Belize: Belize City, Caye Caulker
21 day programs in June, July or AugustDescription
Dolphins are extraordinary...intelligent, playful, social and complex. Learn about these amazing marine mammals up close as you track them through the beautiful offshore cayes of Belize. Scuba dive and snorkel on Belize's world famous reefs alongside expert researchers who guide you in observing dolphins in their natural habitats. Contribute to ongoing research as you learn to identify individual dolphins, analyze their behavior and gather data about their threatened environments. Belize is the ideal place to study wild bottlenose dolphins because they are drawn to its varied habitats of sea grass beds, mangroves and coral reefs. Our host, The Oceanic Society, has spent years identifying dolphin hot spots and cataloging local resident populations. Your contributions to their research will help them protect these great creatures and create a marine sanctuary to preserve the treasured waters of Belize.
We start our adventure on picturesque Caye Caulker, which lies just off Belize's barrier reef, the largest in the Western Hemisphere. Our sea kayaks provide a great vantage point for exploring the island's natural habitat. Watch in awe as magnificent frigates and brown pelicans soar past your kayaks. Get up close and personal with the creatures that inhabit the mangroves and sea grass beds, including bat fish, yellow rays and sea horses. Initial group discussions focus on the history and ecological wonders of Belize, as well as the nature of the marine environment that surrounds us. Put on your mask and fins and slip into the turquoise blue water to cool off and explore the underwater world. Sharpen your scuba skills or complete your PADI Scuba Certification at incredible sites like Grouper Hole, Black Beauty and Hol Chan Canyons.
Travel by boat to Blackbird Caye and settle into beachfront cabanas at the Oceanic Society's Belize Field Station. Resident researchers teach us about dolphin physiology and behavior, as well as ongoing conservation efforts to protect these majestic creatures and their ocean home. Learn to use equipment that measures environmental variables in dolphin habitats. Head out in small groups on skiffs to some of the local dolphin hot spots. Experience what field work is really all about... Once you spot dolphins, the data collection begins. "Quick, take photos! Log the GPS coordinates. Which behaviors are they exhibiting?"
Snorkel and dive to explore some of the Caribbean's best reefs. Swim alongside rock beauties, queen triggerfish and midnight parrotfish, and watch them cruise through mazes of vibrant coral heads and tube sponges on the Turneffe Atoll. Spotted eagle rays, morays, nurse sharks and hawksbill turtles await your discovery on Calabash Wall. Back on land, strike up a game of beach volleyball. As night sets in, watch for the loggerhead turtles that return to Blackbird Caye every summer to lay eggs on the beach.
Take a break from dolphin research to explore a World Heritage site, Lighthouse Atoll. Snorkel the Blue Hole, an awe-inspiring geological wonder, and practice free diving within its shallows. On nearby Half Moon Caye, help the Belize Audubon Society with ongoing conservation projects. Camp under the stars and fall asleep to the sound of waves lapping on the shore. When dawn comes, witness a spectacular sunrise as you're awakened by the sounds of 4,000 red-footed booby birds.
Ready to take your dolphin education mobile? Hop aboard our traditional Belizean sailboat, and watch for dolphins and other marine life as you sail and snorkel along the barrier reef and beautiful, uninhabited cayes. Camp on tranquil, white sand beaches and enjoy the fish or lobster you caught earlier for dinner. Discuss the laws behind dolphin research and what you can do to help. Your classroom is a bunch of Crazy Creeks lined up along clear blue water beneath swaying palm trees. Paradise! We finish our adventure with unforgettable memories, a hands-on understanding of dolphin ecology and the knowledge that the data we have gathered will help researchers protect these remarkable creatures.
* Learn about Dolphin Natural History, Habitats, Biology and Behavior
* Collect Data for Ongoing Research Projects
* Scuba Dive on Vibrant Reefs and Snorkel the Blue Hole
* Sailing, Snorkeling and Sea Kayaking
* High School/College Credit; 12+ Hours Community Service
Type of Programs
Community Service / Volunteerism
High School Study Abroad
Cost in US$:
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This Program is open to
Independently or in Groups
Typically Participants Work
in Groups of 10-12
Typically The Application Process Time is
Year Founded: 1993 LINK