Volunteer 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
- Requirements: Volunteers are required to be medically & physically fit
- Accommodation: Shared volunteer accommodation
- Length of placement: From 1 week
- Start dates: Flexible
Joining Projects Abroad on the Diving & Marine Conservation Project in Belize is a fantastic opportunity to work toward preserving marine life and learn more about conservation methods. In Belize, we are partnered with an NGO that protects three important marine parks in the Belize Barrier Reef System, located near Placencia. You can get involved as part of a gap year, career break, for university research, or simply as a way to have a meaningful experience during your vacation.
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, and only 10% of all species have been discovered in the Belize Barrier Reef. Not only do these reefs offer important supplies for thousands of people, like building material and food, it is also a source of employment for those in the fishing and tourism industries.
Although various protective methods are in place, the reef has been deeply affected by mass-bleaching incidents. Although the reason may be a combination of human activity and natural disaster, the chances of recovery are slim as the reefs have become extremely vulnerable to disease. Our Diving & Marine Conservation Project recognizes the importance of preserving one of the most valuable ecosystems on earth and the assistance of volunteers is vital to our efforts.
Please note that in order to participate in this project you are required to be medically and physically fit.
Your Role on the Diving & Marine Conservation Project in Belize
As a Conservation volunteer, you will work closely with the NGO to help protect the Belize Barrier Reef. You can expect to get involved in various activities, including:
- Monitoring projects: You will work alongside a local NGO to collect and analyze data to monitor the health status of the reef and seagrass beds, and track the number of commercial species (such as species of fish, lobster, and conch) during and after the fishing season. You will also monitor the location of turtle nests and the number of turtles in the protected areas.
- Bio-monitoring: We are also partnered with a crocodile research NGO to monitor the population of crocodiles in the Placencia Lagoon and to help combat the severe degradation of their natural habitat. Our volunteers assist with catching crocodiles for research purposes and conduct surveys of birds and aquatic life.
- Clean-ups: Volunteers frequently take part in beach and island clean-ups and salvage dives to help control the amount of pollution affecting reefs and surrounding seagrass beds.
- Seaweed planting: Sustainable development is an important focus for the project and our volunteers help local fishermen plant seaweed as an alternative livelihood. This is to help combat overfishing in the area.
- Educational and environmental outreach: You will help with environmental education initiatives by visiting schools and running environmental awareness campaigns in nearby communities.
Dive Courses in Belize with Projects Abroad
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, where you will learn how to breathe, clear your mask, and equalize pressure. You will also become familiar with the buddy system and practice using underwater sign language. Once you 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 authorized specialty course which includes full training in underwater survey and research techniques.
Accommodation at the Conservation Project in Belize
During your time abroad in Placencia, you will live with volunteers in shared Projects Abroad accommodation. In your free time and over weekends, you can explore Belize and socialize with other volunteers. There is plenty to see and do, like taking a trip to a beautiful island, going kayaking or hiking, or visiting a Mayan ruin!
The Diving & Marine Conservation Project in Belize is available for less than a month if you don't have time to join us for a month or more. This project has been selected by our local colleagues as being suitable for shorter durations for both the host community and the volunteer. Although you will gain valuable cultural insight and work intensely within the local community please be aware that you may not be able to make the same impact as someone participating for a longer period.
If you are a high school student and first-time traveler you may want to consider our High School Special programs in Belize.