Through an exciting new partnership with Discover Corps, TIDE now has a new cohort of volunteers to help us continue our important work! Discover Corps is an international travel company that connects those wishing to have a more meaningful travel experience with opportunities to immerse themselves in local cultures and leave a lasting positive impact on the communities they visit. The company has launched seven trips per year under their program to send groups of volunteers to Toledo to help with TIDE’s manatee population monitoring efforts.
The Antillean manatee, listed as endangered on the IUCN’s Red List of Endangered Species, is an important part of Belize’s heritage but is under threat from poaching, habitat loss and boat traffic. Protecting this precious species has always been at the heart of TIDE’s mission (as expressed in our logo) and in 2014 a manatee baseline population study was conducted in collaboration with ECOSUR Master’s student Tránsito González Medina, supervised by TIDE science director James Foley. The Discover Corps volunteer groups will be continuing this study, establishing an ongoing monitoring program for southern Belize’s manatee population that will allow us to better understand the population so that we can work with local communities and fishers to protect it and its habitat.
When Discover Corps volunteers visit TIDE they are providing invaluable support to our Research and Monitoring program through direct participation in our field work. Volunteers will conduct manatee surveys by boat, learning how to measure environmental conditions that affect the manatees’ habitat and record behavioral data. In addition, they will also become intimately acquainted with Belize’s unique natural world and diverse cultures through nature hikes in Belize’s pristine tropical forests, up-close encounters with monkeys and yellow-headed parrots, river tubing, cave exploring and cooking lessons from the locals. The unique two-way sharing of knowledge provided by this program is a wonderful opportunity that is greatly beneficial to all involved and TIDE is thrilled to continue this partnership with Discover Corps!