Contribution starting at $3,550
Exported from Streamline App (https://app.streamlineicons.com)
8 days (avg. $444 a day) Includes accommodations, food, and all related research costs
Ocean Health

Shark Conservation in Belize

Location
Riversdale, Belize Map it
Lead Scientist
Activity Level
Moderate
Accommodations
Wilderness Camp/Dorm
Food
Shared meals
Several people are working on a boat measuring a sharpnose shark that was captured on a coastal longline survey.  |. Earthwatch
A participant takes a fin clip as a DNA sample from a juvenile blacktip shark (Carcharhinus limbatus) that was captured on a coastal longline survey.
A participant is baiting the hooks to catch sharks during longline surveys.  |. Earthwatch
An Earthwatch participant making sure the team doesn’t miss any important data collection..
A woman on a boat releasing a nurse shark (Ginglymostoma cirratum) that was caught for research purposes.
Five people taking a picture with a sharpnose shark (Rhizoprionodon spp.) they captured for research purposesbefore releasing back into the ocean.
Several people on a boat enjoying peaceful evening exploring a river that empties into the sea.
Several people on a boat measuring a shark for research purposes.
A blacktip shark being tagged for research purposes by two people.
A participant is baiting the hooks to catch sharks during longline surveys.  |. Earthwatch
A woman on a boat writing down notes.
A woman on a boat catching a shark for research purposes.
Five people posing on a boat in Belize after tagging a shark for research purposes.
Several people on a boat enjoying peaceful evening exploring a river that empties into the sea.

In the heart of a Belizean fishing community, you will help a team of researchers and shark fishers monitor the relative abundance of shark species along the coast while learning about the innovative ways these two seemingly opposites have worked together to monitor and reduce shark landings. 


An overhead view of several people deploying longline fishing gear!
.Over the last decade, with the help of Earthwatchers, this expedition has helped monitor shark populations in and out of marine reserves around the island cayes of Belize. Resulting data contributed to the worldwide project Global FinPrint, led by shark expert Dr. Demian Chapman  Dr. Chapman, and has helped increase and improve protected areas for sharks around the country’s remote atolls. Now, as the atolls have become protected and our monitoring indicates an increase in abundance, we are undertaking our next research objective: Monitoring the relative abundance of shark species along the coast.  

This expedition is as much a cultural experience as a scientific one. You will be hosted by a fishing family and fed delicious, homemade Belizean cuisine while becoming integrated into the hustle and bustle of a working fishing community as we team up with local fishers to conduct our surveys. Primarily surveying at night, you’ll experience the serenity of being on a moonlit ocean, where you will learn how to deploy the fishing gear and equipment used to catch, tag, and release the sharks we catch. 

When we aren’t fishing, we’ll explore the world’s first Jaguar preserve, Cockscomb Basin Wildlife Sanctuary, go crocodile spotting at a nearby creek, clean the village’s public beach, and catch up on data entry and analysis.  

We believe successful, effective management and conservation come from the ground up and start with inclusivity. Working with fisherfolk to achieve research objectives has not only reduced fishing pressure on sharks by diversifying fisherfolk income but has led to increased community engagement in science, shark conservation, and fisheries management. Join our team to discover what makes this community so special while enjoying all the beauty Belize has to offer. 

Learn more about our work together in PBS’ Changing Seas episode: Sharks in Belize: Jaguars of the Sea. 

See what past Earthwatchers have been up to on Fishers4Science’s Instagram Earthwatch Highlights. 

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A Typical Itinerary

  • Day 1: Meet your team, and introduction to the village. 
  • Day 2: Training day, introduction to research and equipment 
  • Days 3–6: Deploying standardized longline survey, tagging sharks, drumline fishing at Gladden Spit 
  • Day 7: Off Day: Day hike in Cockscomb Basin Wildlife Sanctuary 
  • Day 8: Early morning departure 

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HOW YOU WILL HELP

Two boats will carry volunteers to the fishing sites, where each team will deploy and retrieve their boat’s gear and tag any sharks they catch.

 

A person holding down a sharpnose shark to display tag.
TAG SHARKS TO MONITOR SPECIES AND ABUNDANCE IN COASTAL WATERS

Volunteers will deploy and retrieve the standardized longline. Upon checking the line, the team will take DNA samples, measure, and tag each shark before releasing them.

Three people tagging a large lemon shark caught at Gladden Spit.
TRACK MOVEMENTS OF SHARKS AT A SPAWNING AGGREGATION SITE

Volunteers will deploy drumlines to capture sharks that frequent a mutton snapper aggregation site. Sharks will be fitted with an internal acoustic transmitter to track their movements within the area.

Two people holding down a shark to measure it for research purposes.
COLLECT LIFE HISTORY DATA AND MONITOR SHARK LANDINGS

Belize has an active shark fishery, and volunteers who visit during the fishing season will visit fishing camps to collect important maturity data from landed sharks and help monitor shark landings.

 

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

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FEEDBACK & QUESTIONS

5 Reviews on this Expedition

If you have been on this expedition, others considering attending would love to hear about your experience.
Nadine Rund |
This expedition with Earthwatch to monitor sharks in Belize was one of the most rewarding experiences I have had in my nearly eighty years. There was not a wrong note. The leader, Megan Kelley, was superb. She taught us well and explained everything very well. The staff of the research center were excellent. I was concerned that my leg strength and balance would not be sufficient for this project, but all went well. I was the oldest person on the project. My task was to run the centrifuge on the boat to separate plasma from red blood cells when the sample had been taken from the shark. The other women on the expedition were all very good. All participated enthusiastically. The accommodations and food were very good. I cannot say enough about this experience. I went with two friends from Tucson, one of whom had been on six previous Earthwatch expeditions. I can certainly see why she has always been so enthusiastic about Earthwatch. Keep up the good work.
Nancy Martin |
Unique opportunity to experience the Caribbean (coconuts falling from trees, iguanas, and hermit crabs underfoot, red snapper so plentiful as to be used as bait.) Participate in shark research in a major coral reef in a non-tourist research reserve. Can't beat it!
Jessie Appelhans |
Before my expedition with Earthwatch I was drifting through life with one goal, find a way to save the sharks. However growing up in the land locked state of Colorado I was told that I would never be able to help the rapid decline of shark populations and that my energy would be better spend on land issues. I stumbled upon Earthwatch Institute while scrolling through my Facebook news feed, found the shark expedition in Belize and I couldn't believe that people could actually volunteer to help with research of this variety. At first I thought it would be way too expensive and I would never come up with the money to go. After the passing of my grandmother I inherited just enough to cover the expedition costs and my fights. The expedition absolutely changed my life, It was worth every penny and you are able to see where your dollars are going. I was able to work hands on with sharks and gain knowledge and experience you cant get in a classroom. This is my passion and I felt like a natural on the boat, handling sharks, and fishing like the locals. The experience opened up so many doors to continue my education because I was able to work side by side with some of the coolest professors and PhD students. After talking with the expedition leaders I felt confident in my path to get a higher education by moving to Florida and continuing and education out there. This expedition fueled my passion to save sharks and I hope to make it back to Belize.

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