Conservation and Marine Ecology

High­lights Require­ments What's Included Dates & Fees Rev­iews
Non-profit
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founded in 1989
Frontier
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Coordinator | David
Coordinator | David

High­lights

PADI dive training and qualifications available
Opportunity to dive in some of the world's best dive sites (e.g. Blue Hole, Turneffe Atoll, Half Moon Caye, Lighthouse Reef, and many more)
Take part in a long term marine monitoring and conservation project
Make lifelong friends and return with incredible stories, photos and memories
Dive in some of the most pristine and renowned marine sites in the world, helping further the research and protection of these pristine ecosystems in Belize. This volunteer program is especially suitable for:
Age 16+
Singles
Couples
Groups
50+

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. Although Belize is distinguished from its neighbours in being the only country in the region with a British colonial heritage, it also has strong ties to Latin America as well as to the Caribbean. With one foot firmly planted in lush interior forests and another foot in the laidback and colourful Caribbean Sea, Belize’s animal and plant life are the stars of the country, thanks to conservation efforts from national and international bodies.

The Belizean government is now working with national management partners and international conservation and aid agencies to protect the county’s invaluable biodiversity. Co-management partners work alongside the Belizean Ministry of Forestry, Fisheries and Sustainable Development with long term aims to protect and conserve key marine and terrestrial hotspots. This is achieved through local conservation awareness, scientific monitoring & research, community support programs and implementation of protected areas co-management plans, and Frontier volunteers are an integral part of this effort.

Record marine biodiversity

To aid decision making and implement protected areas co-management plans, co-partners in Belize require long-term environmental monitoring to be in place to meet both national and international protocols, and for the establishment of more detailed research projects that can provide vital baseline data.

Through marine SCUBA and snorkel surveys you will survey fish, benthic and commercially important invertebrate species using a number of common methodologies currently used in Belize plus taking part in simple community level assessments of these environments. Diving under the supervision of a lead scuba diver, you will become confident and comfortable underwater. Your results will determine the sheer biodiversity of these waters and help formulate long term, sustainable management plans to protect this sensational caye.

Other activities include surveying mangroves, a vital buffer against storm surges caused by cyclones, and an important part of the coastal ecosystem, opportunistic sightings of manateesand cetaceans, beach clean ups, forest restoration work and monthly surveys of conch and lobster.

Belizean culture & communities

Working alongside the Belizean people will give you an insight into their colourful and laidback culture. Community work may include environmental education in local schools to explain Frontier's work, and interviewing local communities on their awareness and knowledge of the local marine reserves, particularly with regards to boundaries, zones and rules and the levels of involvement of local stakeholders in decision-making.


Typical day

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.

Sample Itinerary*

7:00 a.m. – Breakfast at the volunteer house, prepared by the volunteers!

8:30 a.m. – Volunteers leave camp by boat for dive training, or science training at the volunteer house 

12:30 p.m. – Volunteers break for a packed lunch (lunch prepared by volunteers when at the volunteer house)

2:00 p.m.  -  Volunteer work at the volunteer house for the afternoon (beach cleanups, camp maintenance, science training, snorkeling) 

5:00 p.m. – The working day comes to an end. Volunteers are free to catch up on anything, plan for the next day’s work and socialise.

6:00 p.m. – Dinner at the Volunteer house prepared by volunteers!

7:00 p.m. - Socialising… party on a Saturday!

*This itinerary should only be considered as an example of the kind of activities and timescales to expect.  Actual itineraries may vary depending on the season and the requirements of the project.

 

Free-time activities

The Frontier-Belize camp is fun and in your spare time you'll have opportunities to swim and snorkel, go bird watching, play beach volleyball, enjoy the incredible sunsets and stargazing. Alternatively you may enjoy a traditional Saturday night themed camp party, play card games or join in a camp quiz night. After a long hard day of snorkelling and diving you may prefer to relax with a drink and sway in the camp hammock, or sit around the campfire and chat to your new friends.

You will have weekends to enjoy the local culture, excursions, hostels and restaurants. Visit neighbouring Cayes such as San Pedro, Caye Chapelor the wider area of Belize City. Local tour operators offer the chance to dive at the famous Blue Hole, learn to kite surf, windsurf and sail or relax on locally built boats on sunset tours. These can be organised in country via the Frontier-Belize staff. Alternatively you can travel back to the mainland to visit the renowned Belize Zoo, famous Xunantunich Mayan ruins or lush tropical forests. 

Swimming
Sightseeing
Diving/
Snorkling
Shopping/
Souvenirs
Hiking
Sports
Yoga/
Meditation

Require­ments

In order to join the program you need to be at least 16 years old on the program start date.
Language Skills
You need to speak English (intermediate level)
Nationality Restrictions
No restrictions. Helping hands from all over the world are welcome.
Time Commitment
Your helping hand will be required on Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday and Friday from 07:00 - 17:00

What's Included

Services by Frontier
Before you go: 

Pre-departure support
Travel & medical advice & documentation
Equipment advice
Advice on visas and equipment
Discounted medical kit
Free Frontier t-shirt
UK residential briefing weekend including food, accommodation and training (extra cost applies)

In country:
Food
Accommodation
Local orientation and training
24-hour international HQ back-up
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 and weights (personal dive kit i.e. wet suit, fins, mask, snorkel etc not included)

 

Airport Pickup at Philip S.W. Goldson International Airport
Airport pickup and transfer to the project site is provided for free if you arrive on the 1st  or 3rd 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 $120USD. 
Accommodation

During the project you'll live in the beach camp alongside other Frontier volunteers and staff. We aim to provide you with a unique and memorable living experience. The project is situated on the north island at a research station, with living space, toilet, shower facilities and communal living and cooking areas. Camp life is very simple, unsophisticated and fun.

You will be staying in an indoor sleeping area in hammocks or on roll mats, your "shower" will be a jug or a bucket of water and you cook using a simple stove: so prepare for the basic, virtually footprint less, unencumbered lifestyle! 

Dorm Room Camping
Food & Beverages

Food on camp is simple, nutritious and consists largely of locally sourced fresh vegetables and fruit, rice, beans and noodles, all of which are purchased from nearby communities thereby helping to support the local economy. Luxuries such as chocolate, peanut butter, soda and other drinks are available in Belize City, so make sure you stock up before heading to your field camp or at nearby stalls accessible only by boat on weekends.

Part of your role on camp will be to help with the cooking. Creating spectacular meals will become second nature: so get your cookbooks out now and start thinking up recipes! Also, with luck you'll be invited to local feasts and festivals – a great way to engage with local communities and discover local cuisines and cultures.

Internet Access
Limited access at the project site
What's NOT included?
Visa, flights, travel insurance or vaccinations are NOT included in the program fees.
Flight Tickets
The nearest airport is Philip S.W. Goldson International Airport (BZE) in Belize City. We assist you to find cheap flights to Belize.
Travel Insurance
Going abroad is an adventure and it is always best to be prepared. Sudden illness or injury, cancellation or theft - a travel insurance for Belize provides security and is a plus to have.
Vaccines
If you are intending to volunteer in Belize you should seek medical advice before starting your social journey. Check your required vaccinations for Belize.

Dates & Fees

NO CREDIT CARD FEES

Details on arrival

This project First and third Monday of every month, with airport pickup and transfer to project site included in the project cost if you arrive on these dates. If you want to join the project on any other day, airport pick up can be provided for an additional cost of £120 USD. 


Availability
Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec
Duration
1 - 20 weeks

Program fees

Costs: Prices in USD
1 week (min. stay)
$ 1,645
2 weeks
$ 2,045
3 weeks
$ 2,495
4 weeks
$ 2,945
5 weeks
$ 3,545
6 weeks
$ 3,945
7 weeks
$ 4,245
8 weeks
$ 4,695
10 weeks
$ 5,445
20 weeks (max. stay)
$ 8,345
Average fees
$ 1,031 /week

Please note that the above shown program fees are estimated and subject to exchange rate fluctuations. Frontier will let you know about the final price during your application process.
Deposit (15%)
The deposit is simply to reserve your volunteer placement. Payments are handled by PayPal, our trusted global payment provider. If you don't have a PayPal account, you can also pay using a credit card.
Final Payment (85%)
Your final payment will be agreed with Frontier during the application process. Common solutions are either via bank transfer or a cash payment at the project site.

Why book with Volunteer World

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Quality Assurance
High ethical standards & transparent social impact
Flex Option
Change your reservation at no extra costs
Refund Guarantee
We refund your fees if Frontier cancels your trip
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We cover your back no matter what happens
Our services are free of charge!
All program fees are charged directly by Frontier.

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  Americas Central America Belize  Turneffe Atoll, Caye Caulker

Conservation and Marine Ecology

Dive in some of the most pristine and renowned marine sites in the world, helping further the research and protection of these pristine ecosystems in Belize.

$1031/week

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