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, 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 and hundreds of invertebrate species, with the vast majority of the reef still yet to be researched. The reef offers important supplies for thousands of people, such as building material and food, and is also a source of employment through fisheries and tourism.
Although protective methods are in place, the reef has been affected by mass-bleaching incidents and the chances of recovery are slim due to vulnerability to disease.
Projects Abroad Belize recognises the importance of protecting one of the most valuable ecosystems on earth. Conservation volunteers will help gather necessary data from the Belize Barrier Reef through regular assessment. Data collection 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
Conservation volunteers will also participate in beach clean-ups and salvage dives to help control the amount of oceanic 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.
Volunteers who cannot scuba dive or do not have any certification to dive, will have the opportunity to participate in a PADI Open Water course in shallow waters. Volunteers will learn how to breathe, clear their mask and equalise pressure; they will also become familiar with the buddy system and practise using underwater sign language. Once volunteers have their PADI certified diving certification, they will start participating in conservation activities with our local staff and project partner.
Volunteers with an existing dive certification equivalent to the PADI Open Water qualification will take part 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.