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Global Nomadic

Manatee Rehabilitation Internship

Orange Walk, Belize

Agency | Global Nomadic

Work closely with experienced biologists, veterinary and support staff. A hands-on experience rehabilitating wild Manatees, monitoring and observation and treatment.

The project

This project gives you the opportunity to rescue and rehabilitate manatees while educating local populations about the animals’ threatened existence. It also gives you the chance to get to know the diverse Belize culture, where English is the official language but Spanish, Creole, and an assortment of other languages are also widely spoken.

You will work with a Manatee Rehabilitation Centre (the only one in the Region) founded in 1998 to care for orphaned or injured manatees found in Belizean waters. It was here that Belize’s first rehabilitation of an orphaned manatee took place, and ‘Woody’ was successfully released back into the wild after more than 2 years of care. Volunteers played a critical role in Woody’s rehabilitation, and that of all of his successors, helping provide the 24-hour intensive care in the early days, and then sharing the duties of feeding and pool cleaning as he grew. With the assistance of grants from donor agencies the Centre’s facilities have been upgraded significantly. 

The location

The tiny Central American country of Belize punches well above its weight in terms of wildlife. Just offshore a large population of West Indian manatees make their home in the warm coastal waters, a habitat that forms an important part of the Mesoamerican Biological Corridor. These gentle herbivorous creatures live their entire lives (up to 50-60 years) in the water and have no natural predators, yet are all too often injured or orphaned by irresponsible fishing and boating accidents. 

Volunteer Work

Three concrete pools and a lagoon enclosure provide the space and housing options to suit the needs of manatee calves at various ages. The Centre generally has one or two manatees in care at any one time, but with increasing boat accidents, numbers needing such care are unfortunately likely to increase. You can help nurse these impressive creatures back into the wild while helping raise awareness in the Belizean community. Your tasks will include

  • Volunteering with wild manatees in Belize.
  • Working alongside experienced and passionate biologists, veterinarians and support staff.
  • Gaining valuable hands-on experience in wildlife conservation work.
  • Having the opportunity to divide your time at a nearby primate rescue and rehabilitation project.

Typical day

Work is shared among volunteers, and involves all aspects of manatee care. This includes 

  • food preparation of the milk replacement formula, 
  • bottle-feeding in the water, 
  • clean-up, 
  • support during transfer between pools, 
  • regular weighing, 
  • medical check-ups, etc. 

Carers also spend time working with the calf, providing companionship in the water in the early developmental stage, and monitoring behaviour. Other essential activities include emptying, cleaning, filling and maintenance of the pools to ensure a clean environment for the calf or calves.

As the manatee grows older, it is led out into the open lagoon to be taught how to find and eat sea grass and learn the many other skills needed for life back in the wild. As these skills are acquired, and care becomes more hands-off in the approach to release, there are also public awareness activities that you can get involved with, increasing interest and knowledge among locals towards support for conservation of this threatened species. This includes visits to schools in the idyllic local fishing community, one of the stakeholder communities of Corozal Bay Wildlife Sanctuary, established by the Government of Belize for the protection of the West Indian Manatee.

You may also be asked to help respond to calf strandings, should they occur elsewhere in Belize whilst you are stationed with the Rehabilitation Centre – which may involve helping release calves accidentally caught in fish-traps, or capture of injured or orphaned calves in need of rehabilitation.


Details on Arrival

Project is ongoing, and you can join at any time, depending upon availability.

Free-time activities

There are lots of amazing things to do nearby, such as 

  • visiting surrounding islands, 
  • scuba diving, 
  • animal spotting etc. 

Belize is an incredible place to spend time, and you are free to explore it during your free time with your fellow volunteers.

Water Sports
Swimming
Diving/Snorkling
Climbing
Hiking
Yoga/Meditation

Program Requirements

In order to join the program you need to be at least 18 years old on the program start date. There might be exemptions if you can provide the permission of your legal guardian(s).
Language Skills
You need to speak English (basic level)
Health Declaration
required
Nationality Restrictions
No restrictions. Helping hands from all over the world are welcome.
Other Skills
Enthusiasm and interest in working with Manatees and their conservation
Basic English
Full travel & medical insurance
Necessary vaccinations
Necessary flights & visas
Time Commitment
Your helping hand will be required on Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday and Friday

Suitable for

Singles
Couples
Groups
50+

Any questions? Just ask. We at Global Nomadic are happy to help you.

Contact Project Coordinator
Contact & Reservation
Jan
Feb
Mar
Apr
May
Jun
Jul
Aug
Sep
Oct
Nov
Dec

Included Services

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Our services are free of charge!
All program fees are charged directly by Global Nomadic.
Services by Global Nomadic

Programme fee includes 

  • all food
  • accommodation
  • in-country support 
  • project activities
  • transport from the local town to the project HQ
There is no airport pickup included but you will be given easy to follow instructions on how to get from Belize City International Airport, to the project HQ. You will be met at the bus station, port or local airstrip by the project coordinator.

Accommodation
Accommodation is basic, with shared thatched, screened cabanas (sorry – no air conditioning or fans!), with adjoining bathrooms. However, there is generally a breeze coming off the lagoon and temperatures are lower than further inland. 
Dorm Room
Food & Beverages
Food preparation and consumption are both social occasions with everyone contributing towards cooking and washing up. Both vegetarians and non-vegetarians are welcome.
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 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.
Costs (Prices in USD)
4 weeks (min. stay)
$850.00
8 weeks
$1,400.00
12 weeks
$1,950.00
50 weeks (max. stay)
$6,325.00
Average fees
$170.00/week

You can volunteer at the project site in Orange Walk/Belize between 4 weeks and 50 weeks. Please note that the above shown program fees are estimated and subject to exchange rate fluctuations. Global Nomadic will let you know about the final price during your application process.
Crowdfunding Service
Generally, volunteering abroad involves certain costs. In case you need financial support, we will assist you to fundraise your volunteer program in Belize.
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 Global Nomadic during the application process. Common solutions are either via bank transfer or a cash payment at the project site.
Americas Central America Belize Orange Walk, Sarteneja Street
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