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This project is focused on the conservation and research of the West Indian manatee. Manatees in Belize are listed as highly endangered with their numbers rapidly declining. This species is not only at risk from habitat disturbance and destruction, but also from increased pollution, climate change and tourism. Throughout your volunteer project you will have the opportunity to discover famous barrier reefs and marvel at an extraordinary selection of marine life, including reef fish, sharks, rays, sea urchins, anemones, octopus, sea turtles and manatees. During your free time you will be able to explore the warm, clear waters of the Caribbean, as you learn to dive off the cayes of Belize.
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Location of the Project:  Caye Caulker, Belize
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Project length:  Min 1 week - Max 10 weeks
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Arrival Airport:  Belize City Goldson Intl Apt (BZE)
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Volunteer Work:  Marine Research and Conservation
Age:  18-50 (Age Exceptions: This project accepts volunteers who are 16-17 years old with a letter of consent from a parent or guardian.)
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Number of Volunteers:  Up to 20 international volunteers
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Important Note:  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 make a valuable contribution to the project.

What's Included

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Accommodations:  Tents or rustic beach huts
Food:  Three meals a day (volunteers will be required to help prepare meals.)
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Airport Transfers:  Airport pickup and transfer to the project site via water taxi is provided if you arrive on the 1st Monday of the month. If you want to join the project at any other time, you will have to pay an additional fee for a transfer.
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Support:  Comprehensive and professional pre-departure travel guidance, 24/7 GoEco emergency hotline, experienced local field team.

What's not Included

Flights, visas (if required), travel health insurance, some dive equipment, personal expenses.
Nestled on the eastern coast of Central America lies the nation of Belize. Situated between Mexico and Guatemala, the small country of Belize is encompassed by stunning tropical beaches to the east and dense green jungles to the west. The warm clear waters of the Caribbean plays home to the second largest barrier reef in the world. This UNESCO world Heritage Site is renowned for its low - lying islands, better known as cayes, and an incredible array of marine life and snorkeling and diving opportunities.
As a volunteer on this project you will be responsible for recording manatee sightings and behaviors both in relation to human disturbance and different environmental factors. You will explore, map and monitor seagrass beds for the benefit of the manatees and other species as well as survey and monitor coral reef habitats, and populations of reef fish. Volunteers may even get the chance to monitor local shark populations. Results from this study will be used to apply further protection to the manatee and the seagrass meadows they rely on.

Some of your tasks may include:    
  • Snorkeling in pristine ecosystems while collecting essential research data
  • Surveying populations of manatees and their vital seagrass habitats
  • PADI dive training and qualifications in your free time (for an additional fee)
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 vital work on the seagrass habitats continues year round. 
Internet
Internet:  WiFi is not available within the camp itself, but there are bars and hostels in the area that volunteers may go to. It is not likely volunteers will have this option every day of the project, however.
Accommodations
Accommodations:  Volunteers will stay at a beach camp in locally built huts or tents. The camp is situated in a clearing on the beach and is very simple. Your "shower" will be a jug or a bucket of water and you cook over an open campfire. On occasion you may have to journey further to reach a remote survey site, where you will stay at a "satellite camp"; which consists of a mosquito net pitched on a distant beach.
Food:  Food at camp is simple and nutritious and consists largely of locally sourced fresh vegetables and fruit, rice, beans and noodles. Part of your role will be to help with the cooking and clearing up after meals. Creating meals over an open campfire or baking bread in the campfire oven will soon become second nature.
 Please take note of this project's minimum requirements:
  • Must be a strong swimmer and/or diver
  • Fit and healthy 
  • Willing to prepare meals 
  • Hold an interest in marine life and conservation efforts
  • Able to cope with basic living conditions .
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