Marine Conservation Academy

TBC 2020

The ocean is in a critical state. More than ever before we need people who are connect passionate and hands on with protecting our oceans and the life that calls it home. That’s where the Marine Conservation Expedition comes in. The aim of this expedition is to:

– connect to the ocean through amazing memorable marine life interactions
– learn the fundamentals of Fish and coral ID, marine biology and marine behaviour
– volunteer with hands-on conservation work that will leave you with the skills and an understanding of surveying and monitoring marine life
– give you a boost of confidence so you believe in the potential you have to do more as a conservationist

Marine life

We will be based on the beautiful and remote Mafia Island, just off the coast of Tanzania. Most days we will be diving in and outside the bay mixing fun dives with surveying and research diving.

Most of Mafia Island is a marine protected area. They boast fantastic biodiversity, colourful coral and some unique mega fauna.

On any dive we might spot guitar sharks, frog fish, nudibranchs, large groupers, rays, eels and octopus. If we are lucky we might also spot a pod of spinner or bottlenose dolphins as we take our traditional dhow boat out to and from the dive sites.

We are on the island on a very special season as it coincides with both the Turtle Hatching season and also the Humpback migration.

As with any wild animals, sightings can’t be guaranteed. However, our schedule will be flexible so if either are spotted we will be heading out to watch the hatchlings make their way to the ocean and to hopefully see humpbacks passing through the waters.



While on this expedition you will be receiving 3 PADI dive specialities: Fish ID, Coral ID and Divers Against Debris. Being able to identify the fish and coral you are diving with really opens up your understanding of the marine environment.

We will be sending some infomration out ahead of time so if you’d like to get a head start on ID and learning you can do this before reaching the island.

Once you have passed these courses we will then be putting our knowledge to practice and using our dives to collect valuable data. We will be doing surveys to help monitor the health of the corals and logging any plastic pollution we find on any of our dives.

We will also learn what a transect survey is and how you can carry out this survey to collect an overview on any given area in the ocean. This is a fun technique to learn together as a team!

If we are lucky to coincide with a turtle hatching, we will be assisting a local charity to collect data once the hatchings are on their way in the ocean.

There will also be organised beach cleans during the expedition.


You will leave the expedition with a good knowledge on marine life and conservation strategies. There will be lectures covering: Turtles, Coral reefs, Ocean threats and Humpback Whales.

On some evenings there will be an optional screening conservation film screening.

We will be working closely with some of the leading conservationists and Marine Biologists on the Island of Mafia. These are individuals who are driving real change and have been working in the field for many years. There is a huge amount of knowledge and inspiration to be taken from their learnings.

Having a passion but not having the confidence to take it somewhere is a huge barrier for many. That’s why there will be a dedicated session delivered by expedition leader, Bex Band, on what steps you can take to make your dream a reality.

Where will we be staying

Mafia Island really is a slice of paradise. We will be staying in comfortable rooms that sit right on a beautiful stretch of beach. This is a relaxing setting perfect for taking evening sunset strolls or early morning swims.

Rooms are on a twin shared basis (single supplement may be possible at an additional cost on request) and are all en-suite.

All meals will be prepared for us so you can relax and focus on learning and having a great time in the water. All meals will be vegetarian as this is one of the easiest ways we can reduce our impact on the planet and overfishing in the area.

Although we have a busy schedule there will also be plenty of time to relax. Enjoy a drink in the evening with new friends or take a boat to nearby Chole Island for a lazy morning exploring this island stuck in time…..there are no cars on Chole and last year just 220 people stepped foot on the island. It’s quite a special place!

What is and isn’t included

Included in the price is…

  • 10 nights accommodation in Big Blu on a twin shared basis
  • All meals from dinner on the day of your arrival to breakfast on the departure day (meals will be vegetarian so we aren’t contributing to animal mistreatment or overfishing)
  • Transfers to and from the airport
  • An experienced expedition leader (Bex Band)
  • Qualified Dive Instructors
  • Diving and all dive equipment
  • All conservation activities (activities are flexible as we will be responding to the wildlife that is present at the time. As a rough idea you can expect somewhere between 12-16 dives, 2 beach cleans, 2 turtle hatching data collections and a humpback whale tour)
  • 3 PADI Specialities (including learning, dives and certification)
    Project AWARE Fish Identification Speciality
    Project AWARE Speciality Divers Against Debris
    Project AWARE Coral Reef Conservation Speciality
  • Evening presentations and film screenings
  • All Marine Park fees
  • Beach cleans
  • Expedition T-shirt

What is and isn’t included

  • International flights (you will need to fly into Dar es Salaam)
  • Internal flight to Mafia Island (estimate $240 return)
  • Drinks
  • Insurance (compulsory and must include comprehensive diving insurance)
  • Additional activities not included in the itinerary
  • Tips for the local staff

Cost: £1560 (private room) or £1400 (twin room)

Dates: 11th – 20th January

Where: Mafia Island, Tanzania


For enquiries, please email Bex on


This expedition is being led by experienced Expedition Leader and marine conservationist, Catherine Edsell.

We have partnered with Inspired Ventures who specialise in adventure travel to support social and environmental projects around the world. Inspired Ventures is a UK travel company that ensures our trip has all the necessary insurance and complies with the necessary standards and laws in the UK.

Please do not book your flights to Mafia Island until you have received confirmation that we have received minimum numbers for this expedition to go ahead.

To book your place on the trip please use the form below to pay the £350 non-refundable deposit: