.

Please read the following information before leaving for your expedition.

It provides the most accurate information available and will likely answer any questions you have about the project. You may also reach out to your Program Coordinator with any questions you may have.

 

 

 

Shark Conservation in Belize

Expedition Briefing

 

Download Packing List

 

Click on the images to view full size!

 

COVID-19 Safety

Please test for COVID-19 before traveling to your expedition; do not travel if you have tested positive, and call Earthwatch right away for the next steps. Visit earthwatch.org/covid-19 for more information on how you can help reduce the risk of COVID-19 impacting your expedition.

 

 

The Research

Sharks are targeted in many maritime countries for their fins, meat, oil, skin, cartilage, jaws, and teeth (Dent & Clarke 2015). There is evidence of a widespread collapse of exploited and unmanaged shark populations, and currently, there are no documented examples of sustainably managed shark fisheries outside of New Zealand, Australia, Canada, and the U.S.A. (Simpfendorfer & Dulvy 2017). Belize is a small Central American nation on the Caribbean Sea with low human population density that is bordered by two more populous and major shark-trading nations (Mexico in the North and Guatemala in the West and South; Dent & Clarke 2015). Belize has a moderate-sized seasonal shark fishery (November 1–May 30, but with a strong peak from November to Easter) that primarily exports products (salted meat, dried fins) to the Guatemalan and Honduran markets across the southern border (Zeller et al. 2011).

Shark meat is mainly consumed in these nations during the Catholic Lenten season (March-April), with the dried fins being re-exported to Asia for use in shark fin soup (Zeller et al. 2011). As shark populations are depleted in their waters, the demand for meat in Guatemala and Honduras is now being satisfied by new local fisheries targeting rays and a reliance on the legal export of shark products from Belizean fishermen. Belizean shark fishers use longlines to target sharks, and there is emerging evidence that the fishery has depleted some species outside of protected areas where these gear types are prohibited (Bond et al. 2012). It is imperative that we work with Belizean shark fishers to make sure their catches are sustainable and that protected areas (and other conservation measures) are effective.

In 2017, the government of Belize established the world’s first ray sanctuary, motivated in part by data collected on this project. We’ll continue to monitor ray populations and assess the impact of this protected area. 

 

Shark Conservation in Belize

 

 

 

Research Aims

We are addressing three major research objectives. The first is to determine if protected areas in Belize are an effective conservation tool for enhancing shark populations. We are answering this question by tracking population trends in three protected areas in Belize: Glover’s Reef, South Water Caye, and Gladden Spit, and comparing them to nearby fished areas. Our second objective is to investigate the movements and fishing mortality rates of sharks and rays by tagging individuals in all these areas. The third is to investigate the volume, species composition, and size composition of the shark catch. Once these data are analyzed, we will communicate our findings to the public and policymakers, which will shape shark and ray conservation strategies nationally and regionally. 

Importantly, we are collecting these data with shark fishermen to involve them in the process of managing the resources that they rely on. We are testing two predictions associated with the hypothesis that protected areas enhance shark populations: first, that sharks are consistently more abundant in protected areas than on fished reefs, and second, that shark abundance will increase or remain high and stable in such areas over time. We measure shark abundance at all these sites using cameras placed in front of bait cages (baited remote underwater video stations or “BRUVs”). A bait cage contains one kilogram of chopped sardines, which attracts sharks, rays, and carnivorous fish. By counting the number of sharks and rays that swim into the field of view, we can estimate shark abundance and compare the results between sites and across years to test the predictions of our hypothesis. In addition, the BRUV data we collect are part of the Global FinPrint project (www.globalfinprint.org), which is the largest standard survey of sharks and rays on the world’s coral reefs. The Global FinPrint analysis will allow us to measure how the abundance and diversity of sharks and rays in Belize compared to reefs in other parts of the world. It will also enable us to determine what features of a coral reef determine how many sharks and rays live on it. 

Communication is also an essential part of the battle for conservation. We investigate local attitudes toward sharks and marine reserves and use our BRUV footage to show local stakeholders, business leaders, and policymakers that protected areas have robust shark and ray populations. We aim to convince them that continued investment in these areas will benefit wildlife that are important for tourism.

It is important to understand the movements and fishing mortality rates of sharks and rays in Belize because both parameters are needed to estimate sustainable catch levels and to understand whether protected areas are working (i.e. if fishing mortality is high and movements outside protected areas common, this strategy is not going to be effective). We will capture sharks and rays alive using research longlines and nets, working alongside local shark fishermen experienced with using this gear. We will tag and release all animals, and when they are recaptured (by us or fishermen) we will be able to collect data on movements and fishing mortality. The fishers hired to work with us for this program will all substantially reduce their normal shark landings because of this alternative source of income, thus directly lowering the national shark landings to more sustainable levels.

Quantifying the volume of shark landings on a species—and size-specific basis every year is a fundamental requirement of conservation. There are a myriad of logistical obstacles hindering this type of data collection on a regular basis in Belize, leaving authorities with few management options. We have devised a new approach for collecting species and size composition data: Belizean shark fishers all submit one of the low-value secondary fins (anal fin) of all landed sharks to the Belize Department of Fisheries (BDF). BDF then provides us with these fins for visual identification to a species level, and species-specific regression equations are used to estimate their body size. So far, we have examined over 3,000 anal fins and found that ten species make up more than 90% of the catch (Caribbean reef, blacktip, Caribbean sharpnose, bonnethead, great hammerhead, tiger, scalloped hammerhead, lemon, bull, and silky). We have also found that Caribbean reef and blacktip sharks are primarily landed below the age-at-first maturity and are potentially overfished, while Caribbean sharpnose and bonnethead are not. We will continue monitoring these patterns over time to determine how they change with increasing regulations.

 

Shark Conservation in Belize

 

 

 

How You Will Help

You will assist researchers in the following activities:

CATCHING SHARKS BY HOOK AND LINE FOR TAGGING AND SAMPLE COLLECTION.

Using longlines, you will help capture sharks. All large sharks are firmly secured to the side of the research vessel prior to data collection and are kept in the water for the whole procedure. Small sharks are brought aboard for workup. We will collect length measurements and a DNA sample (small fin clip) and place an ID tag on each shark. Certain species will receive either an internal acoustic transmitter or fin mounted satellite tag. You will help with measurements. DNA collection and ID tag placement. Experienced staff will place any electronic tags as well as safely secure and release the shark before and after each workup. You will also assist in measuring environmental data.

TRACKING THE MOVEMENTS OF SHARKS

ID tags are helpful when sharks are recaptured to help determine how much the shark has grown. Shark movements will be remotely tracked using acoustic receivers that will need to be periodically recovered, downloaded, cleaned, and returned to their moorings. Volunteers will help with this process, which will include navigation to the point, snorkeling to locate the mooring, and cleaning the receiver to keep it in working order. Detached stingray and nurse shark tags will be actively located and recovered using a radio antenna. Volunteers will help retrieve the tags.

DEPLOYMENT OF BRUV UNITS IN THE FIELD

Volunteers will help deploy BRUV units by maintaining the units, transporting them by boat, deploying them (using a rope and float), measuring the environmental data, and recovering the units. If time permits, BRUVs will be reviewed at the end of each sampling day. You will be trained in shark and stingray species identification.

TEEN TEAM: GLOVERS REEF 

On this expedition, you’ll be based at Glover’s Reef Atoll, approximately 45 kilometers (28 miles) off the coast—one of the most remote and well-protected of the three offshore atolls within the Belize Barrier Reef. Some teams may make day trips to South Water Caye, approximately 24 kilometers (15 miles) southeast of Dangriga on the Belize Barrier Reef, to fish for stingrays. 

The station where each team is located will be subject to change at the discretion of the scientists based on projected weather and sea conditions for safety and to maximize your time in the field. Your team may spend some field time at both sites, but you’ll work on the same research, regardless of site, except for the shark and ray tracking project, which only takes place at Glover’s Reef.

QUANTIFYING THE SHARK CATCH

Volunteers will help quantify the shark catch by identifying, counting, and measuring dried anal fins from sharks landed by fishers and submitted to the Belize Department of Fisheries (BDF), coupled with data entry. This data will then be dispatched to BDF to be used in management decisions.

 

Shark Conservation in Belize

 

 

 

Life in the Field

Weather and research needs can lead to changes in the daily schedule. We appreciate your cooperation and understanding. 

Activities will generally be divided into “home” and “away” categories. Home activities will include gear preparation, gear maintenance, bait preparation, and organization. Away activities will include BRUV deployment/retrieval, shark fishing, bait acquisition, receiver recovery or deployment, stingray fishing, accelerometer retrieval, and snorkeling (the latter is recreational/ educational in nature and not required). We are set up for all team members to be able to participate in all away excursions during their expedition if they are able, but it is not mandatory. A typical day would involve away activities in the morning between breakfast and lunch, with another away activity in the afternoon and potentially at night. Night activities are always optional.

ITINERARY

Weather and research needs can lead to changes in the daily schedule. We appreciate your cooperation and understanding.

RIVERSDALE 

DAY 1: Rendezvous at the Placencia Airport. Head to Riversdale. Project briefing and training, social activity.

DAYS 2–7: Fieldwork.

DAY 8: Departure from Riversdale to Placencia’s airport.

TEEN TEAM: GLOVERS REEF

DAY 1: Rendezvous at the Dangriga Airport. Head to Glovers Reef. Project briefing and training, social activity.

DAYS 2–7: Fieldwork.

DAY 8: Departure from Glovers Reef to Dangriga’s airport.

 

Shark Conservation in Belize

 

 

 

Accommodations and Food

* Please note that not every expedition has couples’ or singles accommodations available. Please call or email Earthwatch to check for availability prior to reserving your space(s) on the team.

RIVERSDALE
SLEEPING

Accommodations are two beachfront houses divided by gender. Sleeping quarters are a shared space with bunk beds, each equipped with an electric fan. We are unable to accommodate shared room requests for people of different genders. Each house has its own bathroom inside.

Please note that room selection is determined by the field station and rental house availability and is not up to Earthwatch or the field staff.

* Earthwatch will honor each person’s assertion of gender identity respectfully and without judgment. For both teen and adult teams, where logistics dictate single-sex accommodations or other facilities, participant placements will be made in accordance with the gender identity the participant specified on their Earthwatch Participant form and/or preferences indicated in discussions with Earthwatch.

BATHROOMS

Bathrooms (shower, sink, and toilet) are located within each house. Showers, sinks, and toilets are fed by captured freshwater during the rainy season, and for most of the year, we only resort to pumped well water during the driest times.

ELECTRICITY

In Belize, the standard voltage is 110/220 V. The standard frequency is 60 Hz. The power sockets that are used are of type B / G. Please note that electricity in Belize can be interrupted by weather conditions. All rooms have 24-hour electricity, electrical sockets, and an electric fan. 110/ 220 (Type B sockets).

PERSONAL COMMUNICATIONS

Wireless Internet with slow connectivity is available but should be used sparingly. Outages are common. 

Please note: Earthwatch encourages volunteers to minimize outgoing calls and immerse themselves in the experience; likewise, family and friends should restrict calls to urgent messages only. Emergency communications will be prioritized.

DISTANCE TO THE FIELD SITE

Variable, but usually 1–10 kilometers (0.6–6 miles). You’ll be transported to and from the field in a small boat.

FOOD AND WATER

Three meals per day will be provided, and packed meals will be provided for mealtimes when we are on the water. The food will be local Belizean cuisine.

The following are examples of foods you may find in the field. Variety depends on availability. We appreciate your flexibility.

TYPICAL MEALS
  • Breakfast:Bread or something similar (fried jacks, journey cake or johnny cake, cornbread, pancakes) with meat (ham, sausage, bacon) and a selection of fruit
  • Lunch: Pasta, chicken, pizza, fish, stewed beef with beans and rice, salad, or cooked vegetables on the side, dessert
  • Dinner: Similar options as lunch
  • Beverages: Water, tea, and coffee are available to drink. Lunch and dinner are usually served with fresh juice. Safe drinking water is always available.
SPECIAL DIETARY REQUIREMENTS 

Please alert Earthwatch to any special dietary requirements (e.g., diabetes, lactose intolerance, nut, seafood, or other food allergies, vegetarian or vegan diets) as soon as possible, and note them in the space provided on your volunteer forms.

SPECIAL NOTE TO VEGANS: Please be aware that we are unable to accommodate strict vegans. It may be possible to get meatless meals, but vegans will be unable to avoid animal products altogether. If this is an issue, then participation on this Earthwatch expedition should be seriously reconsidered.

TEEN TEAM: GLOVERS REEF 
SLEEPING

Accommodations will be single rooms and will be divided by gender. All bedding is provided, including a bath towel, and rooms have electric fans. If families or couples want to stay in the same room, please inform Earthwatch in advance, and we will try to accommodate your request. Please note that room selection is determined by the field station and rental house availability and is not up to Earthwatch or the field staff.

* Earthwatch will honor each person’s assertion of gender identity, respectfully and without judgment. For both teen and adult teams, where logistics dictate single-sex accommodations or other facilities, participant placements will be made in accordance with the gender identity the participant specified on their Earthwatch Participant form and/or preferences indicated in discussions with Earthwatch.

BATHROOMS

Shower facilities are located near the rooms. Showers and sinks are fed by captured freshwater during the rainy season, and for most of the year, we only resort to pumped well water during the driest times. Showers have hot water, but it is limited in supply due to small hot water heaters. Enclosed, non-polluting composting toilets are near the dormitories at each site, separated by two flights of stairs—one to the dormitories and one to the toilets.

ELECTRICITY

In Belize, the standard voltage is 110/220 V. The standard frequency is 60 Hz. The power sockets that are used are of type B / G. Please note that electricity in Belize can be interrupted by weather conditions. All rooms have 24-hour electricity, electrical sockets, and an electric fan. 110/ 220 (Type B sockets).

PERSONAL COMMUNICATIONS

Wireless Internet with slow connectivity is available but should be used sparingly. Outages are common. There is also a phone available (weather permitting) at WCS-GMRS; however, the field station will charge you for international phone usage, and it should be used sparingly. *Please keep in mind that we are on an island, and both internet and electricity can be interrupted based on weather conditions

Please note: Earthwatch encourages volunteers to minimize outgoing calls and immerse themselves in the experience; likewise, family and friends should restrict calls to urgent messages only. Emergency communications will be prioritized.

DISTANCE TO THE FIELD SITE

Variable, but usually 1–10 kilometers (0.6–6 miles). You’ll be transported to and from the field in a small boat.

FOOD AND WATER

Full-time cooks are responsible for the kitchen and dining area. Meals are served three times a day on a fixed schedule, with packed lunches available if necessary. You will enjoy mostly Belizean cuisine, complemented by a few non-local dishes. Food and other supplies are purchased on the mainland and arrive once every two weeks, normally on Fridays.

Glover’s Reef has a large dining hall, and we eat meals together with the Belizean station staff. Breakfast is from 7–8:00 a.m., lunch from 12–1:00 p.m., and dinner from 6–7:00 p.m. This may change slightly if either one of the field stations has other researchers present. Field activities are planned around meals. Some snacks are available during the day, but we also recommend that you bring some of your own snacks from the mainland. There are no stores nearby. Please note there is no refrigerator in or near the dormitories, and there is limited space for food in the shared kitchen refrigerator. If you require additional snacks, it is recommended that you bring some that do not require refrigeration. 

The following are examples of foods you may find in the field. Variety depends on availability. We appreciate your flexibility.

TYPICAL MEALS
  • Breakfast: Bread or something similar (fried jacks, journey cake or johnny cake, cornbread, pancakes) with meat (ham, sausage, bacon) and a selection of fruit
  • Lunch: Pasta, chicken, pizza, fish, stewed beef with beans and rice, salad, or cooked vegetables on the side, dessert
  • Dinner: Similar options as lunch
  • Beverages: Water, tea, and coffee are available to drink. Some soft drinks are available for purchase. No alcohol is allowed at the field station. Safe drinking water is always available.
SPECIAL DIETARY REQUIREMENTS

Please alert Earthwatch to any special dietary requirements (e.g., diabetes, lactose intolerance, nut, seafood, or other food allergies, vegetarian or vegan diets) as soon as possible, and note them in the space provided on your volunteer forms.

SPECIAL NOTE TO VEGANS: Please be aware that it is often difficult to accommodate strict vegans. It may be possible to get meatless meals, but vegans may have a problem avoiding animal products altogether. If this is an issue, then participation on this Earthwatch expedition should be seriously reconsidered.

 

Shark Conservation in Belize

 

 

 

Project Conditions

The information that follows is as accurate as possible, but please keep in mind that conditions may change.

GENERAL CONDITIONS

For weather and region-specific information, please visit Wunderground.com and search for your project location.

BOATING CONDITIONS

We work from an open 20- to 25-foot fiberglass research vessel. There is no bathroom on board, but we can take bathroom breaks during the workday on nearby islands or in the water.

There is no canopy or shade on the boat, so shirts, brimmed hats, neck gaiters (or light scarves), and consistently re-applied sunscreen are essential. 

The vessel has seats and safety equipment. We plan our research accordingly and will adjust work plans so that the volunteers are comfortable with the sea conditions.

We lift equipment on and off the boat (which involves lowering a 40-pound metal BRUV frame over the side). You may assist or opt out of this activity. Most of the items being lifted on and off the boat weigh less than five pounds.

 

Shark Conservation in Belize

 

 

 

Essential Eligibility Requirements

All participants must be able to:

  • Wear all protective equipment recommended or required by industry standards.
  • Work on a boat for approximately 6-8 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.
  • Enjoy being outdoors all day in all types of weather and the potential presence of wild animals and insects.
  • Endure tropic (hot and humid) work conditions.
  • Be comfortable with living in and moving between remote study sites. 
  • Follow verbal and/or visual instructions independently or with the assistance of a companion.
  • Take an active role in one’s own safety by recognizing and avoiding hazards if and when they arise (including, but not limited to, those described in Earthwatch materials and safety briefings). Always comply with project staff instructions and recommended safety measures.
  • Effectively communicate to the staff if experiencing distress or need assistance.
  • Get along with a variety of people from different backgrounds, often in close proximity, for the duration of the team.
  • Be comfortable being surrounded by a language and/or culture that is not your own.

 

Shark Conservation in Belize

 

 

 

Health and Safety

EMERGENCIES IN THE FIELD

Project staff members are not medical professionals.

Earthwatch has a 24-hour, 7-day-a-week emergency hotline number. Someone is always on call to respond to messages that come into our live answering service.

IMMUNIZATIONS & TRAVEL VACCINATIONS

Please be sure your routine immunizations are up to date (for example, diphtheria, pertussis, tetanus, polio, measles, mumps, rubella, and varicella) and that you have the appropriate vaccinations for your travel destination. Medical decisions are the responsibility of each volunteer and their doctor. Visit the Center for Disease Control and Prevention or the World Health Organization for guidance on immunizations.

If traveling from countries or regions where yellow fever is endemic, you must have a certificate of vaccination.

Staying up to date with your COVID-19 vaccinations, including receiving booster doses, as applicable, is strongly encouraged.

 

Shark Conservation in Belize

 

 

 

Project Risks and Precautions

HIKING/WALKING

There is minimal danger given the terrain of the accommodations and coastal beach area. Wear closed-toe footwear (e.g., not flip flops) to avoid cuts. Tevas and Chacos are ideal for both island and boat conditions.

INSECTS

Sand flies (also known as “sand fleas” or “no-see-ums”) and mosquitoes are nuisances throughout the year. Sand flies are believed to be a vector for leishmaniasis in some regions. Some find them to be only irritating, but occasionally people have very bad reactions to the bites. Please come prepared with an oral antihistamine that you know you can tolerate, as well as a topical anti-itch cream. Those traveling from outside the Americas may have a more severe reaction to bites. To avoid sand flies, wear lightweight, long pants and socks in the evening (they generally bite from the knees down). Mosquitoes may transmit several diseases, including malaria and Zika virus, which are present in Belize (see the Safety section for more information). Repellents containing DEET work well against mosquitoes. To avoid them, also wear lightweight, long pants, shirts, and socks in the evening.

MARINE ANIMALS/ PLANTS

Working with sharks and stingrays alongside or in a boat is inherently dangerous. All sharks and stingrays we work with are hooked in the mouth and are secured prior to the workup. Teams will be heavily supervised during this activity and will not touch sharks forward of their dorsal fins. Stingray spines will be removed by staff both for safety and for use as a scientific sample. The staff members have years of experience working with sharks and stingrays without incident. 

Potentially dangerous animals that could be encountered while snorkeling include sharks, stingrays, sea urchins, lionfish, and jellyfish. Although rare, saltwater crocodiles have been seen. Staff will train you to identify dangerous species and to avoid touching any organisms. Those with a severe allergy to bee or wasp stings may have a similarly dangerous reaction to corals and jellyfish and must always carry an EpiPen and notify staff of its location.

CLIMATE/WEATHER

The Caribbean sun is very intense. Please bring plenty of good-quality waterproof sunscreen at several SPF levels. You will also want to bring after-sun lotion to soothe your skin after a long day in the sun. Some volunteers have found it helpful to bring long-sleeved, lightweight, quick-drying shirts and long pants to wear when not in the water (including on the boat between snorkels). A hat with a wide brim and a neck gaiter or loose scarf are recommended, as are polarized sunglasses and a chord to secure them around your neck. With the sun comes heat and risks of overheating and dehydration. Both can lead to illness. Drinking water frequently and minimizing exposure to the sun will help make your experience more enjoyable. Brief periods of intense rain are not uncommon during the field season, so a sturdy rain jacket is mandatory. More extreme tropical storms and hurricanes traditionally occur from June through November with late August, September, and October as the most active periods. A hurricane plan exists and will be followed in the case of an extreme weather event. Because of the high humidity, people who use a hearing aid may find it doesn’t work properly. Consider purchasing a hearing aid dehumidifier. 

For teams arriving in January, warmer clothing is necessary. Volunteers will be reminded each day about appropriate clothing requirements. In extremely windy/stormy weather, field activities will cease until the weather improves.

PROJECT TASKS/ EQUIPMENT

We will be working with some sharp items (hooks) and bait (spines). Volunteers will be issued gloves and will be trained in the safe handling of these items.

WORKING ON A BOAT

Working aboard a small boat poses a risk. Bouncing or jostling can be quite uncomfortable for volunteers with chronic back problems or a history of seasickness. Boat surfaces are wet and can be slippery, putting one at risk of falling and injury. You must be able to keep your balance on a rocking boat. Unplanned immersion in the water from falling overboard can also put one at risk of injury and/or cold-related illnesses. The boats are equipped with appropriate safety equipment, including life jackets for each person. Volunteers will be trained on how to move around the boat safely. Sensible footwear (shoes, sandals), but not flip-flops, will be mandatory on the boat.

SWIMMING

Be aware that swimming may be possible during recreational time, and typical water-related risks will be present, such as strong currents, jellyfish, etc. A certified lifeguard is unlikely to be available. A provided dive flag is required to be displayed from the dock or floated behind you.

SNORKELING

There are inherent risks to snorkeling, including the effects of environmental conditions, nitrogen (for those who’ve recently been scuba diving), barotrauma, boat traffic, marine life, and other risks specific to your own physical/medical history. When snorkeling, it is important to learn to properly control your breathing to reduce the risk of hyperventilation and blackout. You need to bring and maintain your own mask, snorkel, fins, booties, and exposure protection (e.g., rash guard). Snorkel vests can be provided for those who either prefer them or are required to use them. It is critical that you ensure that all gear is in good working order, and you are fully trained in appropriate response if a failure occurs while in the water. All snorkeling will be optional and conducted in groups, with rigorous practice of the buddy system. Each buddy pair will trail a dive float, and our small research vessel, with at least one Field Staff besides the captain, will follow the group during the activity. If volunteers choose to snorkel during their free time on the island, they must do so in designated areas approved by staff and understand there is no lifeguard on duty. They should also practice the buddy system and take a dive float out with them. Typical in-water hazards include fire coral, sea urchins, jellyfish, occasional boat traffic, strong currents, dangerous bottom conditions (drop-off, mud), and biting or territorial animals.

You are required to bring your own snorkeling gear (mask, snorkel, and fins), should you choose to participate. Please check your gear for functionality prior to your arrival, as there are no dive shops at the field stations. Avoid bringing short swim fins; proper snorkeling fins are essential.

DISTANCE FROM MEDICAL CARE
RIVERSDALE

The nearest hospital is 22–35 kilometers (13–21 miles) away from the project site by boat (depending on base location), and it may take up to two hours to arrange transport and reach the hospital. If you have a chronic condition that could require immediate medical care (e.g., heart conditions, kidney problems, severe asthma, etc.), or if you are pregnant, please discuss your participation on this expedition with your physician. 

TEEN TEAM: GLOVERS REEF 

The nearest hospital is 22–35 kilometers (13–21 miles) away from the project site by boat (depending on base location), and it may take up to two hours to arrange transport and reach the hospital. If you have a chronic condition that could require immediate medical care (e.g., heart conditions, kidney problems, severe asthma, etc.), or if you are pregnant, please discuss your participation on this expedition with your physician. It is important to keep in mind that the Glover’s Reef site is the more remote site, and it is not easy to get to, even in the event of an emergency.

COVID-19 DISEASE RISKS 

COVID-19 remains an evolving risk to communities and individuals around the world.

Earthwatch strongly encourages you to stay up to date with your vaccinations, including receiving booster doses if available and to continue to limit your exposure before your program, such as wearing a mask during travel and frequently washing your hands. Persons with a higher risk of severe illness from COVID-19 should consult with their healthcare provider before participation. 

If you, or another person on site, display symptoms of illness or test positive for COVID-19, you may be required to wear a mask, test for COVID-19, seek medical advice, isolate/quarantine on- or off-site, cease or limit participation in program activities, and/or take other precautions. If local conditions or recommendations from authorities change, additional requirements may be implemented. 

If you must isolate or depart from a program due to COVID-19 or other illness, you will not be entitled to a refund of the contribution for the program, nor any expenses resulting from your participation in the program or a disruption of your travel plans. We strongly encourage you to purchase travel insurance that will cover this eventuality.

 

Shark Conservation in Belize

 

 

 

Travel Planning

RIVERSDALE

Placencia Airport, Belize (Airport code: PLJ)

TEEN TEAM: GLOVERS REEF

Dangriga Airport, Belize (Airport code: DGA)

* Additional information will be provided by Earthwatch to meet your team. Please do not book travel arrangements such as flights until you have received additional information from Earthwatch.

ABOUT YOUR DESTINATION

Earthwatch strongly recommends that travelers investigate their destination prior to departure. Familiarity with the destination’s entry/exit requirements, visas, local laws, and customs can go a long way to ensuring smooth travel. The U.S. Department of State's Traveler’s Checklist and Destination Guides are helpful resources. For LGBTI travelers, the U.S. Department of State's LGBTI Travelers page contains many useful tips and links.

COUNTRY AND PROJECT ENTRY REQUIREMENTS

You are responsible for reviewing and abiding by your destination's entry/exit requirements. 

Entry visa requirements differ by country of origin, layover, and destination and do change unexpectedly. For this reason, please confirm your visa requirements at the time of booking and again 90 days before travel. Please apply early for your visa (we recommend starting six months before the start of your expedition). Refunds will not be made for volunteers canceling due to not obtaining their visa in time to meet the team at the rendezvous. You can find up-to-date visa requirements at the following website: travisa.com.

If a visa is required, participants should apply for a TOURIST visa. Please note that obtaining a visa can take weeks or even months. We strongly recommend using a visa agency to expedite and simplify the process.

 

Shark Conservation in Belize

 

 

 

Resources

ARTICLES
PROJECT-RELATED MEDIA
ARTICLES
  • Bond ME, Valentin-Albanese J, Babcock EA, Abercrombie D, Lamb NF, Miranda A, Pikitch EK, Chapman DD. 2017. “Abundance and size structure of a reef shark population within a marine reserve has remained stable for more than a decade.” Marine Ecology Progress Series, 576: 1-10.
  • Bernard AM, Horn RL, Chapman DD, Feldheim KA, Garla RC, Brooks EJ, Gore MA, Shivji MS. 2017. “Genetic connectivity of a coral reef ecosystem predator: the population genetic structure and evolutionary history of the Caribbean reef shark (Carcharhinus perezi).” Journal of Biogeography.
  • Fields AT, Feldheim KA, Gelsleichter J, Pfoertner C, Chapman DD. 2016. “Population structure and cryptic speciation in bonnethead sharks Sphyrna tiburo in the southeastern USA and Caribbean.” Journal of Fish Biology 89 (5): 2219-2233.
  • Bond ME, Babcock EA, Pikitch EK, Abercrombie DL, Lamb NF, Chapman DD. “Reef Sharks Exhibit Site-Fidelity and Higher Relative Abundance in Marine Reserves on the Mesoamerican Barrier Reef.” PLoS ONE 7(3): e32983.
BOOKS
  • Sobel, Jack and Craig Dahlgren. Marine Reserves: A Guide to Science, Design, and Use. Island Press: 2004.
FIELD GUIDES
  • Humann, Paul and Ned DeLoach. Reef Fish Identification Florida Caribbean Bahamas (3rd ed). New World Publications: 2002.
LITERATURE CITED
  • Bond, M. E., Babcock, E. A., Pikitch, E. K., Abercrombie, D. L., Lamb, N. F., Chapman, D. D. (2012). Reef sharks exhibit site fidelity and higher relative abundance in marine reserves on the Mesoamerican Barrier Reef. PloS one 7(3), e32983.
  • Dent, F., Clarke, S. (2015). State of the global market for shark products. FAO Fisheries and Aquaculture Technical Paper 590, I.
  • Simpfendorfer, C. A., & Dulvy, N. K. (2017). Bright spots of sustainable shark fishing. Curr. Biol. 27(3), R97-R98.
  • Zeller, D., Graham, R., Harper, S. (2011). Reconstruction of total marine fisheries catches for Belize, 1950-2008. In: M. L. D. Palomares & D. Pauly, eds. Too Precious to Drill: the Marine Biodiversity of Belize. Fisheries Centre Research Reports 19(6), 142-151. Fisheries Centre, University of British Columbia [ISSN 1198-6727].

 

Shark Conservation in Belize

 

 

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