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Bottlenose Dolphin Tracking in Belize

Program Number: 3561RJ
Start and End Dates:
2/24/2014 - 3/5/2014;
Duration: 9 nights
Location: Belize
Price starting at: $2,598.00 - Price may vary based on date, departure city
Program Type: Service Learning Activity Level: t (see description)
Meals: 26; 9 Breakfasts, 8 Lunches, 9 Dinners    
Meal Options: Vegetarian; Low Salt    

From the bow of the boat, smooth gray dolphins are so close you can almost touch them! For the rest of the afternoon, you observe the dolphin pod swimming and feeding between mangrove islands, seagrass beds and coral reefs. In association with the Oceanic Society, contribute to an ongoing study of Belize’s unique bottlenose dolphin population as you assist researchers documenting their ecological behavior. Observe patterns feeding, socializing and resting, and document their habitat use as part of an initiative to declare the atoll a biosphere reserve.




Highlights

• Special research permits allow volunteers to closely approach dolphins in order to obtain identification photos and biological data.
• Identify individual bottlenose dolphins and witness dolphin activity over several days.
• Full day excursion day to Lighthouse Reef Atoll for snorkeling the rim of the famous Blue Hole, visiting a seabird sanctuary at Half Moon Caye.



Activity Particulars

Participants must be able to swim. All boats have a swim ladder and protection from the sun. Boarding and disembarking vessels requires some agility. This program primarily involves dolphin observation from small boats within the atoll. Under specific conditions including the behavior of the dolphins, weather conditions and sea conditions, the researcher will determine if it is appropriate for swimmers to enter the water in order to assist with determining the sex of individual dolphins.



Due to the nature of this program, listening devices are not available.




Date Specific Information

2-24-2014

Participant must arrive in Belize City by 2:30pm in order to catch boat departing for the island.



Itinerary Summary

Arrivals Belize City, Blackbird Caye, 9 nights; departure Belize City.



Arrival Belize City
Boat to Blackbird Caye
9 nights
Boat to Belize City for departure.

English-speaking Belize boasts the world's second-largest barrier reef and unique habitats for marine wildlife. Blackbird Caye lies amid coral islets in pristine Turneffe Atoll. Working in small teams, you study the behavioral ecology of bottlenose dolphins, their habitat use, social behavior and foraging strategies. With biologists and researchers as daily guides, you and fellow volunteers contribute to the important study as you record behavior, collect acoustic sounds, identify individual animals and plot location. Lectures discuss dolphin biology, coral reef ecology and natural history of the cayes.




Belize

Before it was colonized as “British Honouras,” Belize flourished as a stronghold of the Maya civilization. Today, the country celebrates this unique heritage while sharing in Central American and Caribbean identities. Its tropical climate supports the country’s rich biodiversity, while its coastline along the Caribbean Sea offers access to the second-longest coral reef system in the world.



Accommodations
Private island setting with beachfront cabanas, classroom with lab and dining palapa.
Meals and Lodgings
   Oceanic Society Blackbird Caye Field Station
  Blackbird Caye, Turneffe Atoll, Belize
In Flight
10 nights
 Oceanic Society Blackbird Caye Field Station
Type: Field Station
  Description: Beachfront cabanas each with a porch facing the Caribbean Sea.
  Ship Information: 23' research/excursion vessels with canopy top and vertical swim ladder.
  Contact info: Blackbird Caye, Turneffe Atoll, Belize
Belize City,   Belize
phone: +8003267491
web: www.oceanicsociety.org
  Room amenities: Small storage closet, fan, 110 AC electrical plugs (powered by generator)
  Facility amenities: Double occupancy cabanas (2 singles available), private baths, comfortable with basic amenities, lovely dining palapa
  Smoking allowed: No
  Additional nights prior: Variable. Optional extensions available for snorkeling, scuba diving, or to see Mayan ruins, mainland of Belize.
  Check in time: 3:00 PM
  Additional nights after: Variable. Optional extensions available for snorkeling, scuba diving, or to see Mayan ruins, mainland of Belize.
  Check out time: 12:00 PM


Travel Details
  Start of Program:
Check-in at the Princess Hotel marina located at Kings Park at 3:00 pm for a 4:00 pm departure. Arrive at Blackbird Field Station at 5:30 pm. You will be staying at Oceanic Society Blackbird Caye Field Station that night.
  End of Program:
Early morning departure from Blackbird Field Station to the Princess Hotel marina, arriving at 10:00 am. You will be staying at Oceanic Society Blackbird Caye Field Station the night before.
  Required documents:
The Road Scholar Health & Safety Form is required. All tourist and non-Belizean citizens are required to pay an exit fee of $39.25. As of October 2010, all U.S. airlines include this fee in the price of the ticket. If you are flying an international carrier, check with your airline to make sure your ticket cost includes this fee. If it is not included, you will need to allow extra time to pay the fee at the airport when you are departing Belize.
  Parking availability:
Not applicable
Transportation (For Independent Travelers)
To Start of Program
  Location:  Blackbird Caye, Turneffe Atoll
  Nearest city or town:  Belize City
  Nearest highway: not applicable
  Nearest airport:  Belize City (BZE)
  Transportation to site: Your flight should be scheduled to arrive before 2:30 pm on the day of your arrival. Upon arrival in Belize City, if you are not traveling on the group transfer, you can take a taxi from the airport to the Princess Hotel. The Princess Hotel is located at Kings Park, about 30 minutes from the airport. At 3:00 pm, go to the Marina behind the hotel where an Oceanic Society representative will meet you at the dock for boarding. Check-in begins at 3:00 pm; the vessel departs at 4:00 pm. If you have made your own flight arrangements, the Oceanic Society can make arrangements for your ground transfer at an additional cost.
  From End of Program
  Location: Blackbird Caye, Turneffe Atoll
  Transportation from site: Please make sure your flight departs after 12:00 pm (noon) on the day of your departure. An early morning boat transfer will take you back to the Princess Hotel Marina. Upon arrival, ground transportation will meet you to transfer you to the airport. If you made your own flight arrangements, the Princess Hotel can arrange for a taxi or the Oceanic Society can arrange ground transfer for you ahead of time for an additional cost.
    (Additional transportation information same as above)
Equipment Requirements: You will need to bring your own mask, fins and snorkel.
The prices listed for commercial services and facilities that are not included in the program cost, such as airport shuttles or extra nights lodging, are subject to change without notice. Since Road Scholar cannot guarantee the accuracy of these prices, we strongly suggest contacting the companies directly for the most up-to-date information.


Daily Schedule

Day 1:
(Monday, February 24)
   
 Arrive To: 90-minute boat transfer to Oceanic Society Blackbird Caye Field Station, Turneffe Atoll at approximately 5:30 pm.
 Dinner: A buffet or family style dinner at the field station "palapa" (a large meeting room with a spacious dining area). Enjoy a Belizean meal with an emphasis on rice, vegetables, beans and chicken. Tea, coffee and juice are offered and canned beverages and soft drinks are for sale at US $2 - $3, cash only.
   
Accommodations: Oceanic Society Blackbird Caye Field Station
Meals Included: Dinner

Day 2:
(Tuesday, February 25)
   
 Breakfast: A buffet or family style Belizean breakfast served with tea, coffee and juice served daily in the field station dining palapa.
 Morning: Presentation on dolphin research goals and objectives, methods and on use of research equipment. Late morning snorkel check out from the beach for individuals wishing to snorkel during scheduled snorkel excursions. Individuals not wishing to snorkel can enjoy beachcombing and relaxing at their beachfront cabana.
 Lunch: A buffet or family style Belizean lunch in the field station palapa. Tea, coffee and juice are offered and canned beverages and soft drinks are for sale at US $2 - $3, cash only.
 Afternoon: Afternoon short boat excursions to research site within atoll. Test field equipment such as wind gage, GPS, water temperature gage, etc. Start first dolphin survey and assist researcher with data collection.
 Dinner: Dinner at the field station palapa.
 Evening: Lecture on Dolphin Biology
   
Accommodations: Oceanic Society Blackbird Caye Field Station
Meals Included: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Day 3:
(Wednesday, February 26)
   
 Breakfast: Breakfast at the field station palapa.
 Morning: Morning short boat excursion to lagoon. Observe birds as we motor slowly through mangrove creeks. Search for dolphins and record their behavior.
 Lunch: Lunch at the field station palapa.
 Afternoon: Reef snorkeling excursion to observe tropical fish and corals at one of the dolphins' habitats
 Dinner: Dinner at the field station palapa.
 Evening: Evening lectures, presentations, discussion sessions.
   
Accommodations: Oceanic Society Blackbird Caye Field Station
Meals Included: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Day 4:
(Thursday, February 27)
   
 Breakfast: Breakfast at the field station palapa.
 Morning: Morning boat excursions to known dolphin hot spots to collect data.
 Lunch: Lunch at the field station palapa.
 Afternoon: Afternoon boat excursions to nearby channel often used by dolphin for entering and existing the atoll. Good visibility might offer us the chance enter the water at the researcher's discretion in order to observe dolphins underwater.
 Dinner: Dinner at the field station palapa.
 Evening: Evening lectures, presentations, discussion sessions
   
Accommodations: Oceanic Society Blackbird Caye Field Station
Meals Included: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Day 5:
(Friday, February 28)
   
 Breakfast: Breakfast at the field station palapa.
 Morning: Field trip to meet local fishermen and learn about island life. Enjoy coconut collection and processing demonstration.
 Lunch: Lunch at the field station palapa.
 Afternoon: Afternoon boat excursions to different research site within the atoll to collect data.
 Dinner: Dinner at the field station palapa.
 Evening: Evening lectures, presentations, discussion sessions
   
Accommodations: Oceanic Society Blackbird Caye Field Station
Meals Included: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Day 6:
(Saturday, March 1)
   
 Breakfast: Breakfast at the field station palapa.
 Morning: Morning Field trip to the University of Belize nearby research station. Meet staff and learn about ecosystem research.
 Lunch: Lunch at the field station palapa.
 Afternoon: Afternoon boat excursions to research sites for data collection.
 Dinner: Dinner at the field station palapa.
 Evening: Evening lectures, presentations, discussion sessions
   
Accommodations: Oceanic Society Blackbird Caye Field Station
Meals Included: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Day 7:
(Sunday, March 2)
   
 Breakfast: Breakfast at the field station palapa.
 Morning: Morning visit on of the dolphins favorite feeding sites, known for large schools of snapper, and large star fish found on the sandy bottom.
 Lunch: Lunch at the field station palapa.
 Afternoon: Afternoon boat excursions to research sites for data collection.
 Dinner: Dinner at the field station palapa.
 Evening: Evening lectures, presentations, discussion sessions
   
Accommodations: Oceanic Society Blackbird Caye Field Station
Meals Included: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Day 8:
(Monday, March 3)
   
 Breakfast: Breakfast at the field station palapa.
 Morning: Morning boat excursions to visit one of the dolphin hot spots for data collection.
 Lunch: Lunch at the field station palapa.
 Afternoon: Excursion to the west side of the atoll to search not only for dolphins but also for manatees who are known to frequent the area.
 Dinner: Dinner at the field station palapa.
   
Accommodations: Oceanic Society Blackbird Caye Field Station
Meals Included: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Day 9: Full day excursion to Lighthouse Reef for snorkeling the famous Blue Hole, visiting a red-footed booby sanctuary, superb beach snorkeling from Half Moon Caye, and enjoy a picnic of Belizean specialties.
(Tuesday, March 4)

Note: Snorkeling at several sites. View seabird sanctuary from a viewing platform, enjoy beachcombing, and a lunch picnic.



   
 Depart From: Blackbird Caye by boat for an hour and a half trip to Lighthouse Reef Atoll.
 Breakfast: Breakfast at the field station palapa.
 Morning: Snorkel the rim of the famous Blue Hole.
 Lunch: Enjoy a picnic lunch of Belizean specialties on the beach.
 Afternoon: Leisurely walk to the Half Moon Caye Booby and Frigate bird sanctuary to see nesting seabirds. Also enjoy fabulous beach snorkeling. Late afternoon departure back to Blackbird Caye Field Station.
 Dinner: Dinner at the field station palapa.
   
Accommodations: Oceanic Society Blackbird Caye Field Station
Meals Included: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Day 10:
(Wednesday, March 5)
   
 Depart From: 90-minute boat transfer from Blackbird Caye Field Station, Turneffe Atoll back to Belize City.
 Breakfast: Breakfast at the field station palapa.
   
Accommodations: Oceanic Society Blackbird Caye Field Station
Meals Included: Breakfast
Important information about your itinerary: Every effort has been made to ensure the accuracy and completeness of the information featured on this website. Itineraries are based on our best information at this time. Circumstances beyond our control may require us to adjust itineraries or other details. We regret any inconvenience this may cause and appreciate your understanding. Information will be sent to you from your Program Provider approximately three weeks prior to the program start date. The prices listed for commercial services and facilities that are not included in the program cost, such as airport shuttles or extra nights lodging, are subject to change without notice. Since Road Scholar cannot guarantee the accuracy of these prices, we strongly suggest contacting the companies directly for the most up-to-date information.

Suggested Reading List


Belize (Insight Guides)


Author: Insight Guides


Description: Insight Guides, the world's largest visual travel series, capture the unique character of each destination's culture with a perspective only an insider can provide. Picturesque, romantic, historic or exotic, Insight covers the world's most popular destinations.



Belize Handbook


Author: Alex Robinson


Description: From mountainous, tropical rainforests with abundant wildlife to fertile subtropical foothills and bird-filled coastal wetlands and beautiful beaches, Belize is an extraordinary and fascinating country to explore. Whether you want to enjoy world-class diving, snorkeling and sport fishing, ancient Mayan ruins or endless bird-watching opportunities, this brand new Footprint Handbook provides comprehensive coverage of this diverse and unique country including amazing cultural insights, all the best places to eat, drink and sleep, detailed advice on how to get around and how to experience the most from the adventure activities on offer.



Belize, Adventures in Nature


Author: Richard Mahler


Belize: A Natural Destination


Author: Richard Mahler, Steele Wotkyns, Kevin Schafer


Description: Featuring all-new material on Mayan ruins, diving, snorkeling, fishing, river trips, and nature tours, the latest edition of Belize: A Natural Destination remains "the best guide to both practical and historical information" (Outside). 55 photos, 20 in color. 40 line drawings. 10 maps.



Bottlenose Dolphins: Revised Edition


Author: Paul Thompson


Description: Intelligent, graceful and approachable, dolphins have long been among the worlds favorite sea creatures. Of all the dolphin species, the bottlenose is best known and loved. But bottlenose dolphins are more than television stars and aquarium performers. In "Bottlenose Dolphins" readers will voyage under the sea with researchers Paul Thompson and Ben Wilson, who are studying dolphins off the coast of Scotland. The authors explain the bottlenose dolphins oceanic habitat and range, and delve into their complex social relationships. They also share their concerns for the future of these beloved seafarers and suggest steps to protect them. Stunning color photographs accompany their insights.



Divers and Snorkelers Guide to Fishes and Sea Life of the Caribbean, Florida, Bahamas and Bermuda


Author: F. Joseph Stokes


Diving and Snorkeling Guide to Belize


Author: Franz O. Meyer


Dolphin Societies: Discoveries and Puzzles


Author: Karen Pryor, Kenneth S. Norris


Dolphins and Porpoises


Author: Richard Ellis


Description: Dolphins and Porpoises captures the exuberance, the intelligence, the sheer charisma, of forty-three species of small cetacean -- from the immensely popular bottlenose dolphin to the rare and attractive spectacled porpoise to their awe-inspiring cousin, the killer whale.



Snorkeling Guide to Marine Life: Florida, Caribbean, Bahamas


Author: Paul Humann, Ned Deloach


Description: This field guide illustrates all the fish, corals, invertebrates and plants you are most likely to encounter in less than 15 feet of water in the Caribbean. Humann's photographs are excellent for identification purposes - and the handy size makes it perfect to take along in the boat or to the beach.



The Bottlenose Dolphin


Author: Stephen Leatherwood


Description: Because of their exposure in marine parks, movies, and television as well as their presence in tropical and warm-temperature waters around the world, bottlenose dolphins are among the most familiar of marine mammals. Since they are relatively easy to obtain and they thrive in captivity, these dolphins have been used in a great variety of studies. Work with the bottlenose has provided insight into the sensory mechanisms, communication systems, energetics, reproduction, anatomy, and other aspects of cetacean biology. This volume presents the most recent biological and behavioral discoveries of bottlenose dolphins from different regions and compares bottlenose dolphins as a group with other species of animals.



The Bottlenose Dolphin: Biology and Conservation


Author: John E. Reynolds III, Randall S. Wells, Samantha D. Eide


The Natural History of Whales and Dolphins


Author: Peter G. H. Evans




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