Belize Conservation in Action
Oceans and Underwater Exploration
- Snorkel or SCUBA dive on the world’s second-largest barrier reef.
- Work with biologists to survey marine species.
- Learn underwater photography while exploring the world-famous Blue Hole.
Marine Biologist David Gruber will join the July 5 and July 12 departures of the Belize conservation in action program on Blackbird Caye.
This expedition was specially crafted to involve students in ongoing conservation efforts with researchers in the field. More »
Itinerary 12 Days
Blanketed with thick jungle and edged by the largest barrier reef in the Western Hemisphere, Belize is a small country with extraordinary biodiversity and great natural beauty. Its rich marine life makes it a perfect laboratory for learning about our planet’s amazing ocean habitats and for exploring ways to preserve them for future generations. Join top marine biologists, scientists, and conservationists to conduct research on the barrier reef. Photograph underwater species, snorkel the famous Blue Hole, and learn about local ecotourism and conservation initiatives.
Tropical Education CenterDay 1. Our expedition begins with an orientation at a research station outside of Belize City, the Tropical Education Center. During a night tour of the world-famous Belize Zoo led by professional keepers, hand-feed the national animal of Belize, the tapir, and meet an orphaned jaguar known as Lucky Boy.
Days 2-7. Take a boat from the marina across the clear blue waters to Turneffe Atoll, where we’ll get settled at the Oceanic Society’s research facility on Blackbird Caye. Here, spend each day snorkeling in the warm coastal waters and assisting in the collection of data and the monitoring of reef health. Come face-to-face with countless species of marine life—from colorful parrotfish and damsel fish to eels, rays, and turtles. Join researchers to conduct a survey of the bottlenose dolphin population and assist with the removal and dissection of invasive lionfish. Participate in ongoing initiatives to protect dolphins, turtles, and reef sharks, and examine the threats to coral reefs around the planet.
Improve your underwater photography and video techniques during one-on-one lessons with our highly qualified trip leaders and experts, and learn to use photography as a storytelling tool to portray the integral role of our oceans and seas in maintaining the health of the planet. Begin work on group and individual projects designed to raise awareness about the critical need to protect and conserve our marine habitat. Then put your new marine biology and photography skills to the test during a full-day excursion to Lighthouse Reef, home of the world-famous Blue Hole, a remarkable circular limestone sinkhole in the seafloor stretching nearly 1,000 feet across and more than 400 feet deep. Made famous by Jacques Cousteau, this spectacular sunken cave is home to diverse marine life and jagged stalactites. In the evenings, unwind back on shore. Enjoy discussions with marine biologists, get to know your fellow travelers, and share fresh coconuts straight off the tree while watching the sun set over the thick Belizean jungle.
Days 8-12. Leave the outer reef and head north to Caye Caulker, one of the more developed cayes (pronounced keys). Spend time working with local students and participate in community service and environmental stewardship projects. Get out on the water with researchers working to preserve their fragile marine habitat, and learn firsthand how overfishing and reef destruction impact the local ecology and economy. Snorkel and dive among groupers, rays, and nurse sharks at Shark Ray Alley, part of the Hol Chan Marine Reserve on the southern tip of Ambergris Caye. Hol Chan was declared a marine reserve—the first in Belize—25 years ago, and has helped pave the road for marine protection throughout coastal Belize and the rest of the world. Spend a day kayaking around the shallow waterways, keeping an eye out for endangered manatees and sea turtles. Learn about the development of marine protected areas, and examine the role of ecotourism and local conservation efforts in reef preservation. Present your final project to community members and local experts.
While SCUBA diving is not the main focus of this trip, students who are certified will have the opportunity to participate in up to four dives, dependent on weather and conditions. The supplemental fee for diving is $300.