Belize Dive and Marine Conservation

From £899, 7 days, Belize Trip code: BEMC

  • Adventure 5 out of 5
  • Relaxation 3 out of 5
  • Culture 3 out of 5
Belize Dive and Marine ConservationBelize Dive and Marine ConservationBelize Dive and Marine Conservation

Trip Highlights

  • Dive in one of the best dive spots in the world
  • The second biggest reef system behind the Great Barrier reef
  • Learn to dive whilst taking part in a fantastic conservation programme

Trip Summary

See full itinerary

Belize is home to some of the most beautiful and unspoilt marine life in the world, yet this beauty and tranquillity is under threat. As a volunteer on this fascinating programme, you’ll have the opportunity to play your part in vital research survey dives in the waters off the stunning Belizean coastline! If you haven’t dived before, don’t worry as we’ll include a PADI Open Water Dive Course* for you to help you make the most of your time in Belize!

 

There are many areas of study for the team and volunteers in Belize, some of which include a Lionfish research project, Lobster surveys, Conch surveys, Reef checks, Coral watch and a Whale Shark research project. All of these studies and surveys are collecting extremely valuable information, which is helping to protect the delicate marine life in the area and secure a brighter future for the ecosystems.

 

It’s not all work though, as well as participating in fascinating research dives you’ll also have the opportunity to enjoy some fantastic fun dives! You’ll also have free time at weekends on the mainland, which you can use to explore some of the other areas of Belize, discover historic Mayan ruins, explore the jungle or visit some of the neighbouring Caye’s for a bit of relaxation. Our friendly local team will be able to make some great suggestions for your free time!

 

*The PADI Open Water course itself is included in the programme, however you are required to bring along your own manuals for the course. You will also be required to pay an administration fee upon completion of the Open Water Course.
 


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What will I be doing?

  • What will I be doing? (1 - 8 weeks)

  • The research study areas (1 - 8 weeks)

  • Leg 3 – How will I be involved? (1 - 8 weeks)

  • What should I expect? (1 - 8 weeks)

  • There’s more to explore…. (1 - 8 weeks)

What will I be doing?: 1 - 8 weeks

Next Leg

Destination info

Lots of people are yet to discover Belize, it’s a hidden gem in the heart of Central America. Nestled just south of Mexico and next to Guatemala on the Caribbean Sea, Belize is only a short flight from the United States.

 

The Belizean people are very friendly and polite. Travellers feel welcomed and comfortable and lots of locals, especially in Punta Gorda where our Diving and Marine Conservation programme is based, love to talk to tourists and hear all about other countries and cultures!

 

The Belize barrier reef, a UNESCO world heritage site, is the second largest in the world and boasts an incredible spectacle of marine life. 

  • Location: Sapodilla Cayes Marine Reserve

This is the perfect programme for those looking for the ultimate diving escape, combined with the opportunity to be involved in vital marine conservation work on the Belizean coastline.

 

For those who are complete novices to diving, a PADI Open Water diving course will be included* for you at the beginning of your stay in Belize, giving you a fantastic new skill to take away with you! If you are already a qualified diver you’ll be able to get stuck in, straight away, to the fascinating research survey dives which form the basis for this unique programme! Each survey topic is different but they all have the same aim and purpose, to preserve the wonderful marine life of Belize that lives off its beautiful shores and more specifically help the Government of Belize to enforce the preservation area of Sapodilla Cayes Marine Park (SCMR) where the project work is primarily focused and located.

 

*The PADI Open Water course itself is included in the programme, however you are required to bring along your own manuals for the course. You will also be required to pay an administration fee upon completion of the Open Water Course.  

The research study areas: 1 - 8 weeks

Next Leg

Destination info

Lots of people are yet to discover Belize, it’s a hidden gem in the heart of Central America. Nestled just south of Mexico and next to Guatemala on the Caribbean Sea, Belize is only a short flight from the United States.

 

The Belizean people are very friendly and polite. Travellers feel welcomed and comfortable and lots of locals, especially in Punta Gorda where our Diving and Marine Conservation programme is based, love to talk to tourists and hear all about other countries and cultures!

 

The Belize barrier reef, a UNESCO world heritage site, is the second largest in the world and boasts an incredible spectacle of marine life. 

  • Location: Sapodilla Cayes Marine Reserve

As part of your time in Belize you will be helping out with vital marine conservation work.

 

The programme is focused on 6 primary research study areas which will be central to your time spent in Belize.

 

Lionfish Project – Lionfish are indigenous to the Red Sea and Indo Pacific oceans, not the Atlantic Caribbean belt yet this is exactly where they are now being found. In their natural habitats Lionfish feed on a variety of species which doesn’t cause a threat to the environment and their natural predators are present which help to keep numbers under control. However in the Atlantic Caribbean belt, this balance does not exist and as such Lionfish numbers are spiralling out of control, posing a major threat to the species that are key to the local environment such as parrotfish, juvenile groupers and crustaceans. Should Lionfish numbers in Belizean waters continue to grow at the current rate, it could spell disaster for fish and lobster stocks in the area.

 

Whale Shark Project – As with many species of Shark, the Whale Shark is encountering a steep decline in population and may soon even be facing complete extinction, if steps are not taken now to protect this incredible creature. Due to their gentle nature Whale Sharks are an easy target for fisheries hunting them for meat and fins, which are highly sort after in the international shark fin trade. The Whale Shark Project works in partnership with Project AWARE which is working to build a global database to help record migration patterns for the species and in turn help with efforts to protect them. The team also submit all data on whale shark sightings to the Gulf and Caribbean Sharks and Rays Programme.

 

Caribbean Spiny Lobster – Lobster is a species of high commercial value throughout the Caribbean and beyond, as a result they are a victim of over fishing with population numbers on a rapid decline over recent years. In an effort to try and replenish stocks and boost population numbers, many Caribbean countries now impose open and closed lobster fishing seasons; the closed season normally falls when females release their eggs into the water column. In Belize the closed season is in force from February to June, during this time lobster is banned from restaurant menus and fishing. Together with the Belize Depart of Fisheries, the project is monitoring lobster population numbers, concentrating on migratory paths to the continental shelf where females release their eggs.

 

Conch – Conch is another species which is falling victim to over-fishing in Belizean waters because of its high commercial value. There is a large amount of debate surrounding the areas in which Conch breeds and whether shallow or deep waters are most common. Due to an increase in fishing levels in Belizean waters, there are theories suggesting that both are true, as Conch are forced into the safety of deeper waters to breed.

To be able to monitor the migration patterns and help protect the species, each conch is fitted with plastic cable ties each with an individual number that relates to that specific Conch. Once they have been labelled, each subsequent observation of Conch is recorded to indicate migration patterns at varying depths as well as recording any directional migrations patterns that may occur.

 

Reef check – Reef checks are carried out on a global scale all over the world and are key to monitoring the health of coral reefs. There are three identifying categories used to monitor the health of coral reefs including Fish, Invertebrates and Substrates, for each category there are a number of key indicators which are monitored to help determine the health of the coral reef system.

 

Within the Sapodilla Cayes, where the project is based, there are currently five different study areas where reef check surveys are carried out; each site is strategically placed to ensure the entire marine reserve is covered to provide a good resolution of results.

 

Coral watch – These are carried out to monitor the health and condition of coral reefs around the world. This aspect of the programme involves simple non-evasive techniques for monitoring the levels of coral bleaching and the assessment of coral health, using colour charts based on the exact colour of bleached as well as healthy corals. Each square of the colour chart corresponds to a concentration of symbionts in the coral tissue which is directly linked to the health of the coral. All data collected using this method around the world is collated into a central database which is used to compare the condition of coral reefs on a worldwide scale.

Leg 3 – How will I be involved?: 1 - 8 weeks

Next Leg

Destination info

Lots of people are yet to discover Belize, it’s a hidden gem in the heart of Central America. Nestled just south of Mexico and next to Guatemala on the Caribbean Sea, Belize is only a short flight from the United States.

 

The Belizean people are very friendly and polite. Travellers feel welcomed and comfortable and lots of locals, especially in Punta Gorda where our Diving and Marine Conservation programme is based, love to talk to tourists and hear all about other countries and cultures!

 

The Belize barrier reef, a UNESCO world heritage site, is the second largest in the world and boasts an incredible spectacle of marine life. 

  • Location: Sapodilla Cayes Marine Reserve

Lionfish – Since November 2009 the number of Lionfish in the local area has rapidly increased and now divers on this project are spotting Lionfish on every dive – something that was a rare occurrence a few years ago. In an effort to control the number of Lionfish in the area and limit the impact they are having on indigenous species, all divers will carry a spear on each dive and remove as many as they can!

 

Some of the fish speared during dives are dissected to study their stomach contents to monitor their diet.

As well as spearing the Lionfish, the team in Belize are also trying to introduce Lionfish as a food source to Moray Eels to further assist in keeping population numbers under control. If Moray Eels are spotted then divers will feed the speared Lionfish to them.

 

Whale Shark Project – It’s not possible to guarantee an encounter with a Whale Shark but if you are lucky enough to come across one of these majestic creatures on a dive you will need to record as much information as possible. Each Whale Shark has its own unique pattern of pale blue stripes and spots, so you’ll be asked to take photographs (without flash) and make notes about the skin pattern, size and other identifying factors to form a detailed record.

 

Following any Whale Shark encounters, you’ll be asked to submit the sightings data and images to an online database that can be accessed worldwide. In order to participate in this Whale Shark project you will be required to pledge to follow the Whale Shark code of conduct.

 

Lobster – Using the rover diver technique, divers will conduct lobster surveys to obtain vital data on lobster population numbers in the area. Surveys are normally conducted along walls in groups of approximately 6 divers, the diver at the bottom of the line will normally be at about 25m and the person at the top of the line on the top of the wall. Additionally 2 divers carrying slates and a measuring stick will coax lobsters out of their holes, in order to collect the required data; they first determine the sex of the lobster followed by the total length as well as the length of the tail, if a female lobster is found, divers will look to see whether eggs are being carried. This process normally continues for a 100m section along a wall, with the diver at the deepest depth being rotated through others in the group.

 

Conch – In pairs, divers and snorkelers go down to sandy areas where large conch populations are found. One buddy is given callipers and a slate while the other will have a measuring device and tags which are used to mark the Conch. You will need to record the lip thickness (to determine the age and sexual maturity), size of spiral, total size of conch, habitat, depth and tag number. Once tagging projects have been completed, the team conducts a number of survey dives each week throughout the year to locate tagged Conch, taking notes of the tag number and location at each sighting.

 

All of the data collected during these incredibly important surveys is allowing the team to map out the key, biologically important, areas of the Marine Reserve in which they operate, particularly with regard to population numbers and activity. As a result of some of the information collected, the Belizean Government implemented ‘no take zones’ in the Sapodilla Cayes Marine Reserve; this is already having a positive impact on population numbers and in turn is also helping boost populations of species that feed on Conch, including the Spotted Eagle Ray.

 

Reef check – The team leader will set out a 100m transect line, which 3 buddy teams will use for the survey, one team will count fish, one for invertebrates and one for substrates. The fish survey will be carried out first to ensure that the fish do not get disturbed. Working in buddy pairs, one buddy will be timing whilst the other counts the number of indicator fish in a 5 metre cube area for 90 seconds; this process is repeated until the length of the transect has been completed. The second team will survey invertebrates, with one buddy on each side of the transect line, they will be responsible for counting the number of invertebrates inside a 2.5 metre width on each side of the transect line; during the survey you’ll be looking under rocks and ledges and into holes to ensure you haven’t missed anything. The role of the third team will be to focus on the substrates, one buddy will be required to drop a plumb line with a small weight attached onto the transect line markings at 50cm intervals, once the line has settled a hand sign will be given to the other buddy who will need to record the data on the slate. During the surveys the team leader will records a site description, paying particular attention to any anchor or coral damage as well as any visible disease etc.

 

Coral Watch – As part of coral watch you will be diving in buddy pairs using a colour chart along with a slate and pencil. Using the roving technique, you’ll simply be matching the coral colour to the health monitoring chart as well as identifying the species where possible and recording the results on the slate. Following the dive, all data collected will be collated and submitted to the data sheet which will be made available on the project website and can be accessed worldwide and used to compare the varying condition of coral around the world.

Important note: Not all of the surveys and methods are guaranteed to feature as part of your programme in Belize, some activities are seasonal while others can be dependent on the length of stay, dive experience and the number of participants on the programme. Our in-country team will give you an overview of the activities that you are likely to be involved in during your stay as part of your orientation at the beginning of your stay in Belize.  

What should I expect? : 1 - 8 weeks

Next Leg

Destination info

Lots of people are yet to discover Belize, it’s a hidden gem in the heart of Central America. Nestled just south of Mexico and next to Guatemala on the Caribbean Sea, Belize is only a short flight from the United States.

 

The Belizean people are very friendly and polite. Travellers feel welcomed and comfortable and lots of locals, especially in Punta Gorda where our Diving and Marine Conservation programme is based, love to talk to tourists and hear all about other countries and cultures!

 

The Belize barrier reef, a UNESCO world heritage site, is the second largest in the world and boasts an incredible spectacle of marine life.

  • Location: Sapodilla Cayes Marine Reserve

Be prepared for some early starts in Belize during the week as you’ll be rising with the sun each morning and after a nice cup of coffee, some fresh fruit and a biscuit or two, you’ll be off on your first dive of the day! After your first dive, you’ll have worked up an appetite for the delicious Belizean breakfast that will be waiting for you when you get back from your dive. After breakfast there will be time for conservation training, PADI tuition or just relaxing in a hammock with a good book whilst enjoying the beautiful surroundings.

 

The second dive of the day is normally mid-morning and with most dive sites being only about 10 minutes or so away from the island, you’ll head back to base afterwards for a hearty lunch.

 

The third dive of the day is usually mid-afternoon and whenever possible (weather permitting of course) at least 1 night dive will be offered each week to those who are interested. All volunteers wishing to participate in night dives MUST bring their own dive torch.

 

The evenings on the island in Belize are normally a low key affair, watching the sunset over the Caribbean Sea with a cold beer or rum punch in hand to end the day, followed by a delicious dinner and good chat with your fellow divers and new found friends.  

There’s more to explore….: 1 - 8 weeks

Destination info

Lots of people are yet to discover Belize, it’s a hidden gem in the heart of Central America. Nestled just south of Mexico and next to Guatemala on the Caribbean Sea, Belize is only a short flight from the United States.

 

The Belizean people are very friendly and polite. Travellers feel welcomed and comfortable and lots of locals, especially in Punta Gorda where our Diving and Marine Conservation programme is based, love to talk to tourists and hear all about other countries and cultures!

 

The Belize barrier reef, a UNESCO world heritage site, is the second largest in the world and boasts an incredible spectacle of marine life. 

  • Location: Sapodilla Cayes Marine Reserve

It’s not all work on this programme though, as well as taking part in the amazing dives during the week on this programme you’ll have free time each weekend, giving you the perfect opportunity to explore more of what Belize has to offer.

 

Accommodation is included at the weekend (meals are not included) in the programme however the weekends are a great opportunity to see this amazing country. The team in Belize can help arrange activities over the weekend for you and give some great recommendations on places to visit during your time off – Belize has so much to offer!  

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Trip Notes include a full itinerary, country guides and travel advice on visas, money, insurance and the local weather. By filling in your details you'll also be kept updated on all the latest news, offers and stories on this particular trip. Happy reading!

What's included?

  • Accommodation
  • Meals when on the island
  • Castaway style island stays
  • All diving including recreational dives. Normally 2-4 dives per day subject to weather conditions
  • Dive equipment (excluding wetsuits, booties, masks and snorkels)
  • PADI Open Water Diver course
  • Training for survey techniques and methodologies
  • Support and guidance from in-country team
  • Airport transfers from Punta Gorda

What's not included?

  • Flights
  • Travel insurance (required to participate in the programme)
  • Diving insurance (required to participate in the programme)
  • Visas
  • Meals at weekends and when not on the island
  • Items of a personal nature including spending money
  • US$50 administration fee for those doing the PADI Open Water Course
  • Marine reserve fee – US$25 per week or US$75 per month

Additional Information & FAQs

Minimum age

Minimum age 18 years. 

 

Accommodation

During your time at the project you’ll be staying in beautiful cabanas with sea views; you’ll have your own cabana but bathroom facilities are shared. Accommodation is basic but comfortable and is all you’ll need after a long day of diving.

 

Accommodation at weekends is included in the programme, but why not take the opportunity to use your free time to travel in Belize and experience some of its fascinating sites and sounds. The team at the project are able to assist you in arranging weekend accommodation elsewhere if you wish and have some great recommendations for all budgets.
 

 

Meals

Three meals per day will be included and prepared for you by the team when you are on the island. Meals will generally consist of local ingredients and plenty of fresh fish! Most dietary requirements can be catered for, but please ensure that you make us aware prior to departure, as well as the in-country team when you arrive.

 

At weekends, meals are not included but this is a great opportunity to explore other areas of Belize and try out some of the great local restaurants. The team in Belize will be able to give you some great recommendations on places to visit during your free time.
 

 

Advice & Safety

Throughout your programmes you will have the support and guidance of the programme co-ordinator and team. You will be provided with competent assistance and help with any questions or advice you may need during your stay.

 

In addition, you will have access to a 24 hour emergency contact number so you can contact one of our UK staff at any time should you need to.

 

 

FAQ

1. Do I need to take a sleeping bag?

No, all bedding will be provided for you.

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2. Do I need to take a mosquito net?

Mosquito nets aren't provided so if you want one then you will have to take one with you. They don't have too many bugs as a nice sea breeze normally keeps them at bay!

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3. Will there be a safety deposit box/safe available?

No safety deposit box will be available however you will be on a private island which has a caretaker at all times so all belongings are secure!

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What will I see in Belize?

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What other travellers thought

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Overall rating: (9/10) (5 reviews)
Belize Dive and Marine Conservation

Sybille Lambotte - September 2013

How would you rate your overall experience?
(10/10)
Give us up to 10 words that sum up your experience: for example - "Great experience, made new friends, totally unforgettable!"

Great experience, made new friends, totally unforgettable!

Please rate the service received from our team before departure
(10/10)
Please rate the accuracy of your pre-departure information
(10/10)
Please rate the service provided by the team in country
(10/10)
Please rate the accommodation during your stay
(8/10)
Please rate the worthwhileness of any volunteering in your trip if applicable.
(10/10)
Please rate your airport pickup (where applicable)
(10/10)
Please rate your in-country orientation
(10/10)
What were the highlights of your trip?

I would like to tell first that this trip is AWSOME!!! the staff is great! accommodation is simple but kine!!! and the most important is the diving is GREAT!!!!!

Do you have 3 top tips for future travellers?

take water proof luggage! don't forget your rain coat! be ready for one of the very best trip of your life!!

Is there anything else you would have liked to have added to your itinerary?

nothing the trip is great like that!!

Any other comments?

If You Don't Know Were To Go On Holiday, Your Friend Are Not Interest In Diving, You Wan't To Learn Some More About Marine Life!! Then This Is The Trip You Need To Book!! I Had Some Trouble Independent From My Trip With Them But They Helped Me Very Nicely!! So You Are Gonna Love It!!!!

Would you travel with our company again?

yes

Would you recommend us?

Yes

Belize Dive and Marine Conservation2013-09-07

Alex Taylor - July 2013

How would you rate your overall experience?
(10/10)
Please rate the service received from our team before departure
(8/10)
Please rate the accuracy of your pre-departure information
(8/10)
Please rate the service provided by the team in country
(10/10)
Please rate the accommodation during your stay
(6/10)
Please rate the worthwhileness of any volunteering in your trip if applicable.
(10/10)
Please rate your airport pickup (where applicable)
(10/10)
Please rate your in-country orientation
(10/10)
Would you travel with our company again?

yes

Would you recommend us?

Yes

Belize Dive and Marine Conservation2013-07-28

Kristie Lee - July 2013

How would you rate your overall experience?
(10/10)
Give us up to 10 words that sum up your experience: for example - "Great experience, made new friends, totally unforgettable!"

An unforgettable experience, perfect before going to college.

Please rate the service received from our team before departure
(10/10)
Please rate the accuracy of your pre-departure information
(10/10)
Please rate the service provided by the team in country
(10/10)
Please rate the accommodation during your stay
(10/10)
Please rate the worthwhileness of any volunteering in your trip if applicable.
(10/10)
Please rate your airport pickup (where applicable)
(10/10)
Please rate your in-country orientation
(10/10)
What were the highlights of your trip?

The whole trip was a highlight! Every moment was so much fun and I can't wait to do it again!

Do you have 3 top tips for future travellers?

Don't pack too much, on the island that you are on 5 days of the week you will be wearing a bathing suit most of the time. BRING A CAMERA Take one weekend to go to Placencia.

Any other comments?

Take This Trip, The Staff Is Wonderful, The Diving Is Great And It Will Be An Experience You Will Never Forget.

Would you travel with our company again?

yes

Would you recommend us?

Yes

Belize Dive and Marine Conservation2013-07-13

James Grinstead - July 2013

How would you rate your overall experience?
(10/10)
Give us up to 10 words that sum up your experience: for example - "Great experience, made new friends, totally unforgettable!"

Unique, beautiful, well-run, relaxing, informative, sociable, made new friends, learned new skills

Please rate the service received from our team before departure
(10/10)
Please rate the accuracy of your pre-departure information
(10/10)
Please rate the service provided by the team in country
(10/10)
Please rate the accommodation during your stay
(10/10)
Please rate the worthwhileness of any volunteering in your trip if applicable.
(10/10)
Please rate your airport pickup (where applicable)
(10/10)
Please rate your in-country orientation
(10/10)
What were the highlights of your trip?

Beautiful location - Learning a new skill - participating in conservation - lionfish spearing - meeting new people and making new friends

Do you have 3 top tips for future travellers?

If arriving with no dive qualifications and are planning to take the Padi open water with Reef CI, read the open water manual / watch the DVDs before the trip. This will save you having to do this on arrival, leaving more time for diving. If interested in night dives, which are excellent, invest in a good quality dive torch. Cheap ones tend not to last. If possible, buy your own wetsuit that fits well. While they are available to borrow, sizing can be an issue. For the climate in Belize, a 3mm-5mm wetsuit is ideal - I personally preferred a 'shorty'

Is there anything else you would have liked to have added to your itinerary?

Had I been in Belize longer I would have liked to spent more time travelling on the mainland - i.e. visiting ruins, zip-lining, tubing etc This, however, was a personal choice, as there is plenty of time for such activities on the weekends

Would you travel with our company again?

yes

Would you recommend us?

Yes

Belize Dive and Marine Conservation2013-07-10

Grace Wong - June 2013

How would you rate your overall experience?
(7/10)
Give us up to 10 words that sum up your experience: for example - "Great experience, made new friends, totally unforgettable!"

Good experience for marine volunteering. Small close-knit island community.

Please rate the service received from our team before departure
(5/10)
Please rate the accuracy of your pre-departure information
(3/10)
Please rate the service provided by the team in country
(10/10)
Please rate the accommodation during your stay
(7/10)
Please rate the worthwhileness of any volunteering in your trip if applicable.
(8/10)
Please rate your airport pickup (where applicable)
(10/10)
Please rate your in-country orientation
(7/10)
What were the highlights of your trip?

Dissecting lionfish.

Do you have 3 top tips for future travellers?

bring your own wetsuit, snorkel and mask. you don't need dresses for this trip.

Any other comments?

I Liked The Old Method Of Communicating With Just One Person Assigned To Me During Pre-departure. There Were Too Many People Communicating With Me This Time And It Was Too Confusing. The Notes Said All Meals Were Included Monday To Friday But In Reality, Only Meals On The Island Were Provided Which Means Monday Breakfast, Friday Lunch And Friday Dinner Were Not Included. The Trip Notes Need To Mention That The Accommodations Are Basic And There May Not Be Enough Rainwater During Dry Season For Showers. I Didn't Get To Shower The Whole Week I Was On The Island! And Include More Information Like The Boat Ride To The Island Is Over An Hour Long.

Would you travel with our company again?

no

Would you recommend us?

No

Belize Dive and Marine Conservation2013-06-01

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