Bahamas Marine Conservation



Given that 71 % of our planet is covered by water, keeping our waterways healthy is now one of the most pressing environmental issues. Our oceans have been negatively affected by a range of  escalating issues over the last couple of years like climate change,  acidification, overfishing and pollution. The 3rd largest barrier  reef in the world, located off the coast of the Andros Island in the Bahamas,  has been no stranger to these issues. The Andros Barrier reefs are now battling the fight of disappearing  forever. 

If you have a passion for marine conservation and would  like to get involved, become a Volunteer  Assistant Marine Researcher on the Andros, and help to save our coral reefs.

Volunteers over the past few years have helped grow  coral and plant artificial reefs, dove deep into government research focused on  understanding deterioration and rehabilitation efforts, and became involved in  local education efforts to raise awareness on marine conservation. This has  been a great success so far, and is an ongoing mission that is growing in  importance. 

 

Learn to dive and become a PADI Open Water and  Advanced Open Water Diver within the first 3 -  4 weeks! 

As part of our team of Marine Research Assistants,  you'll experience unforgettable diving, make a whole community of friends and  help ensure that future generations will care for the reef and its long term  survival. Don't just talk about conservation, volunteer abroad and  make a positive impact.

Bahamas Marine Conservation - Gap Year program


Bahamas Marine Conservation Gap Year Program

Highlights

    • Live and work on a stunning Caribbean island
    • Become an experienced internationally PADI qualified diver
    • Get high quality biology and research training from our Gapforce marine scientist
    • Swim with sharks, rays & turtles!
    • Work with Andros Conservency and Trust (ANCAT) on a vital long term project
    • Contribute to sustainable initiatives aiming to recover coral reefs
    • Make new friends for life, from all around the world!

Learn  about marine ecosystems and conservation methods and become an Assistant  Marine Researcher

Volunteer  Assistant Marine Researchers needed! Come to the Bahamas and work with our  local partners to protect the coral reefs and provide a sustainable future fort his beautiful island. No experience required just the desire to make a  difference. Learn to dive with full PADI dive training in the first phase of3-4 weeks, and explore research techniques both on-land and in the water. You'llbe trained by experienced scientists in how to complete underwater marine  surveys and how to identify the many species of animals and coral you'll see  including invasive species. The  underwater world becomes your new home.

Learn  to dive / improve your skills

To  complete your project work you will need to be a capable diver, so we will  train you to PADI Open Water and Advanced Open Water level, and then add in  your Emergency First Response qualification for good measure too! 

Plus,  with the amount of diving you'll be doing, and the variety of dive sites in the  Bahamas you'll leave a competent and experienced scuba diver with some amazing  memories for your time in the Caribbean!

Marine  Conservation Youth Education

Youth are already coming up with creative solutions  to the world’s greatest challenges. Yet, young people remain one of our largest  untapped resources for advancing the global marine conservation agenda.

During your program, you will use your knowledge of  marine conservation to spread awareness of the importance in sustaining healthy  oceans in a local school.  Teach students  just how valuable marine life that surrounds their island is, and how everyone  has the capacity to protect it in the future.

Please  note for July-phase: Students are on summer holiday and schools are  closed.  As such, in this phase we do not  run the Marine Conservation Youth Education program.

Have  fun !

Spend  your days relaxing on the beach, where coincidentally your accommodations and  marine education is conducted! The group has plenty of opportunity to relax on  the beach, get to know the local community and participate in a number of  team-bonding activities like beach Olympics, quiz nights, movie nights and  scavenger hunts.  Head on outings to oneof Andros’s incredible Blue Holes, snorkel your way through mangroves and getsandy in heated games of beach volleyball. Your  days will be filled with the best of both worlds, education and fun!

If you want to learn more about our new project with ANCAT, life on Andros Island and further project work you will get involved in please read our interview with our Marine Scientist Darcy here: The international year of the reef - interview with Darcy on Andros Island

 

What`s included

  • PADI Open Water, Advanced Open Water and Emergency First Response qualifications (at additional costs)
  • Professional dive gear, including BCD's, regulators, tanks and dive weights
  • Introductory marine conservation and science training
  • Comprehensive pre-departure support
  • Experienced Gapforce Leaders supervising throughout the program
  • Airport transfer once you have arrived on Andros Island
  • Welcome and safety briefing
  • Dormitory accommodation in the Gapforce beach house
  • 3 nutritious and local style meals a day
  • All program-related transport on the island
  • Organised social and day-trip activities, e.g. to Andros Blue Holes
  • 24/7 UK emergency backup

Please note: You are required to bring your own personal dive equipment as outlined in the kit list provided when you sign up. Diving will be a regular feature of the program subject to weather conditions making it safe to do so.


      Why I Chose Bahamas

      "We run a marine conservation program focusing on the study of the local reef, which happens to be the third largest in the world. I have been lucky enough to dive in a number of destinations but nothing compares to the reef here.

      The topography is just astounding. We spend time teaching at the local school, focusing conservation and the preservation of the marine ecosystem. During the summer months we spend time with the summer camp teaching the local kids to snorkel and basic first aid.

      We have access to both oceanic and inland blue holes which is very unique. Andros has three or four very special blue holes such as King Kong, which is an oceanic blue hole, Captain Bills and Stalactite are two inland blue holes."

      Warren Beyers, Gapforce Expedition Leader, Bahamas

    The best thing you will ever do!

    I turned up for a month in the Bahamas with people I didn't know and to do something I had no previous experience of.......... and the best time. The instructors are some of the most professional, kind, hard working, good fun and just bloody awesome people you will have the pleasure of meeting and in my experience the same is true for the volunteers. This course seems to attract like minded and fantastic people. The accommodation and food is basic but very homely and a very relaxed environment to live in. Once you leave the comfort and sunny rays of the beach and venture on a dive words just cant explain the beauty that beholds you. Phenomenal reefs and fish, a fair few megafauna and visibility that enables you to see mainland America......... nearly! All in all I cant do this trip justice in words I just recommend you get out there and try it cause you wont regret it!

    Ollie

    Basic but an amazing experience

    I would strongly recommend this project to anyone, even if you have no diving experience. I was there for four weeks and wished i went for longer, in that time i did a lot. I was nervous about diving before i went however James the instructor was brilliant and i managed to complete the advanced course in 10 days.The staff were good at having days planned, and the project was good value for money. Any issues the volunteers had, were addressed by the staff and things were changed swiftly after which made the trip run more smoothly. The food was very basic however i'm gluten tolerant and i took supplies with me and it was no issue for me to eat alternatives. Everyone helps with the cooking which makes it more of a social activity and everyone's preferences in the kitchen are accommodated for. There is also a shop five minutes away to get snacks from in between meals.In my phase, there were only 10 volunteers and we all got on well, you get to know everyone as you spend most of the day together and as cliche as it sounds you become a little family. which is why i would recommend going for as long as possible as if you leave early it is hard to say goodbye.Anti-insect repellent is a must as the sand-fly bites can be particularly nasty. Although everything is quite basic you soon get used to it.

    Laura Hayter

    Loved it :D

    I took part in the Greenforce Bahamas project in January 2015- march 2015 and I would definitely recommend this project to everyone who loves meeting new people, diving, beach life and sun. Every thing is obviously a bit basic but I believe this adds to the whole experience and makes everything a bit more fun. The dive sites are also really good and if you are lucky you might see sharks, dolphins and turtles. My fellow volunteers and staff members where extremely nice and supportive and I have definitely made awesome new friends. Food is basic just like the whole research station but if you are not a picky eater you will be just fine. Andros is really a beautiful island with so many things to visit and the locals are very friendly and funny. The only thing I was disappointed about was that it seemed like Gapforce has neglected this project a little bit the main problem being that we didn't always have the proper equipment or it wasn't working properly. But none the less the staff always tried to make the best of the situation and often did. All in all I have to say that going to the Bahamas was an experience of a life time and I would recommend it to everyone.If you have any questions feel free to ask :)

    Philipp

    Oct 2014

    I had always loved scuba diving and headed down to the Bahamas to learn more about marine science. The program balanced learning and fun very well and I ended up having one of the best experiences of my life. Be prepared that this is not a resort location. I feel that the fact that the location is a little rustic and rugged only adds to the experience. You are right on the beach and dive everyday (weather permitting). I would recommend going during the spring or summer season, as the winter winds can sometimes leave you stranded on land. For the price and location, the food, the diving, and the accommodation were great and plentiful. Plan to learn a lot and never want to leave!

    Casey

    Bahamas July 2013

    I could write pages and pages about this amazing experience. As someone from my phase said to me, it sounds cliche but it is indeed a life changing experience. I can only agree.As a advanced open water, I was looking forward to dive the reefs of Andros. And they lived up to my expectations! The oceanic blue hole King Kong is the most stunning dive I ever did. The geology is outstanding!! The reefs lay deep, but provide an amazing topography and the drop off called Tongue of the Ocean is dramatic and makes one realize how small and insignificant a human being is in the ocean. During every single dive we had a lot of fun, fooled around (of course within saftey regulations) and cracked jokes before and after.The camp itself was perfect. We had a huge group (I recon 25 volunteers +staff) so they were people everywhere. But if one wanted time off, relax and enjoy the silence, people went up on the balcony where the `chill area` was and could do just that. Otherwise there was always something going on. The other volunteers were fun loving, it did not take long until we all became close friends. I really hope to have a reunion. Same goes for the staff, they did a awesome job coordinating our group and making sure everyone feels good and gets to dive as much as possible. I can't lie, they were just as fun loving as every volunteer and always good for a laugh. And yeh, Saturdays were the best evenings.About the lectures, teaching, and the program: If somebody is interested in Marine Science I would highly recommend it! It is a great chance to get some skills, knowledge and to be involved in intercultural education as it is a big part of the whole program to educate the local community about various topics. We also did beach clean ups, set up survey sites, did a lot of identification dives and had lectures about Fish, Corals, Invertebrates, Turtles, Ecology and and and...we watched documentaries in the evening from time to time which gave us a great idea about issues and life out there.Other days were spent at the blue wholes, which you see in the videos (one of the best days we had was there) or by some randome activities which were up to you.Before I go on and write a book let's just say that this trip was not only great but a perfect chance to dive every single day and learn about the oceans and marine conservation. If you can imagine doing this for weeks or months, go!! Don't hesitate because I am sure you will never regret it.

    Sebastian

    Incredible!

    We went scuba diving almost everyday, we saw sharks and turtles and dived in a blue hole for the first time! One of the nurse sharks even came really close to the shore, we could see it from the volunteer house!Met some of the most amazing people who I will never forget. Thanks for one of the best experiences ever Greenforce!

    The double act

    Bahamas Marine Conservation July 2012

    The experience of living outside by the ocean for 5 weeks is one which I will never forget. There is not a day that goes by which I don't think about my time on Andros and I would recommend this trip to anyone.There wasn't ever an average day on Andros but most days were spent diving for half of the day and then learning about either the various types of fish and coral and the marine environment. We also learned about other conservation efforts taking place around the world and species that were in danger. Diving is one of the most incredible activities and the reefs around Andros were a spectacular vantage point for marine life. It felt like descending into a complete other world on my very first dive - one which I never wanted to leave once I was in it.Other days were spent seeing the island and taking in the local culture. We would take trips to the amazing blue holes on the islands, sometimes with picnics and sometimes stopping at local cafe's and restaurants. We would also get involved with teaching local kids to swim or educating them about what they could do to aid the protection of the marine environment.By the weekends after all that hard work we'd definitely earned alot of rum drinks from the beach bar we were based near to. The social side of this project was brilliant and the pictures from our Saturday nights will always help us to remember the amazing times we had together. On this trip you can't help but make friends that you'll keep for life.If you want an out of this world experience, cut off from the world's life in one of the most incredible settings, where you contribute to the conservation of the world's oceans then this trip is definitely for you!

    Becks Smethurst

    Bahamas 2012 : July Phase

    I love the ocean and marine life, so when I stumbled upon the greenforce Bahamas trip I was excited but really didn't know what to expect. However, once I got there I never wanted to leave! The relationships I made with the interns, supervisors and other members are ones I will always cherish, and we are all still in contact. We became a team and looked after each other, we all had chores and all worked together to make the experience as good as possible. I not only developed a true passion for the marine environment, but through fish and benthic lessons and actually seeing the underwater world first hand, am now studying environmental science in Uni, using a lot of what I learned in the Bahamas. I would recommend this to anyone, it developed me as a person who is more open to making new friendships, and 'literally' diving into unknown experiences.

    S.J.T

    Bahamas 2012

    I had the best diving trip of my life out in The Bahamas. I felt it was a very authentic experience of the country because we weren't in any touristy areas. Having a huge bay all to ourselves was brilliant and being able to stop the boat and dive anywhere without anyone else around was a unique experience I haven't had diving anywhere else.Day to day we would be up early; first group would dive while the rest of us learnt how to identify all aspects of marine life from the fish to the reef. Then everyone would be in camp for lunch before we would swap diving and lectures around.With perfect conditions we were able to get 2 dives per boat trip, but due to weather it didn't always happen.The marine life was insane with me seeing my first site of sharks, sea turtles and a spotted eagle ray within my first 2 dives!The people were just awesome as well and made the trip that much more of a quality trip. We've already had one reunion in the UK and have another on the way.Things didn't always go to the exact plan, however that's what this kind of trip is all about. It made the experience that much more exciting!

    Matt Dickens

    Amazing Experience!!!

    I spent 6 months on the island of Andros. 3 months as a volunteer and 3 months as an intern. Both phrases were excellent!!The island holds some awesome natural beauty which include the blue holes and the beaches. I loved waking up every morning on the beach and seeing the sun.You do work hard during the week with many dives, school lessons and fish learning but this makes the weekend fun at the bars feel even better.I will never forget my first dive on the reef, it felt like I was on another planet and I would recommend diving to everyone because of that experience.If you like sun, sea, sand and alcohol this is the trip for you!!!

    Sam Clarke

    O'fish'ally 'Fin'tastic ;)

    This trip has truly been amazing. I wasn't quite sure what to expect from it when I booked it but it exceeded what I imagined. For my gap year I first wanted something to do which wasn't travelling around and was by an organisation I looked at volunteering and treks but none had quite as much spark as diving everyday. I had been diving before so it really sounded like the perfect trip for me. There were many people who had never been diving before so they got qualified in the first few weeks, I thought that was quite bold to commit to 3 months of unknown, but they all enjoyed themselves so much and were lil pro divers by the end.Even when we could not dive due to weather issues, we were still on the largest island in the Bahamas so there was so much to explore. We went up north to Morgan's bluff where there were ship wrecks we could snorkel, another time we went to captain Morgan's cave and then to the most northern tip of andros. On the island there were hundreds of blue holes we could of explored, my favourite of the blue holes was churches; it had a platform to jump, dive or flip off depending how ballsy you were, a bbq and toilets!! Another bh had a rope swing which was very entertaining.All these day trips were organised by our amazing scientist Sam and expedition leader. Both Sam and James slaved away to plan these trips for us so we weren't sitting around camp all day.There was a point during the 10 weeks where Sam was on his own supervising 12 people, whilst leading 4 dives a day and having to buy groceries (without a car) so then hitching back, taking hours. He must have been exhausted by the end of the day, but he never complained and was always still willing to listen to moans or suggestions. Also he would have to teach us our fish and coral lectures in between dives. it was clear the passion he has for his subject, which made the lessons so much more bearable and interesting. He would come up with quirky ways of remembering either the fish or coral, which always stuck in my brain. This man deserves a medal.I would recommend staying for the full 12 weeks, just because you get so close to your fellow volunteers, like a big family, leaving early upsets the family and you won't want to leave them having all the fun!If you're a cool kid, this trip is for you. Yes, you'll miss home sometimes and yes you'll miss vegetables (shocker) but that's not the things you remember from the trip.You'll remember the crazy underwater creatures and the awesome people you meet. I'm tempted to book for next phase!

    Lucy H

    So much fun, has potential to be even better!

    I went down to the Bahamas not expecting much at all and I believe those are the expectations you have to have if you're going to a project like this one. I had loads of fun during my time in Staniard Creek, but unfortunately, due to some uncontrollable factors such as weather and the fact that Andros is so remote this projects full potential was not completely reached. Saying this, there was nothing that the staff could do and they worked their hardest to try and make the windy (no diving) days as enjoyable as possible with lots of out trips. These trips were to AMAZING blue holes, surrounding towns and to more sheltered areas close by where volunteers were able to complete their PADI courses in time before they left. So the staff was great, especially Sam, the chief scientist who was a fantastic teacher and more importantly a great person. He made lessons fun and interactive, while putting emphasis on accuracy and the importance of what we had come to do. If not for the windy weather and trouble with getting boat parts I have no doubt that we would have been making the 5 minute boat ride to the beautiful reef to dive and survey almost every day. So I'd suggest to anyone interested to definitely check the seasonal weather patterns before they go.

    Hayden

    Jesie Dyos

    Diving was fantastic and I learnt so much about the reef, marine animals and the coral. Sam the scientist made learn not only interesting but fun playing games to help learn the species of fish and coral.

    Bahamas

    Such a fun and eye-opening experience.

    Helping me to understand the opportunities to help the marine environment and get involved in future marine conservation efforts. Has made me excited to go on to study Ocean science. Met loads of great people who come from all different places around the world.”

    Luke, UK

    My Gapforce experience was amazing.

    I thoroughly enjoyed it because the staff and fellow volunteers were so friendly. I enjoyed all the activities we did and how the staff showed us more of the island than just the camp. I also enjoyed how everyone worked together to get stuff done around camp. Overall it was a great experience.

    Hunter, Canada

    I had an awesome experience with Gapforce.

    Everyone was very easy going and friendly. The staff was very welcoming, and approachable. The first night we sat by the fire, getting to know everyone which was nice and the staff was very good at initiating conversation and making everyone feel extremely comfortable. Will was a great leader, and was extremely approachable about any problems that may have arose and showed genuine concern about everyone. Elyssa and Zara were amazing instructors and made everyone feel comfortable when diving. Nicole and Victoria were extremely helpful with any questions that we had, and were also very approachable. Zara was my fav.

    Brandie, Canada

    Such a fun and rewarding experience.

    Went outside of my comfort zone and did some amazing things and met loads of amazing people that were interested in what I was interested in, which is really cool! Made me realise some of the opportunities that can come out of a marine science degree and I now look forward to chasing some of these opportunities up to gain more experience/find a job!

    Beckie, Australia

    Truly Spectacular

    Although only here for 4 weeks this experience in the Bahamas has been truly spectacular and one I’ll never forget. The other volunteers and staff were incredibly friendly throughout the trip, and the diving has been some of the best I’ve ever done. I only wish I’d come for longer!

    Cameron, UK

    It has been some amazing 10 weeks

    I have learned how to dive and now I just love it. I have also made a lot of new friends from all over the world and I am definitely going to miss it a lot. The staff is really cool as well, they are doing a very good job here.

    Nanna, Denmark

    Loved it

    During this expedition I was able to learn a hobby I’ve always wanted to try, made great friends with staff and volunteers, found a passion for marine science and conservation, and immersed myself in the Bahamian culture.

    Nicole, USA

    My Experience

    I graduated high school in 2015, not knowing what I want to do. I found Gapforce and knew it was the perfect opportunity to see the world. I have never traveled outside of the United States so I was very excited. I knew I would have the time of my life, and it did not disappoint. I met many new people and gained many new friends that I know I will have for the rest of my life. I am so thankful for Gapforce for giving me this opportunity.

    Benjamin, Plymouth

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    • Duration: 4 to 10 weeks
    • Departures: January, April, July, September

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