Belize: St. George's Caye Sea Turtle and Manatee Research

volunteer vacations
Help scientists gather needed data on endangered sea turtles and manatees in St. George's Caye, Belize.


St. George's Caye, Belize provides important habitat for endangered green, loggerhead, and hawksbill sea turtles and Antillean manatees. As a volunteer on this program you will work side-by-side with researchers from ECOMAR to conduct in-water sea turtle and manatee research surveys.

In-water surveys for sea turtles will be done by boat along shallow fore and patch reefs. With help from skilled local fishermen, sea turtles will be captured, measured, sampled, and tagged to help scientists track their movements and understand population dynamics.

We'll also record observations of manatees found along the reefs and seagrass beds of St. George's Caye and in the many channels that make up the Drowned Cayes. Belize is home to the largest population of endangered Antillean manatees in the world. The Antillean manatee (Trichechus manatus manatus) is an endangered subspecies of the West Indian Manatee; less than 2,500 mature individuals of this subspecies are thought to remain .

At the end of the program we will visit Hol Chan Marine Reserve to explore the shallow patch reefs and compare the fish abundance between reefs inside and outside of the reserve.

Belize Manatee in Mangrove

There will be some free time for beach snorkeling, swimming, and bird watching

Throughout the program, participants will stay at the St George's Caye Research Station & Field School run by ECOMAR, which offers basic but comfortable accommodations in double rooms or bunk rooms, with shared bathrooms (no hot water). Three meals are prepared daily; they feature local and international dishes and are served buffet style. The meals are so good that many visitors ask for the recipes to take home!

Oceanic Society's manatee research was recently featured by National GeographicHuffington Post, and Discovery News.


Day 1: Arrival
Transfer to St. George's Caye. After lunch, we will do a snorkel check-out at the nearby sand bar.

Days 2-4: Sea Turtle Research
Survey sea turtles by boat along the shallow reefs of St. George's Caye.

Day 5: Manatee Research
Survey manatees by boat along the reefs and in the channels of the Drowned Cayes.

Day 6: Sea Turtle Research
Survey sea turtles by boat along the shallow reefs of St. George's Caye. 

Day 7: Hol Chan Marine Reserve
Visit Hol Chan Marine Reserve and snorkel shallow reefs, comparing fish abundance inside and outside of the reserve.

Day 8: Departure
Return home 

Optional Extensions:


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Upcoming Trips:

click on each trip for more information
Feb 21, 2015
Mar 21, 2015
May 9, 2015

Trip Cost:

From $2,200 / person