Imagine a marine conservation and scuba diving internship where you could assist in critical marine conservation projects. Good news — it exists.
Not all interns work in offices.
This divemaster internship with AFS takes place on the Caribbean coast of Mexico in the Yucatan Peninsula. You’ll live and work for 12 weeks with a research team, undergoing an extensive training program. Knowledge gained will be put to practice while working to compile crucial research on coral reef and fish species through daily surveying dives.
You’ll be assessed each week to measure your progress. Successful applicants will then be offered the opportunity to complete their PADI DiveMaster course during a 12 week work placement with a local dive center. This exciting opportunity will provide practical experience in the dive industry — using your professional dive qualification, you’ll practice leadership scenarios and help dive center staff with the day-to-day running of the dive shop.
Goals and Expectations of the Divemaster Internship
Our aim is to collect data in the northern section of the Mesoamerican Barrier Reef, working with our local partners to:
- Form a comprehensive overview of the ecological health of the reef
- Determine the species and breeding success of sea turtles (seasonal)
- Develop the expedition base as an “Ecological Research and Awareness Center”
- Develop education and awareness programs within the local community
- Provide a record of coral and fish species abundance over time, to contribute to the long term survival of the reef
As a divemaster intern, you will be involved in data collection of targeted fish and coral species, habitat mapping for coral reefs and mangrove management, the development of environmental education and awareness programs for local schools and communities, and the development of terrestrial and marine environmental best practices in the area. There are also opportunities to get involved in local bird monitoring, incidental sighting recording, lionfish sighting recording, and turtle monitoring (May-Oct).
This expedition requires a full time commitment. You can expect to have a few free weekends to explore the surrounding islands and/or participate on fun dives.
Where You’ll Stay
You’ll be staying on a volunteer base in Puerto Morelos on the Yucatan peninsula, located near the Amigo Di Sian Ka’an Biosphere Reserve. Puerto Morelos is a unique location in Latin America, not only because it represents an optimal feeding, nesting, and breeding habitat for marine turtles, but also because it contains a high diversity of natural environments, including jungle, wetlands, coastal dunes, mangroves, cenotes, inlets, seagrass meadows, and coral reefs.
Puerto Morelos reefs make up part of the Mesoamerican Barrier System, which is the second largest reef in the world. These reefs provide a vibrant habitat for species of fauna that are considered threatened or under special protection.
Accommodation on the base is basic — for the duration of the internship, you will be sharing mixed-gender dorm rooms with bunk beds. There is limited running water, and you can expect bucket showers. Food is simple (rice, pasta, and potatoes, with fresh vegetable orders once a week). You’ll take turns preparing the daily meals in the communal kitchen. Mobile reception during the internship will be limited.
Activities & Training
Things to do
You are welcome to organize side trips during your free time, or before/after your divemaster internship experience. Associated costs and travel expenses are not included in the project fee, and must be factored into your budget. There are endless adventures along the Yucatan peninsula, as well as opportunities to travel to nearby destinations in South America. Many of these activities involve diving, and are located very close to the expedition base. Options include cenote diving near Tulum, diving with turtles in Puerto Morelos Bay, wall reef diving off Cozumel island, or snorkeling with whale sharks off Holbox island between June and September. Rio Lagartos is nearby, and is home to flocks of flamingos and river crocodiles, while Bacalar, known as the lake of seven colors, is a must see if you’re willing to travel further afield.There are also many ruins and archaeological sites in the region which allow you the opportunity to immerse yourself in the rich Mayan culture. These include Tulum, Coba, Palenque, and Merida. Volunteers also regularly visit Tulum and Playa Del Carmen on weekends to enjoy the vibrant nightlife, restaurants, and shopping.
Orientation and Training
Staff in the field will provide training on the skills required, but you may benefit from learning more about local history, culture, and customs before you travel. Divemaster internship volunteers complete an initial training phase, during which you learn to accurately identify locally targeted fish or coral species. Training will involve snorkel and dive point outs with field staff, as well as learning about benthic coral and invertebrate.
Good to Know
Divemaster internship application requirements
You don’t need to have any specific diving skills to apply for the program, just an enthusiasm and passion for contributing to the project and the local partner objectives. You must be a comfortable and confident swimmer and be physically fit and healthy. In most cases, you will dive twice a day, six days a week, weather dependent. The PADI Advanced and Rescue Diver qualifications are done on base, while the Divemaster course takes place at our local dive shop partner. You will be assigned either fish or coral to study during your divemaster internship, and will be required to learn about the relevant species before going into the field.