About the Reef Buddy Volunteer Project
Caribbean Reef Buddy’s story in Carriacou has had our team supported by volunteer participants making a tangible difference to the awareness of the importance of marine conservation on the island. By taking a leading role in the implementation of small-scale educational projects which bring together international volunteers and members of local community groups we’re able to demonstrate the practical benefits which can drive sustainable change in attitudes.
As a Caribbean Reef Buddy volunteer, you will add your chapter to our ongoing story. Join us on the beautiful island of Carriacou near Grenada, learning to dive in the warm, crystal clear waters of the Caribbean Sea and play a full and active part in all of our exciting marine conservation projects.
By choosing to join Caribbean Reef Buddy you will be undertaking the following:
- Open Water and Advanced Adventure diver courses or diver advancement dives if you are already ‘Advanced’ certified.
- Advanced diving techniques including navigation and buoyancy control.
- Specialty courses in coral and fish identification.
- Specialty training in digital underwater photography.
- Coral nursery program, including cleaning coral fragments, out planting and establishing new tables.
- Specialty training in Lionfish containment, including hunting, analysis and data collection.
- Internationally recognized reef survey protocols, fish, benthic and coral survey techniques, including Reef Check.
- Macroinvertebrate research and data collection, also known as underwater slug hunting!
- Sharks and apex predator surveys using BRUVS.
- Diver Impact assessments dives, including monitoring and data aggregation
- Emergency First Aid and Diver Stress & Rescue training if staying longer than 4 weeks.
- Lectures, classes and support from our resident biologists.
- Snorkel trips to the beautiful Sandy Island and White Island.
- Hike through the Nature Reserve to the summit of High North.
- Turtle monitoring with our friends at Ocean Spirits in Grenada (only on combo package).
Our programmes are designed with you in mind! Our team of highly experienced dive professionals and marine biologists will ensure you receive the highest quality of training and guidance possible. All diving equipment, course materials and research/project equipment is also provided.
Duration of your stay
Our programme schedule runs for 20 weeks from May to September. We’ve broken this down into 4 and 8 week chunks, and over each 8-week period we will engage in each of our six conservation projects.
For new divers, you’ll join us for an initial training phase lasting 2 weeks which will provide you with dive training up to ‘Advanced Adventure Diver’ level, and introduce you to some of our monitoring and data collection protocols. If you’re already ‘Advanced’ certified and have more than 15 logged dives, you can skip the first week of this phase and join the programme later.
You then have the option of staying additional weeks to take part in our various conservation programmes, with a different conservation project starting every week. This will involve both theory and diving. In essence, you form part of the CRB family, playing a full ‘hands on’ role in all our project work.
Thinking of a career in diving and marine conservation? Then consider our 4 week Eco Divemaster programme add on. Leave us with a host of conservation experience as well as an internationally recognized professional dive qualification As a Divemaster you are qualified to seek work in the diving industry!
Here is a brief introduction to our various projects:
The coral reef systems around Carriacou comprise a beautifully special and biodiverse coral reef ecosystem on which the population of this island relies. Though still teeming with life, increasing stress due to over-fishing and invasive species could ultimately threaten their collapse! Through reef monitoring and data collection, a better picture can be obtained concerning stressors to the reef ecosystem and strategies by which they can be mitigated. We work together with universities and individual researchers around the globe that share our goals to protect this beautiful and productive ecosystem. You will be trained in the Reef Check monitoring protocols and conduct surveys covering fish, benthic and coral.
Coral Reef Nursery
Following a pilot programme implemented in conjunction with UNEP, TNC, and the government of Grenada, Caribbean Reef Buddy has established their very own coral nursery and created a training programme to involve volunteers. Our Caribbean Coral Nursery Diver project was written in-house and designed to teach Caribbean Reef Buddy volunteers about the construction, population, maintenance, monitoring and out-planting of a coral nursery using Staghorn (Acropora cervicornis) and Elkhorn (Acropora palmata) coral species.
In June and August of 2018, Caribbean Reef Buddy volunteers completed the training, built nursery structures and populated them with fragments of Elkhorn coral- a critically endangered species. As part of our programme, volunteers will have the opportunity to complete training in coral nursery establishment, maintenance, out planting and in doing so aid in reef restoration efforts and the recovery of a threatened species. This work will continue into the 2020 season and beyond.
New 2020 projects
Caribbean Reef Buddy are excited to welcome Dr Yara Tibirica to the team, a passionate diver and field biologist, Yara has implemented three new projects, join us in 2020 and be the first volunteers to take part in the following:
Shark and apex predator surveys
The global plight of sharks has been well documented, every year more and more species are placed on the IUCN Red List. Now, more than ever it is important that we learn more about migratory patterns, habitat selection and feeding habits. Sightings of both Tiger and Hammerhead sharks by fisher folk in our waters warrant further investigation. For 2020, we will be using baited remote underwater video surveillance (BRUVS) to identify, record and monitor sharks on our outer reefs. In collaboration with our partners, this data will be used to provide important information to aid in the protection of these beautiful and misunderstood animals.
Nudibranchs by virtue of their size are often overlooked. Join Dr Yara in her research, and learn all about these elusive tiny critters and gather data on their presence on our reefs. This study has never been conducted in the region; identifying new, never seen before species is a very real possibility!
Diver Impact Assessment Study
Does recreational diving have a negative impact on the reef ecosystem? As part of a world-wide study we are conducting dives assessing the impact divers can have on the reefs. This data can then be used to develop divers understanding of their impact and also change diving behaviours positively.
Caribbean Reef Buddy
Caribbean Reef Buddy is a registered Non-Governmental Organisation (NGO), partnered with Deefer Diving Carriacou, an SSI Diamond and PADI 5 Star dive centre. With a team of passionate, ecologically-conscious dive professionals and biologists in place, it is our goal to meet and support the marine conservation needs of the island.
The decline of coral reefs across the Caribbean has been well documented. Climate change, over-fishing and increased commercial development are all playing their part. Through our frequent presence under water, we have noticed these threats beginning to impact the coral reef systems of Carriacou. We understand that a healthy marine ecosystem plays an important role in sustaining the livelihoods of the local population, and have taken initiative to protect the biodiversity and ecological wealth of the island.
Our Friends and Partners
We have partnered with Ocean Spirits in Grenada to deliver combo programmes in reef conservation and turtle monitoring. Ocean Spirits utilise their expertise to train volunteers in Leatherback turtle monitoring during summer programmes. For more information on our “combo” trips with Ocean Spirits Leatherback Sea Turtle Programme in Grenada, please email Victoria.McNeil@workingabroad.com