Belize: Coral Reef Monitoring (Snorkeling)

Work side-by-side with researchers to monitor the health of Turneffe Atoll's diverse coral reefs.


Aerial view of Blackbird Caye, Turneffe Atoll.Volunteer on this week-long program, and work side-by-side with our researchers to collect data on Belize's outstanding coral reefs. Participants stay at our Blackbird Caye Field Station on the eastern edge of Turneffe Atoll and make daily excursions to conduct reef monitoring. Only snorkeling experience is necessary - participants are trained in research methods and use of equipment.

Belize boasts the largest and most biologically diverse barrier reef in the Western Hemisphere. It is part of the larger Mesoamerican Reef ecosystem which has been classified as a Hope Spot and been the subject of recent coverage by National Geographic Magazine for its exceptional biodiversity.

Belize's reefs are still relatively healthy, yet the worldwide decline of reef ecosystems is of utmost concern. Our research aims to monitor reefs around Turneffe Atoll to detect changes in reef health and inform marine management efforts. 

Volunteer monitoring coral reef.

Oceanic Society, in cooperation with the Belize Coastal Zone Management Authority and Belize Fisheries, has initiated a coral reef monitoring plan to collect basic ecological data on reef and seagrass habitats. Our goal is to answer questions related to coral reef community population, structure, health and viability over time. In addition, participants will study population dynamics of ecologically important reef fish and long-spined sea urchins. Sampling techniques require no specialized equipment such as scuba, and have relatively little lasting impact on local habitats.

As a volunteer in this 8-day program, you will assist the coral reef researcher in performing shallow water coral reef transects for a quantitative measure of reef resources. Following defined transect lines, volunteers swim the area to record specific fish types known as bioindicator species. Only snorkeling skills are needed to participate; you can choose from multiple tasks and will be trained in the use of equipment and in sampling techniques.

Participants stay at the Oceanic Society field station on Blackbird Caye. Accommodations are in rustic beachfront cabanas that offer double occupancy rooms with private baths.

Contact our office to learn more or to register for this program!


Day 1:
U.S./Belize City/Blackbird Caye Arrive in Belize City for a 90-minute boat transfer to Blackbird Caye. Evening trip briefing and welcome dinner. Spend seven nights in comfortable beachfront cabanas.

Day 2:
Blackbird Caye. Research training session in the morning with a snorkel check-out off the dock and a snorkel trip to a nearby shallow reef sites. The reef sites are in the warm waters within the atoll.

Day 3 thru 7:
Each morning and/or afternoon, under the direction of the researcher, there will be boat surveys to nearby coral reefs to gather data about water quality, reef inhabitants and indicators of reef health.

Snorkeling opportunities are excellent in the clear warm waters, and some free time will be provided for snorkeling right from the beach.

There will be evening presentations on the research project, the natural history of reef inhabitants, and marine ecosystems. In addition, preparations will be made for the following days' activities.

Day 8:
Blackbird Caye/Belize City/U.S. Early morning boat transfer back to Belize City in time to transfer to the airport for your flight back to the U.S.

Optional Extensions:


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Upcoming Trips:

click on each trip for more information
May 17, 2014
May 29, 2014
Jul 29, 2014
Aug 5, 2014

Trip Cost:

$2,275 / person