Nestled in Central America on the Caribbean coast between Mexico and Guatemala, Belize lies at the centre of the Mesoamerican "biodiversity hotspot". Pristine subtropical forests provide a refuge for wildlife and conceal ancient Mayan ruins whilst the warm clear waters of the Caribbean lap sandy Cayes offering access to the world’s second longest barrier reef and a UNESCO World Heritage Site; renowned for its spectacular snorkelling and diving.
Infused throughout is the country’s culture influenced by Belize’s Afro-Caribbean roots, creating a fabulous laid-back atmosphere.
‘No shoes, no shirt, no worries’ is the infamous motto for the Cayes off the east coast of Belize, and you will have the opportunity to discover infamous barrier reefs, dive the Blue Hole in your free time, marvel at an extraordinary array of colourful reef fish and rays, sea urchins, anemones, octopus and even sea turtles feed at luxuriant sea grass beds. You can explore this exquisite, untarnished underwater world as you learn to dive off the Cayes of Belize.
You will explore, chart and monitor extensive areas of pristine coral and vast seagrass beds, record populations of reef fish and commercially important invertebrate species, and assist in annual reef health check. On shore you will explore the lushforests of red, white and black mangroves; the unique ecosystem which bridges the land and the ocean.
Your days will be eventful; the work will be challenging, rewarding and fun. Your discoveries will be of huge benefit to the conservation of these fabulous coral reefs and you will gain immense satisfaction from knowing that you have helped protect these precious natural resources for future generations.
The results from your investigations will supply vital baseline information on the Belizean coastline to enable the sustainable management of natural resources in the region and the protection of the marine wildlife in partnership with the Belize Fisheries Department.
WHAT WILL I BE DOING?
Soak up the chilled out, Caribbean atmosphere of Belize whilst taking part in a long term and sustainable marine research and conservation programme. The Frontier Belize programme is run in association with the Belize Fisheries Department, and this research and conservation project aims to provide the local communities, stakeholders and government bodies with the baseline biodiversity data they need to design and implement management plans for the future protection of this pristine marine ecosystem.
To gather the data needed you will undertake rapid sampling diving and snorkel surveys, underwater line and belt transects (weather permitting for all diving), mangrove surveys and opportunistic mammal sightings with one day off each week. Your activities will involve locating and mapping the extensive, pristine coral reefs and studying the various communities existing on them. The number of dives completed each week on the project depend on the quarterly science plan and itinerary as set by the Frontier field staff. If you require dive training, this is available in-country upon your arrival at the Frontier camp.
Whilst diving and snorkelling in this Caribbean odyssey, you'll see an extraordinary array of animals from colourful reef fish species to nudibranchs, sea cucumbers to cushion stars and spiny urchins to octopuses. By the end of your project you will be capable of identifying a wide range of colourful and patterned reef organisms, as well as being an experienced and competent diver. Although the work is intense and challenging you'll get immense satisfaction from having made a valuable contribution to the conservation of this marine environment.
Volunteers who join the project for less than 4 weeks may not be able to participate in the full range of project activities and surveys, but will still be able to make a valuable contribution to the work. You will return home with vast numbers of photos, lots of new friends, a wealth of fascinating stories and extraordinary memories.
You'll find your team to be a fun, dynamic mix of ages and experiences, with members who all share a passion about travelling in developing countries and conserving nature. Your staff will be a friendly and welcoming group who are highly experienced in their research field and many of whom will have been Frontier volunteers at an earlier stage in their career.