Diving & Marine Conservation in Belize
- Placement location: Marine parks near Placencia
- Role: To help conserve the marine environment and conduct vital research
- Main Research Focus: Protection of coral reef
- Local Environment: Marine
- Accommodation: Shared volunteer apartments
- Price: From
- What's included? Food, accommodation, transfers to and from our specified airport, transport to and from work where required, insurance, personal webpage, induction and orientation, 24/7 support
- What's not included? Flights, visa costs, spending money
- Length of placement: From 1 week
- Start dates: Flexible
In Belize, Projects Abroad holds a research permit from the government Fisheries Department. This permit allows us to work in three important marine parks in the Belize Barrier Reef Systems, located near Placencia.
The Belize Barrier Reef is a UNESCO World Heritage site and was described by Charles Darwin as ‘the most remarkable reef in the West Indies’. The reef is home to a large variety of plants and animals including coral species, fish, hundreds of invertebrate species and only 10% of all species have been discovered in the Belize Barrier Reef. Not only do reefs offer important supplies for thousands of people, like building material and food, it is also a source of employment through fisheries and tourism.
Although there are various protective methods in place, the reef has been affected by mass-bleaching incidents. Although the reason may be a combination of human activity and natural disaster, the chances of recovery are slim due to vulnerability to disease.
Your Role as a Conservation Volunteer in Belize
As a Conservation volunteer you will help gather necessary data of the Belize Barrier Reef through regular assessment. Data collection entry and analysis will focus on:
- The health status of the reef and seagrass beds
- The amount of commercial species, such as species of fish, lobster and conch, during and after the fishing season
- The location of turtles’ nests and the number of turtles that are frequently spotted within the protected areas
Besides the above surveys, you will participate in beach clean-ups and salvage dives to help control the amount of ocean pollution affecting the reefs and surrounding seagrass beds. You will also have the chance to work alongside a crocodile research NGO to monitor the population of crocodiles in the Placencia Lagoon, and help to combat the severe degradation of their natural habitat. This may include helping to catch crocodiles for research purposes, and conducting surveys of birds and aquatic life.
Volunteers will participate in environmental education initiatives by visiting schools and running environmental awareness campaigns in nearby communities. Other activities include helping local fisherman plant seaweed as an alternative livelihood, as a means of combating overfishing in the area.
If you cannot scuba dive or do not have any certification to dive, you will have the opportunity to participate in a PADI Open Water course in shallow waters. You will learn how to breathe, clear your mask and equalise pressure. You will also become familiar with the buddy system and practise using underwater sign language. Once you’ve have your PADI certified diving certification, you will start participating in conservation activities with our local staff and project partner.
If you have an existing dive certification equivalent to the PADI Open Water qualification you will have the chance to participate in the PADI Advanced course. Volunteers will also receive the Projects Abroad Survey Diver certification card. This is a PADI authorised specialty course which includes full training in underwater survey and research techniques.
Volunteers are required to be medically and physically fit to participate in this project.