, I know that all the work I did to get to Tofo was worth it ten-fold, and will definitely be keeping up with my new friends. And! Lucky for me, I have one more month to work with Peri-Peri divers Tofo Mozambique. to finish my dive master course, and will be able to help the new volunteers with their first few research dives. I would recommend making the decision to join the Underwater Africa family to anyone and everyone.
May the adventure never end.