Belize Manatee Conservation
‘No shoes, no shirt, no worries’ is the infamous motto for the Cayes off the east coast of Belize. Throughout your volunteer experience you will have the opportunity to discover famous barrier reefs and marvel at an extraordinary array of colourful reef fish, sharks, rays, sea urchins, anemones, octopus, sea turtles and manatees, who feed on deep green sea grass beds, the worlds underwater grasslands. In your free time, you can also explore this exquisite, undisturbed underwater world as you learn to dive off the Cayes of Belize or dive the world renowned Blue Hole.
Your primary focus on this project will be surveying the population, behaviour and habitat of the West-Indian manatee. Manatees in Belize are listed as vulnerable by the IUCN red list and their numbers are declining rapidly. This species is at risk from habitat disturbance and degradation, pollution, climate change and increasing tourism. Whilst recording manatee sightings and behaviours, in relation to human disturbance and various environmental factors, you will explore, map and monitor vast seagrass beds for the benefit of the manatees and other species that rely on these habitats. You will also have the opportunity to survey and monitor coral reef habitats, populations of reef fish, commercially and ecologically important invertebrate species, and may even get the chance to monitor local shark populations.
Your days will be eventful; the work will be challenging, rewarding and fun. You will have the opportunity to make a valuable contribution to the conservation of this rare and elusive species, whose numbers are rapidly declining. Results from this study will be used to apply further protections to the manatee and the seagrass meadows that they rely on, and encourage restoration work within the seagrass meadows, without which, they will continue to decline. This work will also allow for awareness programmes to be created with local stakeholders and businesses, further protecting these vital populations.
*Please note: the peak manatee season begins in April and ends in October; sightings outside of this period are expected to be less frequent, but the vital work on the sea grass habitats continues year round*
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More information about this gap year opportunity...
Snorkelling regularly (weather permitting)
Survey the abundance and behaviour of local manatee populations
Explore, map and monitor vast seagrass beds
Explore pristine coral reefs and their diverse array of fish and marine invertebrates, whilst assisting with surveying
Opportunistic cetacean and shark sightings
Work with local Belizean partners and conservation organisations
Work with local schools on marine biology topics and beach cleans
Contribute to the Cayes Management Plan and the overall Belize National Resource Management Agenda
Airport pickup and transfer to the project site is provided for free if you arrive on the 1st Monday of the month.
If you want to join the project at any other time, you can book an airport pick up and transfer from Frontier for an additional $100USD / £65GBP.
Beach camp at our research station on Caye Caulker
Before you go
Travel & medical advice & documentation
Discounted medical kit
Free Frontier t-shirt
UK residential briefing weekend including food, accommodation and training FREE for 10 week+ volunteers (£80 per person for those participating for less that 10 weeks)
Airport pickup (for first Monday of the month arrivals), alternative start date possible
Internal ground transfers & in-transit accommodation (first Monday of the month arrivals) alternative start dates possible
Local orientation and training
24-hour international HQ back-up
Vocational academic diploma or certificate qualification in Tropical Habitat Conservation available
Dive training courses available. Dive training for PADI Open Water and Advanced Open Water price includes PIC cards, PADI membership, and use of Frontier project equipment and diving equipment including tanks, regs, BCDs, weights and compressor.
Dive training PADI Open Water available at extra cost (subject to availability)
Dive training PADI Advanced Open Water at extra cost (subject to availability)
Discounted further dive courses: PADI Emergency First Response, PADI Rescue Diver, and PADI Divemaster qualifications (subject to availability
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