A chance to volunteer time and skills controlling invasive Lionfish on a remote palm-studded island? Sign us up! You’ll meet volunteers from all over the world as you patrol the Bacalar Chico Marine Reserve - a UNESCO World Heritage Site. The program is run by Blue Ventures and is the winner of “Outstanding Volunteer Project” in the Global Youth Awards and named “50 Tours of a Lifetime” by National Geographic
Blue Ventures has been working with coastal communities since 2003, developing locally-led approaches to marine management that benefit people and nature alike. The award winning marine conservation NGO began working in Belize in 2010, conducting coral reef monitoring and research in the Bacalar Chico Marine Reserve.
Dives must have a PADI Advanced Open Water (or equivalent) certification. You’ll be using your dive skills to hunt and survey Lionfish.
The trip starts and finishes over the weekend to enable people with work commitments or limited availability to join and make a contribution.
The science training you will receive from the field scientists means you are not required to have any previous experience in the marine sciences.
Typically, there will be mixed age groups, of people from all walks of life!
- Arrival to San Pedro:
- meet Blue Ventures expedition staff and the rest of your expedition group
- transfer by boat to the dive camp within the Bacalar Chico Marine Reserve.
- welcome sessions, inductions and health and safety briefings.
- settle into your accommodation and life at camp!
DAY 2 to 8
The team will ensure you know how to implement safe, environmentally-sound methods. When you are ready to go, you will dive with the aim of hunting and removing Lionfish from the reefs.
Introduction to Caribbean reef ecology with the team of field scientists:
- identification of fish species found in the reserve
- detailed training on Lionfish behavior and detection practices
- Lionfish competitors and prey
- survey training
- training in spear handling and hunting, on both shallow and deeper dives
Swim test, scuba-tune up course
Diving, hunting, and removing Lionfish from the reef:
- every fish caught will be measured and dissected.
- the data collected is used to monitor the Lionfish, population, diet, and reproductive rates, as well as to test hypotheses on specific impacts and recommendations for management.
- Transfer back to San Pedro:
- After breakfast, everyone will join the boat transfer back to San Pedro and be able to continue onward travel plans.
- Depart Belize on an afternoon flight, or the following day.
- Accommodation in beachfront eco-cabins
- Three prepared meals per day, including tea and coffee at breakfast and lunch
- Transfers between San Pedro and the dive camp at Bacalar Chico
- Science training with a team of field scientists and researchers
- PADI Scuba tune-up course with dive instructor on arrival
- Daily scuba dives
- Use of scuba diving equipment, including buoyancy control devices (BCDs), regulators, weights and cylinders
- Comprehensive logistical support and pastoral care from permanent field staff
- Health and safety briefings and support from our expedition medics and dive managers
- Pre-departure support from the UK-based headquarters
What’s not included?
- International flights (the nearest international airports are Belize City and Cancun in Mexico)
- Domestic travel to San Pedro: there is a regular water taxi from Belize City as well as internal flights
- Entry visa for Belize and any visa extensions
- Any medications or vaccinations that you require
- Travel and dive insurance
- Personal diving equipment: wetsuit, mask, snorkel, fins, watch or dive computer, delayed surface marker buoy, dive torch and underwater slate – you will be provided detailed guidance on what you need to buy for your expedition
- Personal field equipment: for instance a sleeping bag and torch
- Spending money for drinks, snacks and souvenirs
- Hotel accommodation before and after the expedition dates