Shark and Ray Conservation in Belize

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Belize’s barrier reef is a great habitat for sharks but sharks have been fished for decades and there are signs that they are now depleted. Join this one-of-a-kind study to help researchers collect data on the integral role sharks and rays play within their ecosystems and the best way to conserve them.

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About the Trip

Join this one-of-a-kind study to help researchers collect data on the integral role sharks and rays play within their ecosystems and the best way to conserve them!

Belize’s barrier reef is a great habitat for sharks but sharks have been fished for decades and there are signs that they are now depleted. Like many shark fishing nations, Belize has too many shark fishers and not enough data to develop a management plan. Earthwatch is teaming up with Mote Marine Laboratory Aquarium and a team of Belize shark fishers to address both these issues. This team up will employ the fishers to collect data with the scientists, all to better manage sharks and create effective protected areas for them. The project provides a new livelihood for fishers- research fishing- that directly reduces fishing pressure on these ocean predators.

With help from Earthwatchers, Dr. Demian Chapman and his team have already accomplished a lot for the sharks and rays of Belize. They’ve teamed up with fishermen and the government to strengthen shark fishing regulations (shark fins are a prized soup ingredient in some parts of the world), secured protected status for all rays nationwide, and helped increase and improve protected areas for sharks. In June 2021, the government announced new shark protected areas totaling over 1,500 square miles, primarily based on data from this project and including our primary study site, Glover’s Reef atoll.

These wins have taken their research into an exciting new phase. Join in groundbreaking efforts to monitor shark and ray populations in and around the new protected areas, working with shark fishermen employed to tag sharks instead of landing them! Your participation will provide key scientific information need for conservation and it will also directly save thousands of sharks every year by providing an alternative livelihood for shark fishers. Teams will also help track the species of sharks that fisherman catch using fin samples, and will also document the species of rays that populate the waters. Your work will help protect the coral reefs of Belize and the captivating predators that call them home.

From a boat under the Caribbean sky, your team will deploy baited remote underwater video stations (BRUVS) to learn what’s happening in the water. Teams will catch sharks and rays and apply tags that will allow researchers to track their movements in relation to protected area boundaries– a critical part of assessing how well the protected areas are working. Help save some of the world’s most fascinating creatures, while visiting some of the most beautiful reefs on Earth.

NOTE: Field conditions and research needs can lead to changes in the itinerary and activities. We appreciate your cooperation and understanding.

This Destination is hosted by Girl Scouts of the USA in collaboration with Earthwatch Institute. The group leaders are Girl Scouts National Volunteers, and the program will be delivered by Earthwatch. Read more about this program on the Earthwatch website.

Where You Go

Belize

What to Know

To participate on this Destination, you must:

  • endure tropic (hot and humid) work conditions
  • enjoy being outdoors ALL DAY in all types of weather, in the potential presence of insects and wildlife
  • be able to get along with people of different backgrounds in close proximity
  • be comfortable being surrounded by a language and/or culture that is not your own
  • work on a boat for approximately 4-5 hours per day with limited break options (e.g., there is no bathroom on the boat, except for the ocean or the islands where we will stop)
  • Maintain a seated, upright position within the boat during transit, which can sometimes be bumpy. This can be uncomfortable for individuals with back problems.

The Dates

July 2022 (Exact dates TBD)

You must be at least 15 years old at the time of this Destination.

What to Bring

A complete packing list will be provided upon acceptance.

The Cost

Program Fee: $3,395. Program Fee does not include airfare. Our group will be meeting in WHERE, and flying together to WHERE (ground transportation from WHERE provided to WHERE). Specific flight information will be provided after acceptance.

Download Application Forms
Destinations Application Worksheet
Contact Information

destinations@girlscouts.org