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About Me!

Hi! My name is Claire; I’m 26 years old; come from Australia and have a background in environmental science and zoology. In September 2009, I jumped at the chance to travel to Madagascar to participate on a project with the WWF southwest region marine program. Volunteering has been a big part of my life since my university days, and a 10-day research trip on the Great Barrier Reef, sparked a passion for working in marine environments. Now, accepted into the program, I had been given this incredible opportunity to combine my interests with marine conservation field work at the local level and see first-hand the complexities involved, in one of the most unique places on the planet.....

Toliara Reef system

The Toliara Reef system is the third largest coral reef system in the world and extends over 400 km along the southwest coastline of Madagascar. The reef system is made up of a wide variety of habitats and considered to be an area of high biodiversity (more than 6,000 species recorded so far). This system supports the traditional and artisan fisheries that villages distributed along the coast, depend almost entirely on for food security and as a source of income. Due to the aridity of the climate, low agricultural production and increasing migration to coastal areas, marine resource utilisation is growing placing intensive pressure on the reef ecosystem. Other factors such as sedimentation, warmer sea temperatures, cyclones and coral bleaching events also combine to threaten its health.

The southwest marine program’s objective is to improve the sustainable management of marine resources through local involvement in research and natural resource management, the adoption of locally defined social conventions known as dina; the development of sustainable, alternative livelihood options; and eventually the creation of a network of Marine Protected Areas.
© WWF / Claire Moulin
© WWF / Claire Moulin

A Volunteer's life in Befasy

© WWF / Claire Moulin
Collecting invertebrates at spring low tide (octopus, shells, urchins, sea cucumbers)
© WWF / Claire Moulin
My advice...
Things may not always go according to plan during a placement, that’s just the nature of field work, so embrace the Malagasy concept of ‘’mora mora” and have patience. Accept the change in pace you will experience when you arrive in Madagascar and use this freedom to plan and adapt your work.

Living alongside the Vezo fishermen and their families in Befasy, was an invaluable and rewarding experience. We were able to become immersed in the daily routines of the village and form friendships and working relationships with our WWF counterparts, neighbours, the school and the local community groups. The combination of interesting work in an amazing setting, with people who are so friendly and warm, means that you can’t help but absorb it all!

And now?

Since returning to Australia in late January 2010, I have moved to Karratha in Western Australia, where I'm currently employed as an Environment Officer for the Port of Dampier. I'm enjoying the role, as it's exposing me to a variety of land, heritage, community and marine issues (although I still have ''itchy feet'' and would love to volunteer again!). I attribute getting this job to my involvement with WWF.

Check out our video!

Experiences from Befasy, September-December 2009. Sustainable Management of Marine Resources, Toliara Coral Reef System

My photos of Toliara