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Featured In The Media Articles

Blue Ventures is featured in Tusk Trust's Tusk Talk magazine
18th July 2014
Aire marine protégée - De nouvelles règles d’exploitation en vue
2nd July 2014
Blue Ventures' Jennifer Chapman talks about lionfish on Love FM's Making Waves radio show
16th April 2014


We work with journalists, news agencies and the world’s media to communicate our work, and to tell the human story of conservation through the eyes and voices of the traditional fishers.
Chapman, J.K.. 2014. Blue Ventures Conservation Report
Published in Conservation reports
Radio - Lee Mcloughlin-cropped

16th April 2014, Belize: In April Jennifer Chapman, Belize Country Coordinator, appeared on LoveFM's Making Waves radio show, where she talked about the lionfish invasion

Tuesday, 29 April 2014 11:01

2 or 4 week Belize Community Expedition


Blue Ventures is launching a community expedition in Belize starting in June 2014!

Join one of these new 2 or 4 week expeditions and contribute to our community development projects. Join our expeditions team at our beautiful site in the coastal village of Sarteneja in order to:

• Collaborate with community groups to develop projects and provide training
• Work with local schools as part of Blue Ventures educational activities and assist in adult learning programmes
• Assist directly with lionfish market development through public events such as workshops and festivals
• Immerse yourself in the diverse culture of northern Belize and learn Spanish with your homestay family



Education4


Community development projects, outreach and education are key elements of Blue Ventures' work in Belize. The Belize community expeditions allow volunteers to join our team and contribute to our efforts to provide education and training to support the development of alternative livelihood projects.

The community expedition is led by our Community Officer, Silvia Parmeggiani. The projects that you will work on include:

Training and technical support for partner organisations


Blue Ventures works with three community partners; the Sarteneja Fishermen Association, the Sarteneja Alliance for Conservation and Development and the Sarteneja Homestay Group. Our support for these organisations includes English language, management, administration, IT, marketing and accounting skills with the groups' members.

Training and skills development for school children and young adults


A key aim of our work with the communities of northern Belize is to assist in the development of young people's leadership and critical thinking skills, which will allow them to play an active role in marine conservation in the future. All of our educational work enhances group working skills, critical thinking and public speaking, encouraging children to develop and discuss their own ideas.
Education3

Supporting alternative livelihood programmes.


One of our main interests is to support alternative livelihood programs, as the village of Sarteneja has identified a need for job diversification. This is due to the decline of traditional fisheries as fishing pressure increases on the main target species of conch and lobster. The Sarteneja Homestay Group and Tour Guides Association are two of the local initiatives that have been established to offer alternative livelihoods. Blue Ventures works with both organisations.

Invasive Lionfish: Campaigning for Change


The Belize Lionfish Management Plan has identified the need to establish a local and international market for lionfish and identifies this aim as the most likely means of controlling invasive lionfish populations. Working with fishers and exporters to market the product and promoting lionfish consumption not only helps removal efforts, but also provides an alternative fishery, alleviating pressures of overexploitation of native fish stocks and providing additional revenue for fishers. As part of our lionfish invasive species work, Blue Ventures holds information events around the country, with lionfish education booths, lionfish preparation demonstrations and lionfish handling workshops.

At these events, Blue Ventures’ staff and volunteers work alongside local restaurants and artisans to raise awareness of the lionfish threat and the potential of the species as an alternative target species. We also sell and promote lionfish products such as jewellery made from lionfish spines. In the month of June Blue Ventures supports the annual lionfish tournament held in Placencia, southern Belize and Belize Community Expedition volunteers will join our team at the event.

Lionfish1

Itinerary for Expedition 1 and 2


We are running two pilot expeditions (1 and 2) in the coming months and the activities you should expect to be involved in are listed in the schedule below. The main difference to be aware of is that during Expedition 1, volunteers will be involved in the organisation and implementation of the Placencia lionfish tournament, held every year during the Placencia LobsterFest (27-29 June 2014).

The aim of the tournament is to promote lionfish as an alternative target species during the annual celebration of the re-opening of the lobster season and also provides a population control mechanism within local marine protected areas, where traditional fishing is restricted. Placencia, one of Belize’s primary tourist hubs, is a popular diving destination and has a fishing community where the local cooperative is working with Blue Ventures to establish sustainable fishing practices and develop lionfish as a target species for local and international consumption. Volunteers will assist in the outreach activities at Blue Ventures' lionfish information booth, help at the tournament receiving station, collecting culling effort data (weight, length, sex and stomach contents) and at the same time have the opportunity to attend one of Belize's biggest festivals. 

Expedition 1 Expedition 2Activities
3 - 9 June 12 - 18 July
  • Introduction to Blue Ventures, Belize and all outreach and educational programmes
  • Scientific lectures – background on lionfish invasion and market development strategy
  • Visits of the village and its community based organisations
10 - 23 June 19 July - 8 Aug
  • Detailed project briefing and training
  • Educational and capacity building activities and training (computer skills, English language lessons, social media workshops, creative writing, theatre and environmental education workshops)
  • Adult learning programmes, mainly directed at women (English, computer classes and capacity building for alternative livelihood program development)
  • Feedback with partners and stakeholders and review of all activities
24 - 30 June NA
  • Placencia LobsterFest, including Lionfish tournament and information events

Dates and costs

Belize Community Expedition 1 (4 weeks) - £1,200 from 3 - 30 June 2014
Belize Community Expedition 2 (2 weeks) - £600 from 12 - 26 July 2014
Belize Community Expedition 2 (4 weeks) - £1,100 from 12 July - 8 Aug 2014

Included in the cost:

  • Accommodation for the duration of your stay in a Belizean family home (Homestay) whilst in Sarteneja
  • Accommodation for the duration of your stay in a hostel whilst in Placencia, if applicable
  • Three meals per day including drinks whilst in Sarteneja - all meals are prepared by your Homestay family
  • Three meals per day not including drinks whilst in Placencia at local restaurant or homestay association provider
  • Project training with our team
  • Comprehensive logistical support and pastoral care from team of permanent staff
  • Health and safety briefings from our expedition team

Not included in the cost:

  • International flights (the nearest international airports are Belize City and Cancun in Mexico)
  • Domestic travel to San Pedro; there is a regular water taxi from Belize City
  • Entry visa for Belize
  • Malaria prophylaxis and vaccinations
  • Travel insurance
  • Spending money for drinks, snacks and souvenirs
  • Hotel accommodation before or after your expedition dates

Next steps

Check out these FAQs for more details abour our Belize expeditions or get in touch with This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. , our UK-based expeditions coordinator, who will be happy to answer all of your questions. When you're ready, you can apply for your expedition here.

 

Published in Belize
lionfish

27 September, 2013: Belize Fights Back Against an Uninvited Guest is featured on National Geographic's Ocean Views. 

Monday, 07 October 2013 11:15

7 or 9 day lionfish projects

If you're looking for more than just a dive holiday or a short break, then our lionfish project in Belize could be perfect for you! Join our expeditions team at our beautiful dive camp in the Bacalar Chico Marine Reserve in order to:

  • Improve your dive skills
  • Learn about the marine environment
  • Survey, hunt and dissect invasive lionfish
  • Contribute to valuable research and direct efforts to protect Belize's stunning reefs


"If you truly want a unique and adventurous experience, you need to put this on your list of things to do." - Jeff Gillam, United States

lionfish photo
Since March 2010, we have been conducting coral reef monitoring and research in the Bacalar Chico Marine Reserve, filling a much-needed data gap for one of the most remote marine protected areas in Belize. One of the focuses of our research is investigating the impact of lionfish on the world heritage listed Belize Barrier Reef and on juvenile reef fish, as this invasive species has no native predators outside its original home in the Indo-Pacific, and therefore poses a huge threat to Belize's reef fisheries. 

Join us in the Bacalar Chico Marine Reserve to assist with this research monitoring the progression of the lionfish invasion in Belize, and directly contribute to efforts to combat its spread through participating in lionfish culls while scuba diving. 


Our lionfish project volunteers are based at our remote dive camp in the Bacalar Chico Marine Reserve, which is a large, palm-studded island shouldered by white beaches and backed by mangroves that fade to the west into Corozal Bay. Volunteers love the communal bungalows that face out onto the Caribbean sea!


"The BV team at Belize site were very engaged and made us all feel the excitement of the lion fish expedition. I learned much from the team and their attention to safe diving practices was always at the forefront of every dive. I would recommend a 2 week mission as it would give you more time for lion fish surveys, the exciting culling of lion fish and taking the bio data from each fish. I would highly recommend a volunteer adventure at BV Belize site." - Bill Battersby, United States

Bacalar Chico Dive Camp
Our lionfish project volunteers receive training about invasive lionfish, their behaviour, competitors and prey. They also learn about marine megafauna, sighted frequently on dives and recorded to monitor abundance. In-water training includes lionfish detection practice and safe, environmentally-sound methods for hunting and removing lionfish from coral reefs.

The survey data collected by volunteers is used to monitor the progression of the lionfish invasion, population status, diet and reproductive rates, as well as to test hypotheses on specific impacts and recommendations for management. 

Lionfish Tournament Hagan

There are so many advantages of joining us at Bacalar Chico for this lionfish project as opposed to going on a normal diving holiday! If you're a scuba diver who wants to understand more about marine ecology then this trip is a fantastic way to learn, contribute to our research and most importantly assist with protecting the stunning coral reefs that you'll be diving in. 

If all of this isn't enough, it’s a great way to meet a diverse group of like-minded people from all over the world, and during your time off enjoy snorkelling, beach sports and other fun activities!

Bacalar Chico Dive Camp


We require all participants for this short dive trip to have at least a PADI Advanced Open Water (or equivalent) certification, but this can be completed at your local dive centre if you're not already qualified, or during a standard expedition with us beforehand.

The expedition is 7 or 9 days including the arrival and departure days, and the pick-up and drop-off point is the town of San Pedro, which is less than two hours by boat from Belize City and our dive camp in Bacalar Chico.

Day 7 day trip in mid May 2014 7 day trip in late May 2014Activities
1 Sat 17 May Sat 24 May Meet at San Pedro and transfer to Bacalar Chico Dive Camp – introductory briefings
2 Sun 18 May Sun 25 May Science lectures - background, monitoring methods, marine megafauna
Tune-up dive
Lionfish survey training dive 1 
3 Mon 19 May Mon 26 May Science lectures - background, monitoring methods, marine megafauna 
Lionfish survey training dives 2 & 3
4 Tues 20 May Tue 27 May Lionfish population survey dive 1
Lionfish culling dives 1-3
Lionfish dissections 
(San Pedro resupply run)
5 Wed 21 May Wed 28 May Lionfish population survey dives 2-4
6 Thurs 22 May Thurs 29 May Lionfish population survey dives 5 & 6
Lionfish culling dives 4-6
Lionfish dissections
Review week's findings 
7 Fri 23 May Fri 30 May Depart for San Pedro for onwards travel
Day9 Day trip 
in mid Sept 2014
Activities
1 Sat 13 Sep Meet at San Pedro and transfer to Bacalar Chico Dive Camp – introductory briefings
2 Sun 14 Sep Science lectures - background, monitoring methods, marine megafauna 
Tune-up dive
Lionfish survey training dive 1 
3 Mon 15 Sep Science lectures - background, monitoring methods, marine megafauna 
Lionfish survey training dives 2 & 3
4 Tues 16 Sep Lionfish population survey dive 1
Lionfish culling dives 1-3
Lionfish dissections 
(San Pedro resupply run)
5 Wed 17 Sep Lionfish population survey dives 2-4
Lionfish dissections
Assist with preparing outreach activities
6 Thurs 18 Sep Lionfish population survey dives 5-7
Lionfish culling dives 4-6
(San Pedro resupply run)
7 Fri 19 Sep Lionfish population survey dives 8-10
Lionfish culling dives 7-9
Lionfish dissections
8 Sat 20 Sep Lionfish culling dives 10-12 
Review week's findings and assist with preparing outreach activities 
9 Sun 21 Sep Depart for San Pedro for onwards travel

Costs

7 days: £600, discount for volunteer medics

9 days: £850, discount for volunteer medics

16 days: £1,350, discount for volunteer medics

Included in the cost:

  • Accommodation for the duration of your stay in beach-front eco-cabins with a maximum of four volunteers per cabin
  • Three meals per day including tea and coffee at breakfast and lunch - all meals are prepared by local chefs using fresh local ingredients
  • Transfers between San Pedro and our dive camp at Bacalar Chico at the beginning and end of the week
  • Science training with our team of field scientists and researchers
  • PADI scuba tune-up course with dive instructor on arrival
  • Scuba diving
  • Use of our scuba diving equipment including buoyancy control devices (BCDs), regulators, weights and cylinders
  • Comprehensive logistical support and pastoral care from our large team of permanent field staff
  • Health and safety briefings from our expedition medics and dive managers

Not included in the cost:

  • International flights (the nearest international airports are Belize City and Cancun in Mexico)
  • Domestic travel to San Pedro; there is a regular water taxi from Belize City
  • Entry visa for Belize
  • Malaria prophylaxis and vaccinations
  • Travel and dive insurance
  • Personal diving equipment: wetsuit, mask, snorkel, fins, watch or dive computer, delayed surface marker buoy, dive torch and underwater slate
  • Personal field equipment: sleeping bag, torch, mosquito net
  • Scuba diving training manuals
  • Spending money for drinks, snacks and souvenirs
  • Hotel accommodation before or after your expedition dates

Next steps

Check out these FAQs for more details abour our Belize expeditions or get in touch with This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. , our UK-based expeditions coordinator, who will be happy to answer all of your questions. When you're ready, you can apply here.

Published in Belize
Tuesday, 13 August 2013 14:38

Invasive species

Lionfisheries – stimulating a new market for invasive species 

Lionfish, native to the Indo-Pacific, were accidentally released into the Atlantic in the 1980s and first documented in Belizean waters in 2008. 

Published in Conservation

9th July 2013, Placencia, Belize - Along Belize's world heritage site-listed barrier reef, coastal communities are making waves in fight against a rapacious predator.

Tuesday, 13 December 2011 18:59

Volunteer expeditions in Belize

Join one of our marine conservation expeditions in Belize!

• Immerse yourself in Belize's stunning coral reefs and diverse coastal cultures 
• Assist with rigorous underwater research alongside our marine biologists and gain scuba diving qualifications
• Participate in our community education and conservation initiatives

"I would highly recommend an expedition with Blue Ventures - the diving was awesome and I met some fabulous people! The locals in Belize made me feel so welcome and I was very sad to leave." - Sandra Cheung, United Kingdom

Based in the fishing village of Sarteneja and the Bacalar Chico Marine Reserve, our diving expeditions offer volunteers from around the world a unique opportunity to get involved with Blue Ventures' marine research and conservation work. The Blue Ventures' dive camp in Bacalar Chico Marine Reserve is on Ambergris Caye an island that was recenltly voted the best island in the world in the Trip Advisor 2014 Travellers' Choice Awards!

Bacalar Chico Dive Camp

Join our team surveying the second largest barrier reef in the world (a UNESCO Natural World Heritage Site), and contribute to our efforts to conserve this spectacular ecosystem, including combating the threat of invasive lionfish.

Volunteers are immersed in the full breadth of Blue Ventures' programmes in Belize, including underwater marine research at our dive camp in Bacalar Chico and environmental education with local children in the seaside village of Sarteneja.

"My expedition was one of the most memorable and important experiences of my life. Your ideas are valued, your participation is appreciated, and English teaching at the local school is received with great enthusiasm." - Monika Calitz, United States 

Education3
From gap year students and university graduates to career breakers and retirees, our expeditions attract a diverse range of people from around the world, who share an interest in diving with the purpose of supporting our marine research and conservation work.

All of our volunteers complete an intensive two-week science training programme run by our field scientists at the beginning of each expedition, involving numerous snorkelling and diving excursions as well as informal lectures, small group discussions and practical exercises on coral and fish species identification. 

"Being able to identify so many coral and fish species has opened up an entirely new underwater world to me!" - Suzie Nott, United Kingdom

diving-belize-web
Both qualified and non-qualified divers are welcome to join our expeditions, with the PADI Advanced Open Water course offered to those without this qualification, including a Peak Performance Buoyancy adventure dive. Dive training is carried out during the first three weeks of expeditions, so that all volunteers are qualified to participate in underwater surveys once they have successfully completed their science training.

"The diving expertise of Blue Ventures' staff is excellent and I now feel more confident in the water."
 - Jodi Burley, Australia 

Experienced divers who have not dived in the six months prior to their expedition are required to take a refresher course with us, to ensure that they are confident and well trained. We also offer the PADI Emergency First Response, Rescue Diver and Dive Master courses for those who wish to advance their diving qualifications.

Bacalar Chico Dive Camp
Our volunteers in Belize split their time between the fishing village of Sarteneja (during the first and last weeks of their expedition) in local homestay accommodation, and our beautiful dive camp in the Bacalar Chico Marine Reserve (during the middle four weeks of their expedition) in beach-front bungalows. Volunteers are given regular Spanish lessons by our staff, and staying with local families in Sarteneja provides the perfect opportunity for language learning exchange!

Located on the shore of the Corozal Bay Wildlife Sanctuary, Sarteneja is the largest fishing community in Belize, near to the spectacular Shipstern Nature Reserve where our volunteers spend time experiencing the flora and fauna through day and night walks. The Bacalar Chico Marine Reserve is a large, palm-studded island shouldered by white beaches and backed by mangroves that fade to the west into Corozal Bay. Our volunteers love the communal bungalows that face out onto the Caribbean sea!

BCDC new huts
In their spare time at our base in Bacalar Chico, our expedition volunteers can be found exploring the mangroves, playing games on the beach, snorkelling or relaxing in their hammocks. While in Sarteneja, there are opportunities to visit nearby Mayan ruins and the Shipstern Nature Reserve.


You can use the interactive map below to zoom in and out of the region, including Sarteneja and the Bacalar Chico Marine Reserve:

Turtles, rays, nurse sharks, dolphins and giant moray eels are all regularly spotted on dives, and manatees are frequently spotted in the mangroves between November and January. Bacalar Chico National Park and Marine Reserve is also a nesting site for many birds, including rosetate spoonbills, white ibis, boat-billed herons and magnificent frigate birds.

Manatees (grazing marine mammals, living in shallow water where seagrass is the dominant vegetation) are common in the shallow waters between the Belize mainland and the barrier reef. Manatees are one of the flagship species of Corazol Bay Wildlife Sanctuary, and we help to gather opportunistic sightings data and monitor their activity at resting holes.

Every six weeks a new group of volunteers arrive at our site, ensuring year-round sustainability of our marine research. We host an average of 10-14 volunteers per expedition, and we never have more than three volunteers per staff member.


"What I learned and felt during my expedition with Blue Ventures helped propel me to and through a graduate degree in Marine Science. The people and places I experienced through BV were a wonderful start to my journey towards becoming a published scientist.
If I ever have kids, I'll be sending them on a trip with you guys some day."
- Geoff Hensgen, United Kingdom

Lionfish

As is the case throughout the Caribbean, invasive lionfish are threatening to decimate populations of juvenile fish in Belize's coral reefs. Blue Ventures is working with local fishers and seafood buyers to combat this threat by stimulating new markets for lionfish, as a way of increasing removals, diversifying traditional fisheries and reducing their impact upon native fish populations. 

We also conduct research that includes culling and dissecting lionfish to investigate their reproductive status and feeding patterns. In 2014, we launched a short lionfish dive trip that offers divers the chance to contribute to this research, and participate in licensed culls of invasive lionfish. 

Our team

Heading up our team in Belize is Jen, our country coordinator, who first started with us as a field scientist back in 2011! Shawn is our expeditions manager, a qualified and experienced PADI instructor responsible for coordinating dive activities and training. Research undertaken by expedition volunteers is managed and supervised by Winnie and Meira, our field scientists, who are tropical marine biologists, responsible for delivering science training at the beginning of each expedition.

The health and well-being of our volunteers is looked after by our expedition medics, who are trained medical personnel that join our expeditions and are available at all times on site in case of accident or emergency. Our community officer, Silvia, facilitates all of the environmental education activities that volunteers get involved with in Sarteneja.

Dates

Expedition start dateExpedition end dateStatus
7-Jun-14 18-Jul-14 6 week marine conservation expedition - Full
12-Jul-14 26-Jul-14 NEW 2 week Belize community expedition - spaces
12-July-14 8-Aug-14 NEW 4 week Belize community expedition - spaces
26-Jul-14 5-Sep-14 6 week marine conservation expedition - last few spaces
13-Sep-14 21-Sep-14 NEW 9 day lionfish project - spaces
26-Sep-14 6-Nov-14 6 week marine conservation expedition - spaces
2-Nov-14 7-Nov-14 Private group trip - full
10-Nov-14 21-Dec-14 6 week marine conservation expedition - spaces
5-Jan-15 15-Feb-15 6 week marine conservation expedition - spaces
24-Feb-15 6-Apr-15 6 week marine conservation expedition - spaces
10-Apr-15 21-May-15 6 week marine conservation expedition - spaces
25-May-15 7-Jun-15 Private group trip - full
13-Jun-15 19-June-15 and 28-Jun-15 7 and 16 day Lionfish project - spaces
22-Jun-15 3-Jul-15 Private group trip - full
6-Jul-15 19-Jul-15 Private group trip - full
3-Aug-15 12-Sep-15 6 week marine conservation expedition - spaces
19-Sep-15 27-Oct-15 6 week marine conservation expedition- spaces
31-Oct-15 6-Nov-15 7 and 16 day Lionfish project - spaces
10-Nov-15 21-Dec-15 6 week marine conservation expedition- spaces

Costs (as at 1st July 2014)

Expedition prices vary according to your current diving qualification and length of stay in Belize. Half of our volunteers have never dived before and our PADI dive courses represent excellent value for money.

Expedition lengthYou are a PADI Advanced Open water (or equivalent) diverYou are a PADI Open Water (or equivalent) diverYou have no diving certificationNon-diving under 17
(accompanied by an adult)
Expedition medic
7 day lionfish project £600 NA NA   £500
9 day lionfish project £850 NA NA   £650
16 day Lionfish project £1,350 NA NA   £1,100
2 week community expedition £600 NA NA £500 £500
4 week community expedition £1,100 to £1,200 NA NA £1,000 £1,000
3 weeks £1,950 £2,050 £2,150 £950  
4 weeks £2,150 £2,250 £2,350 £1,150  
5 weeks £2,350 £2,450 £2,550 £1,250  
6 weeks £2,525 £2,625 £2,725 £1,400 £1,850*
7 weeks £2,825 £2,925 £3,025 £1,600  
8 weeks £3,125 £3,225 £3,325 £1,800  
9 weeks £3,425 £3,525 £3,625 £2,000  
10 weeks £3,725 £3,825 £3,925 £2,200  
11 weeks £4,025 £4,125 £4,225 £2,400  
12 weeks £4,325 £4,425 £4,525 £2,600 £3,000*
12+ weeks £300 per additional week £300 per additional week £300 per additional week £200 per additional week

£4,200* (18 weeks)

    Please see our Belize expedition dates and costs page for precise details about what is and is not included in these prices.

    * Discounts are given for trained medical personnel fulfilling the role of expedition medic. Find out more here but please note that additional costs apply for dive courses (PADI Open Water - £100 and PADI Advanced Open Water - £75).

    Next steps

    Download our guide for more information about our expeditions, check out these FAQs or get in touch with This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. , our UK-based expeditions coordinator, who will be happy to answer all of your questions. When you're ready, you can apply here.
     

    Gallery

     

    Published in Belize