Marine Life Conservation Assistant

High­lights Require­ments What's Included Dates & Fees Rev­iews
Non-profit
·
founded in 2006
ReefCI
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Coordinator | Anthony
Coordinator | Anthony

High­lights

Get hands-on experience in marine conservation work and gain real world insight on what it is like to actually work in the field of marine conservation
Volunteer on a remote private Caribbean island, a real castaway island located directly on the Belize Barrier Reef
Protect the reef ecosystem by directly participating in our ongoing marine conservation projects and learn all about coral reefs and marine life
Learn to dive or further your dive qualifications; everyone contributes regardless of your experience
Have an adventure, make new international friends, and give back to a cause you believe in while having lots of fun!
Gain real insight into marine conservation work and methodologies through hands-on conservation training and work experience, while also having lots of fun! This volunteer program is especially suitable for:
Age 16+
Singles
Couples
Groups

Reef Conservation International is a fantastic way to experience real world conservation efforts, while having great fun!  You will get hands-on experience for marine conservation work and gain real world insight on what it is like to actually work in the field of marine conservation.  You can even shadow our two Marine Biologists while with us and soak up as much from them as possible.  It would be a great learning experience for you and help inform you on your possible career choices.

The only real difference between our regular volunteers and our long term (internship) volunteers is the length of time you stay with us. Typically, we find our long-term volunteers/interns tend to be one of three types:  

  1. Gap year students interested in a marine biology career
  2. College students majoring in the field of marine biology taking off a semester or two to get hands-on experience to bolster their resume   
  3. Working professionals who are exploring other career options like marine biology or possibly working as a professional diver

What Will I Be Doing?

We have different projects we run that are all under the same umbrella/program and a part of what we do at Reef Conservation International.  Hence, each day will differ but you will be helping in the following areas:

  • Lionfish population monitoring and control (spearing and dissecting lionfish)
  • Queen Conch surveys
  • Lobster surveys
  • Commercial fish surveys
  • Reef health surveys – ReefCI check & Coral watch
  • Whale shark monitoring (if spotted)
  • Coral reef bleaching and bio-diversity dives

Depending on the season and ocean conditions you might not take part in all of these activities above but it is a good bet that you will experience most of them :)

Dive Certifications and Courses Offered on the Island

Our volunteer trips are for both non-experienced and experienced divers.  Not certified?  No worries, many of our volunteers come to the island to learn to dive.  Looking to further your dive credentials?  Many of our volunteers come to our island to further their diving certification status. Regardless of your diving level, our island is a wonderful place to learn with calm, clear waters and little current.  We swap the cold swimming pool for the Caribbean Sea and the classroom for a hammock under a palm tree! 

We have many dive courses available to help you develop your scuba and marine conservation skills while on the island volunteering with us.  Below is the price our program charges for each PADI certification course and how long it will take you to complete the certification course on the island.

PADI Certification Courses Offered on the Island

  • PADI Open Water Certification – $150 USD (3 days)
  • PADI Advanced Open Water Certification – $200 USD (1 week)
  • PADI Rescue Diver Certification – $250 USD (1 week)
  • PADI Dive Master Certification – $400 USD (4 week minimum stay)

PADI Specialty Certification Courses Offered on the Island

  • PADI Specialty Course:  Invasive Lionfish – $100 USD (2 days) 
  • PADI Specialty Course:  Coral Reef Conservation – $100 USD (2 days)
  • PADI Specialty Course: Fish Identification – $100 USD (2 days)
  • PADI Specialty Course: Deep Diver – $100 USD (3 days)
  • PADI Specialty Course: Emergency First Response  – $100 USD (2 days) 
  •  PADI Specialty Course: Underwater Photographer  – $175 USD (2 days)

*Please Note:  The PADI Open Water, Advanced, Rescue, Dive Master, and Underwater Photographer require the PADI eLearning prior to arrival.  All other courses do NOT require the PADI eLearning prior to arrival.  You must be a fully certified Open Water diver before taking any PADI Specialty Courses


In order to be certified on the island, you will need to complete the PADI eLearning portion of your course (Open Water, Advanced, Rescue, Underwater Photographer, or Divemaster) prior to your arrival to our island. PADI is the world’s leading scuba diver training organization that governs and regulates scuba standards and diver certifications. You can get started immediately with the classroom portion of your certification course and work at your own pace using the PADI eLearning system at home. With this convenient online study option, you will complete the classroom/theory portion and theory exam of your course before your arrival to the island.  At the end of the eLearning program, you must print out your eRecord and bring a copy of it with you to the island. Once on the island, we will finish off the appropriate in-water diver portion of the course. PADI charges around $185 USD for the eLearning and the cost is paid to PADI via their website.  We find our guests like to avoid the book work and theory portion of certification courses while on the island and this provides the best option to get in the water immediately upon arrival to our island.  

Typical day

One can volunteer anywhere from 1 week to 12 weeks with us on the island.  Below is a typical 4 week schedule of what to expect. 

Week 1:  Primary Focus:  Diving Skills and PADI Certifications

  • Introduction and orientation
  • PADI dive course certifications
  • Marine conservation methodologies and techniques
  • Fun dives!
  • For those already certified, we begin with our conservation programs immediately 

Week 2:   Primary Focus:  Invasive Species

  • Invasive species overview and threats
  • Lionfish spearfishing dives
  • Lionfish dissection, analysis of stomach contents, preparation and cooking
  • Lionfish spearing derby
  • Beach clean up

Week 3:   Primary Focus: Reef Ecosystems and Marine Identification

  • Coral identification, fish identification, invertebrates identification, coral bleaching and disease identification
  • Comprehensive study and analysis of data
  • Survey dives
  • Fun dives!

Week 4:   Primary Focus: Marine Conservation Surveys

  • Coral monitoring
  • Commercial fish species, lobster, and queen conch surveys
  • Whale Shark surveys if spotted
  •   PADI Specialty Course certifications
  • Beach clean up

Potential Additional Activities:

PADI certification courses and specialty courses 

*The above itinerary and activities are subject to availability and weather conditions.

Free-time activities

Our volunteers can choose how much they wish to get involved.  Some people want to do as much conservation diving and learning as possible, while others wish to combine the conservation dives with relaxation and fun dives.  All dives are voluntary so you can choose to relax in our hammocks with a good book, fish from the island, or do a bit of sea kayaking/stand up paddle boarding or immerse yourself in conservation volunteering. The choice is yours!  

We have lots to offer on the island when not diving!

  • Stand Up Paddle Boarding
  • Kayaking
  • Snorkeling
  • Fishing from the island
  • Conservation help (dissections, data collection)
  • Volleyball
  • Badminton
  • Great food
  • Further your dive course training with us!
  • Lots of hammock time!!
Depending how long your stay with us is, the weekends back on the mainland are yours to explore. Besides the incredible diving and conservation experience you will have with us Monday-Friday on our island, Belize has so much to explore on the mainland where you will be on the weekend! From ancient ruins, jungles and nature expeditions, spelunking, repelling, ziplining, cave and river tubing, to cultural tours; there is something for everyone.  You are guaranteed a trip of a lifetime in Belize!  

Water Sports
Swimming
Diving/
Snorkling
Sports

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 (basic level)
Required Documents
Our digital/online scuba diving waivers will be sent to you upon registration.
Nationality Restrictions
No restrictions. Helping hands from all over the world are welcome.
Other Skills
Volunteering with ReefCI is a great way to get an insider’s view about the issues facing marine ecosystems and do your part to help the cause. Anyone can volunteer. Everyone can make a difference regardless of skill and ability. No experience is necessary, just a desire to be the change you wish to see in the world!
Time Commitment
Your helping hand will be required on Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday and Friday

What's Included

Services by ReefCI

What Is Included?

  • 5 days/4 nights on private island in the Caribbean off the coast of Belize
  • 3 meals daily during dive week
  • 12-13 dives per week
  • At least one night dive a week
  • Training for conservation work and participation in our programs
  • Island boat transfers to and from island
  • All diving equipment (excluding wetsuit, booties, dive mask)
  • Accommodations while on the island

What is Not Included?

  • Flights to Placencia, Belize
  • Wetsuit, booties, dive masks
  • Optional PADI certification courses you would like to take while on the island 
  • Sapodilla Caye Marine Park Fees: 25 USD per week
  • Alcohol and soda/pop while on the island (2-5 USD per drink) 

Accommodation

We are located on a beautiful, idyllic remote private island that is part of the Sapodilla Cayes Marine Reserve Park, located in southern Belize about an hour boat ride from the mainland. Our island, Tom Owens Caye, is a true ‘castaway’ coral caye island located directly on the Belize Barrier Reef.  The island is about 1½ acres and has a large living area, great views and lots of hammock space. All of our volunteers upon arrival tell us that the photos do not do the island justice! It really is a perfect Caribbean paradise. 

Accommodations are basic but clean and comfortable. The location is however 5 star!!!  Quirky, stone, individual cabanas surround the island. Every cabana has incredible views of the Caribbean!  Imagine waking up to the sound of waves lapping against the shore and a spectacular Belizean sunrise!  During the week your accommodation will be on the island where you will stay in either the main house cabana or a beach side cabana. In the main lodge there are double rooms suitable for couples, twin rooms and family rooms suitable for groups of friends or families. The cabana bathroom facilities are shared. There is a friendly communal area with colorful underwater murals on the walls. The dining room overlooks the ocean and the food is plentiful and delicious! There are plenty of hammocks around the island to relax in. 

A generator is kept in its own room to reduce noise pollution. It is run all night on the island allowing guests to charge their laptops, iPhones, iPods and cameras etc. and use a fan if the sea breeze is not enough. This generator is turned on in the evening so during the day electricity is limited. Internet is available during the mornings, evenings and often between dives.

Bedroom (Single) Bungalow Bedroom (Double)
Food & Beverages

We Are Known For Our Great Food! 

We provide 3 meals a day plus an early morning snack and a mid-afternoon or late evening snack everyday while on the island.

Sample Island Menu: 

  • Early Morning:  Fresh fruit, tea, coffee and biscuits. 
  • Breakfast:  Fried jacks, sausages, scrambled eggs and refried beans or banana pancakes with ham and eggs.
  • Lunch:  Island chicken salad or chicken and veggie quesadilla’s or fresh fish burritos.
  • Dinner:  Lionfish fingers with cilantro, homemade garlic tartar sauce served with fresh salad and coconut rice or chicken curry with okra and yellow ginger rice or bbq whole fish with garlic mash and mixed veggies, or garlic lobster with cilantro mash and garlic zucchini.
  • Dessert:  Coconut tart or pineapple up-side-down cake or chocolate rum cake with a rum butter sauce.

Vegetarian, Vegan, Food Allergery?  All Dietary Needs Fully Catered For! 

All dietary requirements are catered for (food allergies, vegan, vegetarian, no seafood, dairy, tree nuts etc).   No worries - we have vegans, vegetarians, pescatarians, gluten free eaters, diabetics, and nut allergy volunteers that come to the island every year.  Our chef is quite accustomed to meeting the needs of our volunteers. Don't worry, we will make sure your dietary needs are met : )  However, it is always a good idea to bring special food and snacks that you like. 

All meals and drinking water/juices are provided for you while you are at the island. There is an honesty book system on the island, which has a small selection of sodas, beers, and rum drinks available at an additional cost. 

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. An airport pickup isn't included within the program fees either.
Flight Tickets
The nearest airport is Placencia (PLJ) in Placencia. 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

Our conservation dive trips are Monday thru Friday – we depart for our island at 9:30am on Monday from Placencia, Belize and return to the mainland (Placencia) on Friday anywhere from 11am-1pm depending on ocean navigability. Volunteers must schedule arrival and departure in and out of Placencia, Belize either on a Saturday or Sunday. 

Weekend Accommodations

All volunteers will need to book a hotel or hostel in Placencia upon their arrival and departure on a Saturday or Sunday. Those staying multiple weeks will need weekend accommodations on the mainland Friday night thru Sunday night in between their weeks with us on the island.  So with ReefCI you get the best of both worlds. An amazing marine conservation volunteering experience Monday thru Friday on a private Caribbean island on the Belize Barrier Reef and the weekends on the mainland exploring all Belize has to offer.  From ancient ruins, jungles and nature expeditions, spelunking, repelling, ziplining, cave and river tubing, to cultural tours; there is something for everyone on the weekends.  You are guaranteed a trip of a lifetime in Belize! 

Flights to Placencia, Belize

All volunteers will fly into Belize’s only international airport - Belize International Airport (BZE) which is located in Belize City.  From there, you will make a connection flight to Placencia, Belize via a small hopper plane.  The short hopper flights typically provide around 9 daily flights on the weekends to and from Belize International Airport and Placencia.  There are two airline companies that operate hopper flights in Belize. Tropic Air and Maya Island Air –google them to search flight times and prices.  All volunteers must schedule arrival and departure on a Saturday or Sunday.   We will depart for the island on Monday from Placencia, Belize at 9:30am and return on Friday to Placencia anywhere from 11am-1pm. 

Availability
Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec
Duration
1 - 12 weeks

Program fees

Costs: Prices in USD
1 week (min. stay)
$ 888
2 weeks
$ 1,776
3 weeks
$ 2,665
4 weeks
$ 3,553
5 weeks
$ 4,441
6 weeks
$ 5,329
7 weeks
$ 6,218
8 weeks
$ 7,106
9 weeks
$ 7,994
10 weeks
$ 8,882
11 weeks
$ 9,770
12 weeks (max. stay)
$ 10,658
Average fees
$ 888 /week

Please note that the above shown program fees are estimated and subject to exchange rate fluctuations. ReefCI 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 ReefCI during the application process. Common solutions are either via bank transfer or a cash payment at the project site.

Why book with Volunteer World

Extra security layer by Volunteer World
Volunteer World is the world's leading comparison platform for international volunteer opportunities. We guide you through a safe and easy application process - including all necessary payments. Planning your next meaningful trip with Volunteer World gives you free access to our:
Quality Assurance
High ethical standards & transparent social impact
Flex Option
Change your reservation at no extra costs
Refund Guarantee
We refund your fees if ReefCI cancels your trip
Support & Mediation
We cover your back no matter what happens
Our services are free of charge!
All program fees are charged directly by ReefCI.

What are people saying about Volunteer World?

  Americas Central America Belize  Placencia, Placencia, Stann Creek District

Marine Life Conservation Assistant

Gain real insight into marine conservation work and methodologies through hands-on conservation training and work experience, while also having lots of fun!

$888/week

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Availability
Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec

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