Exploring island life by Belize volunteer Emma Muench
LIVING IN A MARINE RESERVE
Bacalar Chico Dive Camp (BCDC), Blue Ventures’ base in the Bacalar Chico Marine Reserve, is a true island paradise! During my time there as a marine conservation volunteer I loved being surrounded by mangroves and forest on the one side and white sandy beach and blue sea on the other, not to mention the beautiful sunrises every morning that made waking up for early dives totally worth it.
ESCAPE FROM THE CITY
I also really enjoyed the remoteness of BCDC. Being cut off from the outside world and escaping the busy city life was refreshing. The lack of internet and telephone signal forced everyone to put their phones away, leaving a lot more time for socializing, playing games and just having a great time with great people.
SURROUNDED BY NATURE
No matter where you looked, you were surrounded by nature and animals, whether that was the crabs that scurried around the beach, the iguanas that bobbed their heads in a display of territoriality or the many pelicans and magnificent frigate birds that would fly over our cabanas every day.
Diving almost every day for a month was incredible! I loved exploring and surveying new dive sites on both the fore reef and the back reef. The wildlife encounters at my favourite dive site, Fito’s Secret Wall, were definitely the highlight of my time at BCDC!
When diving there you were almost guaranteed to come across some sort of megafauna, whether that was a hawksbill turtle doing a fly by during our safety stop, a nurse shark resting on the sea floor or a stunning spotted eagle ray circling around us. Experiencing all of this with my friends at camp made it even more memorable!
As a young conservation biologist looking to learn more about the marine environment, I found the science training extremely exciting and rewarding. Studying the ecology of the Mesoamerican Reef and the effects of the invasive lionfish on its fish population was fascinating, and enabled us to understand the context of our underwater surveys. Knowing that the data we collected would play a part in the research and conservation of this fragile ecosystem made all our efforts seem worthwhile.
I WILL RETURN!
I would absolutely recommend this expedition to any aspiring marine conservationist or anyone interested in gaining some fieldwork and research experience in a beautiful, tropical location. I really miss the island life and would love to go back one day!
FOOTNOTES:All photos not credited in their caption were taken by Emma Muench. Follow her on instagram for more amazing photos: @emmamuench Banner photo is by Tom Nuttal-Smith
Blue Ventures rebuilds tropical fisheries with coastal communities. Our conservation models are designed to demonstrate that effective management improves food security and makes economic sense.
We support coastal communities to share their experiences so that they can learn from each other and develop grassroots marine conservation movements. In this way we aim to reach over 3 million people by 2020.