Marine Science Internship in Belize
Experience/ Qualifications required: No experience or qualifications required, however an interest in Marine Sciences, Oceanography or related subject is recommended.
Nationalities: This programme is open to all nationalities (subject to visa requirements.)
Typical Hours: Monday-Friday; 6-8 hours per day; Weekends free for personal time and travel in Belize.
Remuneration: Unpaid position
This 4 week programme is designed and run by marine science professionals, to give 8 students and graduates from all areas of Marine Sciences practical experience and insight into thier chosen career by working alongside a team of researchers and government authorities in Belize, home to the second largest reef system in the world.
Throughout the programme you will shadow and work alongside the founder of one of the most highly respected organisations in Belize, the fisheries department, local fisherman and communities to learn about and tackle the threats to the marine environment, and gain experience of conservation methodologies.
During the internship you can expect to gain a comprehensive knowledge of the Caribbean fish, coral, invert species and coral bleaching and will see first hand the effect of sustainable fishing regulations on a fishing communities. Most importantly you will get to contribute a chapter to the organisation's annual report, which will be published, with full credits, and submitted to Belize Fisheries department and other key stakeholders.
Interested and want to find out more? Download more trip information and detailed itinerary HERE!
This is an exceptional opportunity for students and graduates in Marine sciences to boost your CV and gain practical experience with one of the top marine research organisations in the Caribbean. Throughout the programme you will gain experience in marine park management and a thorough oversight of conservation methods and techniques used in Marine science today.
You will also have the opportunity assist with research into the effects of issues such as climate change, introduction of alien species into the marine ecosystem, and the socio-economic impact that regulation has on communities in the region. By the end of the programme you will have detailled knowledge and experience of the techniques, methods, challenges and considerations that exist in marine park management and a fantastic introduction to a career in Marine Science, oceanography and Marine biology. You will also develop an excellent knowledge of the diverse range of Caribbean flora and fauna, and ecosystem dynamics that exist in this spectacular part of the world. Here is a sample of what you can expect to gain from taking part in the Internship.
- Further PADI dive qualifications, an advantage in Marine Science
- Your own contribution/chapter in published Annual report
- Experience in working with Belize Fisheries department
- Monitoring experience and understanding of a broad spectrum of research methodologies
- Practical insight into Marine Park Management and liaising with fisheries officers
- Comprehensive knowledge of Caribbean fish, invertebrates and coral species
- Understanding of threats to the local marine environment
- Experience in giving fun and educational conservation presentations – to tourists and local children
- Community outreach participation
- Real life insight into the effect of marine/sustainable fishing regulations on a local fishing town
- Here is a weekly breakdown of the types of activities you will be involved with during the programme.
This week we focus on dive training, up to Advanced diver level, and a thorough introduction to the programme.
- Induction and orientation
- Session on conservation methodologies and techniques
- PADI Dive course (Open Water or Advanced)
- Peak performance buoyancy session (for qualified divers)
- Coral identification, Fish identification, Invertebrate identification and Coral bleaching and disease identification
- Choose specialty/ area of focus for the annual report; Coral Watch, Lionfish, Commercial fish species, Lobster, Queen Conch, Whale Sharks, Reef Check
- Fun dives
- Further Coral identification, Fish identification, Invertebrates identification, Coral bleaching and disease identification
- Presentation/workshop with Belize Fisheries Department on Marine Park Management
- Research / Survey/Lionfish spearing dives
- Fun dives
- Training for presentation to Tradewinds guests (sail boat passengers) on the Marine Environment and the general health of the reef that they will host the following week
- Beach clean up
- Comprehensive study and analysis of data for given specialty
- Compilation of data for Annual Report
- Educational session with local children
- Coral, Fish, inverts and coral bleaching and disease identification
- Informal presentation to Tradewinds sail boat guests
- Beach clean up
- Survey dives
- Lionfish spearing dives
- Fun dives!
- Lionfish spearing. Followed by dissection, analysis of stomach contents, preparation and cooking!
- Conduct the PowerPoint presentations on general marine environment and threats to the reef
- Workshop on sustainable fishing practices with local stakeholders
- Complete written section for annual report
- Present your findings to research team, and other interns
- Wrap up party: bbq, presentation and awards
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 Guatamala on the Caribbean Sea, Belize is only a short flight from the United States.
Formerly known as British Honduras, Belize gained its independence in 1981 so it is still a developing nation. It is a small country, only 8866 sq mile (23,300 sq km), 174 miles (280 km) long and 68 miles (109.5 km) wide and has a population of less than 350,000 people.
The official language is English and the majority of the citizens read and speak English fluently making it a perfect holiday destination. Creole people speak their own ‘pigeon’ dialect as well as English, and Garifuna is spoken in the south. Spanish is the first language in the north and in some towns in the west. Other languages are Mayan, Chinese, Mennonite German and Hindi making it a true melting pot of not only languages but also cultures!!
The Belizean people are very friendly and polite. Travellers feel welcomed and comfortable and lots of locals, especially in Placencia where our Internship is based, love to talk to tourists and hear all about other countries and cultures!
Unlike lots of developing nations Belize has an anti harassment law which is extremely refreshing. People may try and sell baskets, jewellery etc, but will not overly harass tourists and are extremely polite about it!
The Belize barrier reef, a UNESCO world heritage site, is the second largest in the world and boasts an incredible spectacle of marine life.
Your base, the Sapodilla Cayes, Belize
The Sapodilla Cayes Marine Reserve covers an area of approximately 125 square kilometers and includes fourteen sand and mangrove cayes along the southernmost tip of the Belize Barrier Reef, a World Heritage site.
The outer portion of the reserve is characterized by shallow water reefs which occur as a fringe around the cayes. The depth of water over these fringing reefs is often less then 15 feet, and some of them are exposed at low tides. The drop off east of the islands is gently sloping, in contrast to the near vertical walls further north and surrounding the outer coral atolls.
Step 1: Application
To apply for this internship we ask you to either call us or apply online. When you apply we will request information on your emergency contact details, passport number and your health background and other important information. At this stage a deposit payment of £199 is requested, this deposit is non-refundable, unless your application is declined by our team in Belize.
Once your application has been recieved we will request the following details from you.
• A current CV /resume detailing your work and study history
• A cover letter outlining your key objectives you plan to achieve during your Internship
Please note: If your internship is part of your university course, and requires accreditation we also request a letter from your tutor supporting your application for an internship.
Step 2: Acceptance of your placement
Once our team in Belize have reviewed your application, and accepted you onto the programme for your preferred dates we will contact you to confirm your application has been successful. We recommend you purchase insurance as soon as you secure your placement.
Step 3: Online account details
Once your placement has been secured, we will set up and send you details of your online account login which will take you to your personal Real Gap Experience secure website. Here you can view details of your internship, along with info specific to your time in Belize. This includes; what to expect during your time in Belize, what to take with you, country and visa information and details such as insurance and where to get necessary vaccinations. Once you have your login details you can go ahead and book flights, to do this please contact your travel advisor who will give you a quote.
In the run up to your placement, our expert team will be here to answer any questions you may have and to fully prepare you for your time in Belize.
There are plenty of things to do in Belize, besides diving, like taking a trip to the ancient Mayan ruins, dating back to 500AD. Lim Ni Punit or Lubaantum are both about a drive from Placencia where you will be based at weekends. Lim Ni Punit has the most amazing views over the jungle and Lubaantum is famous for its crystal scull!
Caracol near San Ignacio is a vast Mayan city hidden deep in the jungle, the largest in Belize, its population was circa 150,000, more than half of Belize’s population today!
The famous Tikal in Guatemala, one of the world’s most impressive Mayan sites. It is so big that you need at least 2 days to see the major parts.
Visit other Cayes such as the travellers favourite Caye Caulker or the popular Ambergris Caye and dive the famous ‘Blue Hole’.
Visit the nearby Blue Creek National Park for spectacular rivers and waterfalls. Swim through the amazing caves at Blue Creek where you eventually get to an underground waterfall. Visit the stunning waterfalls at San Antonio and Rio Blanco.
Take a combined trip to include Mayan Ruins, jungle tours, visiting traditional Mayan villages and the amazing waterfalls. Take a boat trip up one of the spectacular rivers and discover the incredible wildlife, the many varieties of birds, howler monkeys and iguanas in the trees.
Take a fishing trip to Port Honduras Marine Reserve and see the Manatees at Pains Creek National Park.
There is something for everyone in or around PG and the ReefCI team are here to help book any tours, set you up with interesting local tour guides or simply point you in the right direction for some of Belizeans best food and live music!!
We can arrange any of the above or book you on jungle kayak trips, bird watching tours or to visit a cacao farm and see first hand how chocolate is made. We can arrange cheap bike hire, mayan village stays and even a private lesson at the local drumming school, the hands-on fun way to learn about Garifuna drumming and culture.
Accommodation & Meals
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.
There will also be access to wifi on the island however please take into consideration that it may be slightly temperamental as you are in the middle of the ocean.
Accommodation at weekends is included in the programme and will be at a local hostel. If you would like to upgrade you will need to pay the difference in price directly in country.
Why not take the opportunity to use your free time at weekends 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.
Three meals per day will be included and prepared for you by the team while you're 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.
Eligibility & FAQ's
Minimum 18 years
Do I Need To Take A Sleeping Bag?
No, all bedding will be provided for you.
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!
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!
- Board and lodgings Monday – Friday on the island
- Weekend accommodation in house on the mainland (food not included)
- PADI Open Water or Advanced course (US$100 admin fee paid locally)
- Dive equipment (not including mask, snorkel, wetsuit, booties and dive torch)
- Education on conservation methodologies and techniques; Coral Watch, Lionfish spearing, Commercial fish species surveys, Lobster monitoring, Queen conch monitoring, whale shark and Reef Check
- Caribbean fish, coral and invertebrate identification
- In depth training on one element of conservation methodologies for annual report
- Education on sustainable fishing practices and threats to the Marine Environment
- Comprehensive study of data collected and data analysis
- Contribution in weekly marine/conservation education sessions with sail boat passengers from Tradewinds cruise club
- Workshop on sustainable fishing practices with local stakeholders and local fishermen
- Practical insight into marine park management
- Involvement in community outreach programs
- Educational session with local school children
What's Not Included
- Meals at weekends
- International flights
- Travel insurance
- Marine reserve fee – US$25 per week or US$75 per month
You will need to make your way to Placencia on your programme start date (Sunday). If you are arranging to fly to Placencia Airport, the airport code is PLJ.
Your programme end date is a Saturday and you are free to depart from Placencia at any time on your programme end date.
Please note that most connecting flights will require you to make a stopover overnight in the USA so you allow for this extra time when booking flights. Please be aware that security is extremely tight at most USA major airports. If you are connecting from a non-US country, expect a queue for immigration. You will need to ensure you have obtained an ESTA before travel. After the overnight stay in North America, check-in the next day can be extremely slow. Allow 3 hours if possible.
To book your flights, please contact our fantastic flights team on 01892 277 037 who will do their best to get you the best deal on the day. Please provide them with your full name as it is stated in your passport. Before you make the call please make sure you have your required departure dates, return dates and other details you may require.
Please note: If you are flying to Belize via the USA you will need to obtain Travel Authorisation by registering online through the Electronic System for Travel Authorisation (ESTA) no later than 72 hours before departure. This is compulsory and will cost USD$14 to register. To register, please visit: https://esta.cbp.dhs.gov/esta/
It is important that once you have booked your flights you add these details to your Online account, or alternatively you can contact us with your departure date, the flight number and arrival time at your destination.
All nationalities require a full passport that must be valid for 6 months beyond the intended length of stay. It is your responsibility to have the correct personal documents and to obtain your own visa, if one is necessary, in accordance with the regulations of the country you are to visit. The information offered below is to help you with that process. We are not responsible for the actions of local immigration and customs officials, whether at points of entry or otherwise, and any subsequent effects.
For stays of up to 30 days, citizens of the following countries are not required to hold a visa when visiting for tourist purposes only;
Andorra, Antigua & Barbuda, Australia, Austria, Bahamas, Barbados, Belgium, Botswana, Brunei, Bulgaria, Canada, Chile, Costa Rica, Cyprus, Czech Republic, Denmark, Dominica, El Salvador, Estonia, Fiji, Finland, France, Gambia, Germany, Ghana, Greece, Grenada, Guatemala, Guyana, Holy See, Honduras, Hong Kong, Hungary, Iceland, Ireland, Israel, Italy, Jamaica, Kiribati, Latvia, Lesotho, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malawi, Malaysia, Maldives, Malta, Mauritius, Mexico, Monaco, Namibia, Netherlands, New Zealand, Nicaragua, Norway, Panama, Papua New Guinea, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Seychelles, Sierra Leone, Singapore, Slovakia, Slovenia, Solomon Islands, South Africa, Spain, St. Kitts & Nevis, St. Lucia, St. Vincent & the Grenadines, Suriname, Swaziland, Sweden, Switzerland, Tanzania, Tonga, Trinidad & Tobago, Tunisia, Turkey, Tuvalu, Uganda, United Kingdom, United States of America, Uruguay, Vanuatu, Venezuela, Western Samoa, Zambia and Zimbabwe.
All other nationalities should consult their nearest Belizean Embassy or High Commission.
Visa courier service
If you prefer to use a specialist visa courier service to apply for your visa on your behalf, we recommend Visa Central who can offer you assistance and advice, making your visa application straight forward.
To investigate costs for this service click here to select the country or countries that you wish to travel to.
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