Mnarani Aquarium Marine Conservancy

About the project

Project Summary

This project was started 1993 by a community based NGO to help to protect the sea turtles that prior this time were hunted by local fishermen and regularly eaten by locals. It seems that some are still eager to hunt and eat turtle meat and eggs thus constant efforts in conservation and awareness are needed. This project is setting an example how conservation can become a livelihood project and help the local community to increase their income.

Project hosts Green turtles (Chelonia mydas) and Hawksbills (Eretmochelys imbricata) in natural sea water pool and tiled swimming pools. Turtles are brought in by local fishermen who have accidentally caught them in their fishing nets. Turtlesin this natural aquarium are one main tourist attraction in the area and many tourists visit the project during the day. Project collects an admission fees that are the main source of finances of the project. Tourists are given a tour of the aquarium and information about sea turtles and conservation efforts.

In the aquarium also few other animals are hosted for educational purposes; land tortoises, monitor lizard and a small crocodiles. It also hosts few abandoned cats and kittens.

The beach in Nungwi used to be a turtle - nesting beach, but tourism development has made the beach so busy, that very rarely turtles are seen to come ashore here anymore. Turtles have moved to nest on more quiet beaches of Tumbatu and Mnemba Islands. During the nesting season, project staff is sometimes called to check the turtle tracks and nests on these beaches.

The main aim of the project is to protect the sea turtles and raise awareness on sea turtle conservation to local people and tourists.

Project has started to collect basic data for research, but it is not primary activity of the project.

Project accepts volunteers year round. Minimum age is 18 years old. Younger volunteers may participate with a parent. Please inform us about any possible health restrictions or dietary requirements in advance.

Typicalday in the project starts 7:30 am with cleaning activities. Team sweeps the aquarium area and cleans turtle pools, tanks and juvenile turtles. After the cleaning activities volunteers can have their breakfast prepared for them.

If the tide is low in the morning and there is need for more food for the turtles, the team will go out and collect seaweed for the turtles.

Duringthe day volunteers and staff are mainly doing tours for the tourists. Time can also be used for studying turtle knowledge and discussing with the team. Lunch is served about 1pm. Later in the afternoon, volunteers will help to feed the juvenile turtles. There may be additional activities depending on the project situation and season.

Team will organize a beach cleaning about once a week and may also visit the nesting beaches of Tumbatu. Evening meal is at 7pm. You are expected to work 5 days a week and you can have 2 days off.

Volunteers can also help to support the community by teaching English at the local kindergarten, organize adult language lessons and themselves learn Swahili or local crafts. Nungwi is known for its well craftedwooden boats, dhows, and we can arrange a course in dhow building for extra cost


Project accommodation is in 1 - 2 people rooms. All rooms have bathroom with cold water showers. Mosquito nets and bed linen are provided. There is electricity available for most of the day, but sometimes there are scheduled power cuts. These can happen also during the evening, so do carry your flashlight with you during the evenings.


This project offers 3 meals a day and due this the project cost is different from our other projects. Please confirm the project fee from our pricelist.

Life in the project

Life here is very relaxed and sometimes even slow paced. Team is happy to chat with you about everything and share their knowledge about local life. They are friendly people who will not necessarily demand you to do your tasks, but you are expected to do your part anyway. It is good to tell the team when you plan to have your days off, if you will not join dinner or if you need to go somewhere during the afternoon.

For safety reasons you should always tell the team where you are going and when to expect you back. During nights it is not safe to walk around by yourself, so do ask someone from the team to accompany you. They are happy to do so.

People in Nungwi as all in Zanzibar are mainly Muslim. Please respect this and wear conservative clothing while in the project and walking through the village. During Ramadan it is fairly quiet everywhere, please respect the locals and don’t eat or drink while walking through the village during day time. Restaurants and bars on the beach will continue serving food and drinks also during the day.