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Shark Conservation in Belize

Participate in shark research along the Belize Barrier Reef

Pricing From: $2,795 USD per person

Duration: 8 days

Operator: Earthwatch Institute

Join the research team in Belize and you’ll join a decade-long research project comparing shark and grouper populations at Southwater Caye, a new marine reserve, Glover’s Reef Atoll, a well established reserve, and at Turneffe Atoll.

The data you help collect will demonstrate whether and how reserves actually help protect shark and other marine species.

ITINERARY

Research Summary

You’ll assist with the deployment, recovery, and maintenance of hook-and-line shark fishing gear in various locations at the Glover’s Reef study site. You will also help measure water quality, salinity, and pH. You can help the researchers tag sharks, take tissue samples, and release captured sharks.

All sharks are firmly secured to the side of the research vessel and are kept in the water for the full procedure. Securing and final release of the animal will be carried out by experienced staff.

You’ll also help collect shark tissue samples within different habitats, from fishermen’s catches, and from handline fishing and seine-netting. You will also conduct snorkel surveys to record abundance and diversity of coral and fish species. 

You’ll have the opportunity to interact with tourists and Belizeans to help assess their attitudes toward sharks, reefs, and marine reserve. This involves helping produce, distribute, and score written questionnaires. 

Although Belize has 13 marine protected areas, not all of them include no-take marine reserves and several of them still allow fishing for sharks inside or near their borders. Showing whether marine reserves in Belize support shark conservation will help existing marine reserve network and improve it over time.

About the Research Area

Belize is a beautiful tropical country and a world biodiversity hotspot. During field the temperatures range from 90-100°F during the day. Belizeans are ethnically diverse, with Hispanic, Mayan, Creole, and Garifuna cultures. English is the primary language and Christianity is the main religion.

The expedition will be immersed in local culture even when not conducting research, as the research staff assistants and the field station staff are largely Belizean.

During the course of your volunteering, you’re likely to see a wide range of wildlife including sea turtles, dolphins, osprey, iguana, frigate birds, stingrays, spotted eagle rays, small reef fish, tarpon, bonefish, and coral. Glover's Reef offers guided nature tours, bird watching and kayaking for your recreational time.

Accommodations

You’ll spend the first night at Southwater Caye in dormitory-style accommodations. All other nights will be at Glover’s Reef Research Station, in rooms shared by two volunteers. With advance notice, couples may share rooms at Glover’s Reef.

All bedding is provided and all rooms have fans. Both field sites offer reliable electricity, wireless internet, shared bathrooms with composting toilets and cold, freshwater showers. Warm water solar showers are also available.

Cuisine

A cook prepares all meals onsite. Customary Belizean breakfasts might consist of fruit, fry jack, journey cake or pancake and Lunches and dinners of pasta, fish, meats, beans and rice, salads, and cooked vegetables. With advanced notification, we’ll do everything we can to accommodate special dietary requirements. There are no stores on the atoll, and no alcohol is allowed at the field station.

Prices & Dates

Dates: January & June - July

Duration: 8 days

Difficulty: Moderate

Pricing From: $2,795 USD per person

Price Notes: Contributions are tax deductible.

Included: Your minimum contribution covers the most basic research costs, such as room and board, research permits, basic scientific equipment, on-site staff, carbon offsets, basic insurance, and more.

Excluded: The contribution does not cover your travel to the rendezvous site. Airfares are not covered by your contribution (for US residents, these expenses may be tax deductible). Additional costs may include passports, visas, airport taxes, and the costs of side trips made before or after the expedition or on free days. Some expeditions have additional in-country travel costs to reach the research site.

Conservation

Benefitting Organization:

Toledo Institute for Development & Environment (TIDE): Established in 1997, TIDE's mission is to foster community participation in resource management and sustainable use of ecosystems within the Maya Mountain Marine Corridor of southern Belize for the benefit of present and future generations.

By booking this trip through SEEtheWILD, we will make a donation of $130 to TIDE for their marine conservation efforts. In addition, more than half the contribution of Earthwatch expeditions go directly to research and conservation efforts and the volunteer support is critical to their success.

Featured Animals: Hammerhead

Images

Releasing a newly tagged nurse shark
© Duncan Brake & Jillian Morris / Earthwatch Institute
Volunteer conducting underwater research with Earthwatch
© Duncan Brake & Jillian Morris / Earthwatch Institute
Observing a nurse shark in Belize
© Duncan Brake & Jillian Morris / Earthwatch Institute
Hammerhead sharks are one of several species living in Belize
© Terry Goss 2008-Marine Photobank

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All of our trips & volunteer expeditions:

  • Directly support wildlife conservation
  • Educate travelers about wildlife
  • Support local communities
  • Reduce environmental impact

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