Enjoy the white sands, blue waters and relaxed Caribbean atmosphere of Belize while making a valuable contribution to the protection of this rare and elusive species
‘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.