WHAT DOES THE PROJECT DO?
An Exotic Location in Paradise
One of the most beautiful destinations in Colombia is Cartagena, both on land and sea. The colonial architecture is only the preamble to the unforgettable diving in one of the most important marine national parks in the country. The water temperatures average a balmy 29 degrees centigrade and visibility can be up to 18 m, making this not only pleasant but an amazing experience.
On the Caribbean coast of Colombia, Cartegena is a UNESCO designated city. The nearby national park, Corales del Rosario y san Bernardo, is the only marine park in the country where the coral reefs and marine ecosystems are protected by law. You will be working in this magnificent marine park which was established in 1977 and covers a huge area of 1,200 square km.
Record Marine Biodiversity, ecosystem function and environmental change
Through underwater SCUBA and snorkel surveys you will be monitoring coral, fish and benthic species as well as assessing biodiversity and ecosystem function, sustainable development, and live history of key coastal species. Diving under the supervision of a professional dive officer, you will become confident and comfortable underwater. Your results will help determine the biodiversity of these waters and help develop further marine park management plans and sustainable resource use within local communities.
Other activities include surveying mangroves, a vital buffer against elements such as tsunamis, and also documenting coastal bird and reptile populations, an important part of the coastal ecosystem. If you are only able to join the project for 2 or 3 weeks your involvement in the surveys and conservation work will be limited.
WHAT WILL I BE DOING?
To gather the data needed you will be diving regularly (weather permitting) with Sunday off. If you need dive training we will train you up at the start of the project. You'll also explore the luxuriant mangrove forests and record the rich variety of organisms living there and in the other intertidal zones. Whilst diving you will discover dense sea grass beds rich sources of nutrients for the marine communities. You will deploy a wide range of newly learned research skills and scientific techniques including: underwater visual census of reef and commercial fish, assessment of algal and coral cover to determine the extent of coral bleaching and damage, and line intercept transects for benthic life and indicator invertebrate species such as nudibranchs. You will record observations of the feeding habits and behaviour patterns of a range of marine life. You will get to study the impact of potentially destructive fishing methods on the corals reefs, study the effects of global warming on marine communities or note any indication of the impact of the marine-curio trade on endangered marine invertebrates.
Whilst diving, you'll see an extraordinary array of animals from colourful reef fish species to turtles, sea cucumbers to feathery starfish, and spiny urchins to octopus. By the end of your project you will be expert at identifying hundreds of multi coloured and patterned reef fish as well as being an experienced and competent diver. Although the work is intense and challenging you'll get immense satisfaction from having survived and from having made a valuable contribution to the conservation of this untarnished marine wilderness. Volunteers who join the project for less than 4 weeks will not be able to participate in the full range of survey activities, but will still be able to make a valuable contribution to the work. You will return home with thousands of photos, lots of new friends, a wealth of fascinating stories and extraordinary memories.
You'll find your team to be a fun, dynamic mix of ages and experiences, with members who all share a passion about travelling in developing countries and saving endangered life. Your staff will be young, friendly individuals who are highly experienced in their research field and many of whom will have been Frontier volunteers at an earlier stage in their career.