Based on a tiny private island in the Sapodilla Cayes, off the coast of Punta Gorda, this marine
conservation project has worked in conjunction with the fisheries department for the past 7 years
researching issues affecting the world’s second largest coral reef. Focusing currently on the invasion of
alien lion fish to the Belizean waters, as well as monitoring Lobster populations, Conch migration, coral
health, fish species and whale shark identification, volunteers have a great deal of work to do in the blue
waters of the Caribbean. Volunteers on this project spend Monday to Friday on the island, generally
diving 3 times a day. The weekends are spent back on land, relaxing and enjoying the local Belizean life.
PADI qualifications are provided for non-divers or those wishing to improve skills.
NOTE - special weeks now available : Internships (4 wks in Jan and Aug), Underwater Photography (2 wks
2-15 Jun), Singles week (24th Feb)
Lion fish, an Asian species with no natural predators in the Caribbean were thought to have been released in Florida in the 90’s. Now with a population as dense as 1,000 per acre in some areas, they are decimating the Belizean reef. One lionfish in an area has been found to decrease the juvenile fish population by 80% in just 5 weeks! The main focus of the project is to reduce their population through spear fishing, encouraging locals to catch them for food and to teach moray eels to hunt them. All research information gathered is provided to the fisheries department where important decisions rely on the data. The island can accept a maximum of 10-12 volunteers and has approx 5-6 staff on site.
Punta Gorda is a charming beachside town – the most southern in Belize. With its wooden houses and waterfront promenade, it has a laid back and friendly population with a thriving Saturday market. You can visit Mayan villages, hike in the jungle or easily travel into Guatemala at weekends. The volunteer house is s short walk from the town centre.
The Sapodilla Cayes Marine reserve covers and area of about 125 sq km with fourteen sand and mangrove cayes. Waters are generally crystal clear with great visibility and the waters are home to nesting turtles, migrating whale sharks, manta rays and thousands of other fascinating fish and coral species. The island where you will stay is less than an acre, but with a volleyball court, a covering of palm trees with hammocks to relax in, snorkeling and a busy schedule, you will look forward to early nights and early starts - and even the occasional night dive.
• Duration: 2-26 weeks
• Cost: £1565 ($2739) 2 weeks, £600 ($1050) for each additional week thereafter
• Requirements: 18+
• Location – Sapodilla Cayes Marine National Park, Belize
• Project activities: Diving, spear fishing, species identification, documenting shell measurements,
• Working hours - 6.00- 17.00 generally 3 dives per day – weather dependent
• Projects availability - Arrivals every Sunday. Closed October 1- November 2, November 19-23 and February 4-15 and for weather and maintenance.
• Airport pick up and drop off from Punta Gorda Airport
• Accommodation: In a single or shared room on the island during the week and on the mainland (in Punta Gorda) at weekends
• Weekly Transfers to and from the island at weekends
• Food while on the island
• All diving equipment (we recommend you bring your own mask and wetsuit)
• PADI Open Water or Advanced course
• Flights (internal flights from Belize city to Punta Gorda can be arranged for $145 each way per person)
• PADI admin fee for certification - USD$50
• PADI manual for the relevant course
• Food wile on mainland (Weekends, Monday morning & Friday afternoon)
• Marine reserve island fees - USD$25 per week or USD$75 per month
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