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Marine Biology Internship

Marine Biology Internship in Belize

a group of fish underwaterWant to take part in our Marine Biology Internship in Belize? Book a Trip Now! ReefCI – Reef Conservation International is one of the largest and best value Marine Biology Internship organizations in all of Belize. There are many companies out there selling our program but now you can book it directly through ReefCI! 

People from all over the world volunteer with ReefCI and have a shared passion for diving and ocean conservation, which makes for great group dynamics. We give you the unique opportunity to learn about and help conserve the coral reef and ocean while having a fun volunteer experience. ReefCI trips are for beginners and experienced scuba divers and those wishing to become certified divers. Everyone contributes regardless of their background or experience. You will be spearing the invasive lionfish and participating in our other conservation dives and making a difference!

Reef Conservation International (ReefCI) gives you the opportunity to learn about reef ecosystems and help conserve and protect the reef by directly helping us with our marine conservation projects all while having a fun holiday/vacation! Book a Trip Now!

a fish swimming under waterFeel the thrill of swimming with a whale shark, the excitement of spearing the invasive lionfish, and the satisfaction in helping protect coral reefs. ReefCI’s Marine Biology Internship volunteer programs create a unique opportunity to protect reef ecosystems by directly participating in our ongoing marine conservation projects! We are located on a small, private, picture-perfect Caribbean island on the Belize Barrier Reef. The diving is incredible and the conservation work we do is meaningful. Ready to join us? Book Now!

Marine Biology Internship Projects & Education Program

Reef Conservation International empowers our volunteers to take an active role in directly protecting and conserving our oceans that we love via our Marine Biology Internship projects and environmental education and awareness program. You will learn about the invasive lionfish species that is destroying our native coral reefs and participate in our dives to spearfish and remove this incredibly destructive species. You will also learn all about coral reefs, tropical fish, sharks, manatees, dolphins and many other species from tiny invertebrates to the largest fish in the ocean, the whale shark. You will participate in our marine conservation identification dives to discover the wonders of the marine world.  We also cover many more topics from ocean acidification, climate change, to global warming and you will discover things you can do to combat these issues. Join us and make a difference!

Each week/day will differ but your volunteering efforts will be help in the following areas:

  • Invasive Lionfish: Spearfish to remove this destructive invasive species that is destroying native coral reef ecosystems. 
  • Marine Conservation Education: Learn about coral reefs and marine animals and discover how we can protect our oceans and reefs.
  • Whale Shark Monitoring (if spotted): Watch this short YouTube video, Whale Sharking with ReefCI to see it in action!
  • Biodiversity Identification Dives: ID dives (fish, sea turtles, sharks, invertebrates, coral) to increase one’s knowledge and understanding of reef ecosystems.
  • Beach Clean-ups: Weekly beach and island trash/plastic removal on islands of the Belize Barrier Reef.

Depending on the season and length of your volunteering stay you might not take part in all of these activities above but it is a good bet that you will experience most of them. Check out this short video, Volunteering with ReefCI, to get an overall feel for what you will experience. Book a Trip Now!

Marine Biology Internship Program Schedules and Weekly Itinerary

ReefCI Beach CleanupAll new volunteers to the island will complete the week 1 schedule while on the island.  Those who are with us as rollovers (volunteers with us multiple weeks in a row) will be on our cycle two, three, and four schedules. Please click on the links below to see each detailed weekly schedule that includes dives, conservation presentation topics, and meals.

About ReefCI: A Registered NGO/Non-Profit

ReefCI Marine Conservation in BelizeReefCI has been developing and working on a wide variety of Marine Biology Internship projects to protect the Belize Barrier Reef and ocean ecosystem for over 16 years. ReefCI is a registered non-profit in the USA as well as a registered NGO in Belize. Since 2006, ReefCI through our volunteer citizen-scientist projects, has fought to protect the ocean and improve coral reef ecosystems. However, ReefCI cannot do it alone, we need your help.  Individually, we are one drop. Together, we are an ocean.

How We Are Funded

Our work is funded through environmentally minded eco-volunteers, like yourself, who come to our unique island in Belize to assist in our Marine Biology Internship projects and protect the underwater world we love. Without your help and funding, ReefCI would not be possible. Our volunteers truly are the change they wish to see in the world. Join us and make a difference!

Environmental and Social Goals

ReefCI has been and will continue to be focused on our hands-on Marine Biology Internship projects that protect the millions of species that rely on healthy functioning marine ecosystems. ReefCI firmly believes that hands-on education and activism is a key component in maintaining a sustainable future for humankind. To that end, ReefCI provides experiential learning through our volunteer-based conservation projects, which will enable global citizens to impact decisions about conservation and world issues. We encourage everyone to volunteer and become a part of our community of people who care about the future of our planet’s oceans.

What Is Included?

  • 5 days/4 nights on private island in the Caribbean off the coast of Belize
  • 3 meals daily during dive week
  • 12-13 dives per week
  • At least one night dive a week
  • Training for conservation work and participation in our programs
  • Island boat transfers to and from island
  • All diving equipment (excluding wetsuit, fins and booties, dive mask)
  • Accommodations while on the island

What Is Not Included?

  • Flights to Placencia, Belize
  • Wetsuit, fins, booties, dive mask
  • Optional PADI certification courses you would like to take while on the island
  • Sapodilla Caye Marine Park Fees: 25 USD per week
  • Alcohol and soda/pop while on the island (2-5 USD per drink)

Becoming A Marine Conservation Volunteer

Becoming a Marine Biology Internship volunteer is easy and we attract a vast cross section of demographics from diverse ages, backgrounds, and nationalities. We have singles, students, working professionals, families, couples, and retirees that come to our island! People coming on this type of volunteer experience all have a shared passion for diving and ocean conservation, which makes for great group dynamics. We give the general diver a unique opportunity to learn about and help conserve the marine environment while having a fun volunteer experience. Our trips are for both experienced and non-experienced divers and those wishing to become certified divers. Everyone contributes regardless of their background or experience. The research methodologies we teach are very simple and you will learn all you need to know in our training sessions prior to each dive. You will be spearing the invasive lionfish and participating in our other conservation dives and making a difference!

How Much Will I Be Volunteering?

Our Marine Biology Internship volunteers can choose how much they wish to get involved. Some people want to do as much conservation diving and learning as possible, while others wish to combine the conservation dives with a bit of relaxation and island time.  All dives are voluntary so you can choose to relax in our hammocks with a good book, fish from the island, or do a bit of sea kayaking/stand up paddle boarding or immerse yourself in conservation volunteering. The choice is yours!  Please visit ReefCI on TripAdvisor for past volunteer reviews. Book a Trip Now!

Scuba Certification and Diving with ReefCI

Our marine science volunteer trips are for both non-experienced and experienced divers. Not certified?  No worries, many of our volunteers come to the island to learn to dive. Looking to further your dive credentials? Many of our volunteers come to our island to further their diving certification status. Regardless of your diving level, our island is a wonderful place to learn with calm, clear waters and little current. Click here to learn more about taking a dive certification course with ReefCI and find the answers to our frequently asked diving questions.

We Have Lots To Offer On The Island When Not Diving!

  • Stand Up Paddle Boarding
  • Kayaking
  • Snorkeling
  • Fishing from the island
  • Conservation help (dissections, data collection)
  • Volleyball and badminton
  • Great food and lots of hammock time!
  • Further your dive course training with us with optional PADI courses

Accommodations

ReefCI is located on a beautiful picture-perfect private island that is part of the Sapodilla Cayes Marine Reserve Park, located in southern Belize. Our island is a coral island located directly on the Belize Barrier Reef 25 miles from the mainland off the coast of Placencia, Belize. The island is about 1½ acres with lots of hammock space shaded by coconut trees. It really is a perfect Caribbean paradise surrounded by turquoise coral seas with dive sites 5-10 minutes away!

Accommodations are basic but clean and comfortable and can best be described as hostel-like.  If you are expecting or wishing for a 5-star resort then our island is not for you. The location however is 5 star!! Quirky, stone cabanas surround the island and house our single volunteers. 

Our main cabana building houses couples, families, and groups. Every cabana has incredible views of the Caribbean Sea! Imagine waking up to the sound of waves lapping against the shore and a spectacular Belizean sunrise!  For groups, friends and couples, there are double, twin, family rooms in the main cabana building with their own bathroom. Volunteers staying in individual cabanas have shared bathrooms. We do not have air conditioning on the island as the strong trade winds provide a continuous cooling breeze on the island. However, rooms can occasionally become stuffy so all rooms have fans if needed.

There are no mosquitoes or sand flies on our island! We are blessed due to our location 25 miles from the mainland, the strong trade winds, and the absence of fresh water and suitable breeding habitat on the island. Our island is the perfect Caribbean castaway island!

Travel Details and Schedule

Our Marine Biology Internship dive trips are Monday thru Friday – we depart for our island at 9:30am on Monday from Placencia, Belize and return to the mainland (Placencia) on Friday anywhere from 11am-1pm. You will need to schedule your arrival and departure in and out of Placencia, Belize either on a Saturday or Sunday. Please see the Getting Here document which provides the best travel options to Placencia, Belize.

Weekend Accommodations

All volunteers will need to book somewhere to stay in Placencia, Belize upon arrival and departure on the weekends. Those staying multiple weeks will need weekend accommodations on the mainland Friday night thru Sunday night in between their weeks with us on the island. So, with ReefCI you get the best of both worlds.  Monday thru Friday on a private Caribbean island partaking in diving and marine conservation with ReefCI and your weekends on the mainland exploring all Belize has to offer. Click here for weekend accommodations – there are recommendations for all budget levels.  Weekend accommodations are not included in the price of your trip. Cost ranges anywhere from 15 USD to 150 USD a night depending on your hotel preferences.

Weekend Activities and Tours

Besides the incredible diving and conservation experience with ReefCI, Belize has so much to explore on the weekends! From ancient ruins, jungles and nature expeditions, spelunking, repelling, ziplining, cave and river tubing, to cultural tours; there is something for everyone. You are guaranteed a trip of a lifetime in Belize!  Please click here to see what Belize has to offer on the weekends.

Individually, We Are One Drop.  Together, We Are An Ocean!

ReefCI is a registered NGO in Belize and a registered non-profit in the USA. Our work is funded through environmentally minded eco-volunteers, like yourself, who come to our unique island in Belize to assist in our marine conservation projects and protect the underwater world we love. Without your help and funding, ReefCI would not be possible. Our volunteers truly are the change they wish to see in the world.  Join us and make a difference!

Availability Schedule and Duration of Stay

We are open year-round and on all holidays except for the month of September. The typical stay with us is anywhere from 1 week to 8 weeks. Our island is a small picture-perfect Caribbean gem and our maximum number of volunteers our island can hold per week is only 18. Our groups are always small, friendly, and of like-minded people who love the ocean and conservation, which makes for great group dynamics.  But space is limited and we often reach capacity, especially during our busy season of March – August, so don’t wait too long to reserve your spot.

PADI Dive Courses Offered on the Island

Our volunteer trips are for both non-experienced and experienced divers.  Not certified?  No worries, many of our volunteers come to the island to learn to dive. Looking to further your dive credentials? Many of our volunteers come to our island to further their diving certification status. Regardless of your diving level, our island is a wonderful place to learn with calm, clear waters and little current. We swap the cold swimming pool for the Caribbean Sea and the classroom for a hammock under a palm tree!

Scuba diving certification courses have prerequisites and courses must be taken in chronological order to ensure the diver has the necessary skills and experience for the course at hand. Below is the sequential order in which scuba courses must be taken:

  1. PADI Open Water Certification (1 week stay)
  2. PADI Advanced Open Water Certification (1 week stay)
  3. PADI Rescue Diver Certification (1 week stay)
  4. PADI DiveMaster Certification (4 week minimum stay)
  5. PADI Dive Instructor (not offered on our island)

We have many dive courses available to help you develop your scuba and marine conservation skills while on the island volunteering with us. Below is the price our program charges for each PADI certification course and how long it will take you to complete the certification course on the island.

PADI Certification Courses Offered on the Island

  • PADI Open Water Certification – $175 USD (3 days)
  • PADI Advanced Open Water Certification – $225 USD (1 week)
  • PADI Rescue Diver Certification – $275 USD (1 week)
  • PADI DiveMaster Certification – $750 USD (4 week minimum stay)

PADI Specialty Certification Courses Offered on the Island

  • PADI Specialty Course: Invasive Lionfish – $125 USD (2 days)
  • PADI Specialty Course: Coral Reef Conservation – $125 USD (2 days)
  • PADI Specialty Course: Fish Identification – $125 USD (2 days)
  • PADI Specialty Course: Deep Diver – $125 USD (3 days)
  • PADI Specialty Course: Emergency First Response – $125 USD (2 days)
  • PADI Specialty Course: Underwater Photographer – $200 USD (2 days)

*Please Note: The PADI Open Water, Advanced, Rescue, Dive Master, and Underwater Photographer require the PADI eLearning prior to arrival. All other courses do NOT require the PADI eLearning prior to arrival. You must be a fully certified Open Water diver before taking any PADI Specialty Courses. You can sign up for your course at check out!

PADI Course Certification with ReefCI

In order to be certified on the island, you will need to complete the PADI eLearning portion of your course (Open Water, Advanced, Rescue, Divemaster, or Underwater Photographer) prior to your arrival to our island. PADI is the world’s leading scuba diver training organization that governs and regulates scuba standards and diver certifications. You can get started immediately with the classroom portion of your certification course and work at your own pace using the PADI eLearning system at home. With this convenient online study option, you will complete the classroom/theory portion and theory exam of your course before your arrival to the island. At the end of the eLearning program, you must print out your eRecord and bring a copy of it with you to the island. Once on the island, we will finish off the appropriate in-water diver portion of the course. PADI charges around $195 USD for the eLearning and the cost is paid to PADI via their website. We find our guests like to avoid the book work and theory portion of certification courses while on the island and this provides the best option to get in the water immediately upon arrival to our island. You must click here to register for PADI’s online eLearning and complete it before your arrival. This link will affiliate you with ReefCI and lets us know you are registered and taking the course with us. Don’t forget to print out your eRecord and bring a copy of it with you to the island upon completing the eLearning. Book a Trip Now!

PADI Course Descriptions 

PADI Open Water Diver Certification

If you’ve always wanted to take scuba diving lessons, experience unparalleled adventure and see the world beneath the waves, this is where it starts. Get your scuba diving certification with the PADI Open Water Diver course – the world’s most popular and widely recognized scuba course. At the first level, Open Water Diver, divers gain basic knowledge of skills, equipment use, and theory for diving to a recommended depth of 18 meters/60 feet. Once certified as an Open Water Diver, PADI will send you your personal Open Water license card, usually within 4 weeks via mail. This certification card allows you to dive with every PADI dive shop around the world!

PADI Advanced Open Water Diver Certification

You don’t have to be “advanced” to take it – it’s designed to advance your diving, so you can start right after earning your PADI Open Water Diver certification. The course helps build confidence and expand your scuba skills through different Adventure Dives.

Your Adventure Dives will include five of the following:

  • Deep Dive (maximum depth 30 meters/100 feet)
  • Peak Performance Buoyancy
  • Night Dive
  • Underwater Navigation
  • Fish-ID

You get to try out different specialties while gaining experience under the supervision of your PADI Instructor. The AOWD also allows the diver to explore a broader variety of diving to a maximum depth of 30 meters/100 feet.

PADI Rescue Diver Certification

The PADI Rescue Diver course prepares you to deal with dive emergencies, minor and major, using a variety of techniques. Through knowledge development and rescue exercises, you learn what to look for and how to respond. During rescue scenarios, you put into practice your knowledge and skills. The course covers the following topics in seven scenarios:

  • Self-rescue and diver stress
  • Emergency management
  • Panicked diver response
  • In-water rescue breathing protocols
  • Egress (exits)
  • Dive accident scenarios
  • CPR/First Aid

Rescue Diver Certification can be completed in one week regardless of the option you choose above.

PADI Divemaster Certification

The Dive Master Certification (DM) rating places you in an elite group of respected divers who have earned this rating through both significant experience and scuba training. Fewer than 2% of divers ever achieve this rating. The course will develop leadership skills and deepen your knowledge of diving. Prerequisite certifications include the PADI Open Water, PADI Advanced, and PADI Rescue (or equivalent certifications from another training organization). The PADI 

Divemaster Certification requires the following:

  • You must complete the PADI Divemaster eLearning before arrival to the island
  • A 4-week minimum stay on the island is required to complete all the required PADI Divemaster training dives

What is the cost of the PADI Divemaster certification course?

  • The PADI Divemaster certification course price is $750 USD which includes the PADI Divemaster Crew Pack with eLearning and all the in-person training dives on the island
  • Price does not include the 4-week minimum stay with ReefCI

Upon payment for the course, ReefCI will send you a PADI eLearning code via email to access the eLearning which must be completed prior to arrival.  With this convenient online study option, you will complete the classroom/theory portion and theory exam of your DM course before your arrival. At the end of the eLearning program, you must print out your eRecord and bring a copy of it with you to the island. Once on the island, you will receive the rest of your PADI Divemaster Crew Pack learning materials and complete the in-water training portion of the course which takes 4 weeks.

PADI Specialty Course – Invasive Lionfish

Thirty years after their accidental introduction, lionfish have conquered the Atlantic and Caribbean Oceans and are wreaking havoc on coral reef ecosystems. Unlike in its native Pacific Ocean habitats, there are no natural predators in the Atlantic and Caribbean to keep this invasive species in check. Hence, lionfish populations have exploded, gobbling up native coral reef fish that have no natural defense mechanisms against this invasive species. Lionfish threaten the very survival and sustainability of coral reef ecosystems in the Caribbean and Atlantic Oceans. Learn what action is needed to control the lionfish population and, learn practical ways to safely and humanely capture and euthanize these fish.

Prerequisite: PADI Open Water Certified and be at least 15 years old.

PADI Specialty Course – Coral Reef Conservation

Everyone likes to scuba dive or snorkel in warm, clear water on a vibrant coral reef, yet many people know little about what they’re seeing or the importance of reef ecosystems. The Coral Reef Conservation Specialty course helps you appreciate the complexity of these habitats and teaches you how you can help conserve these vital systems.

The Coral Reef Conservation specialty course will cover the following topics:

  • How coral reefs function and the complex nature of life on a reef.
  • Why coral reefs are so important.
  • Why many coral reefs are in serious trouble.
  • What you can do to prevent further decline.
  • How Project AWARE unites divers and water enthusiasts to make a difference.

No Prerequisite: Anyone who has an interest in the aquatic world can take this course. There are no prerequisites or age restrictions for this Specialty Course.

Please Note: This is a non-diving certification and no water dive sessions are required to earn this PADI Specialty.

PADI Specialty Course – Fish Identification

“What was that fish?” is a common question heard after a dive. If you want to be the scuba diver with the answers, instead of the one asking the questions, then take the Fish Identification Specialty course. You’ll enjoy your dives even more when you recognize the creatures that you see and can identify the main fish families and their characteristics. During two scuba dives, you’ll learn:

  • Identify characteristics of local fish families and species
  • Fish survey techniques and strategies
  • Project AWARE activities that can help protect aquatic life

Prerequisite: PADI Open Water Certified and be at least 10 years old.

PADI Specialty Course – Deep Diver

The lure of the deep. There’s something exciting and mysterious about exploring deeper dive sites while scuba diving. Sometimes it’s a wreck that attracts you below 18 meters/60 feet, and on wall dives it may be a giant fan or sponge. Whatever it is, to scuba dive with confidence at depths down to 40 meters/130 feet, you should take the PADI Deep Diver Specialty course. During four deep dives with your instructor, you’ll go over:

  • Specialized deep diving equipment
  • Deep dive planning, buddy contact procedures and buoyancy control
  • Managing your gas supply, dealing with gas narcosis and safety considerations

Prerequisite:  Advanced Open Water Certified and be at least 15 years old.

PADI Specialty Course – Emergency First Response (EFR)

Emergency First Response training focuses on building confidence in rescuers and increasing their willingness to respond when faced with a medical emergency. Course participants learn simple to follow steps for emergency care and practice applying skills in a non-stressful learning environment.

The EFR Specialty Course meets the CPR and first aid training requirements for the PADI Rescue Diver course and all professional-level ratings. The following EFR topics will be covered:

  • Primary Care (CPR)
  • Secondary Care (First Aid)
  • Care for Children
  • CPR & AED

No Prerequisite: Anyone who has an interest in emergency first response can take this course. There are no prerequisites or age restrictions for this Specialty Course.

Please Note: This is a non-diving certification and no water dive sessions are required to earn this PADI Specialty.

PADI Specialty Course – Underwater Photographer

Underwater photography is one of the most popular diving specialties, and with so many underwater cameras to choose from, it has become easier and more fun than ever to capture images of your underwater scuba adventures. The PADI Digital Underwater Photographer course gets you going quickly, whether you use a point-and-shoot camera or a sophisticated dSLR like the pros.

Prerequisite: Open Water Certified

Please Note: This PADI Specialty requires the PADI eLearning course: Digital Underwater Photographer. This must be completed prior to arrival. No camera is required. We have all the equipment one needs to complete this PADI Specialty successfully.

So if you want to take part in our Marine Biology Internship in Belize. Reef Conservation International is one of the largest and best value Marine Biology Internship organizations in all of Belize. There are many companies out there selling our program but now you can book it directly through ReefCI! Book a Trip Now!