Neil Madigan - Madagascar 2004
Neil Madigan, 24, from the UK, was on the December 2004 expedition in Madagascar.
Having volunteered with Blue Ventures at their site in Andavadoaka, Madagascar I can only encourage anyone with an interest in Marine Conservation or eco tourism to get involved with this project. The range of activities and quality of the on-site science training, coupled with the beauty of the stretch of coast and friendliness of the villagers made this an experience I will treasure for the rest of my life. The project aims not only to conserve the fragile marine environment, but to encourage a sustainable long term plan for the impoverished people of the region.
You will be privileged to enjoy some unforgettable diving on spectacular, healthy, vibrant reefs which are largely unexplored and as beautiful and full of life as you could wish for. You will also see the degradation of reefs that only a decade ago were thriving. The effects of coral bleaching are evident, as is the effect the bleaching has on the diversity of marine species. This is a critical time, globally, for marine research and projects like Blue Ventures are a necessity, something you can be proud to be a part of.
The entire duration of my time in Madagascar was a fantastic mix of adventure, culture, relaxation and learning. There is something about this island that is magical; it encapsulates so many environments, so much unique beauty that exists nowhere else in the world. It is arguably the most important conservation site in the world today and although from north to south there is work to be done to slow the rate of deforestation, declining species levels, poverty and numerous other problems, I felt a feeling of optimism amongst the Malagasy people that was infectious and remains within me to this day.
In short, this is an experience that enriched my life in so many ways and gave me an understanding of how effective and necessary the work of charities like this really is. Whether you're new to marine conservation or looking to further your existing knowledge and experience I have no hesitation in recommending Blue Ventures.