My Experience as a Marine Conservation Intern

My Experience as a Marine Conservation Intern

My Experience as a Marine Conservation Intern

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Hi I’m Mary, I’m 24 years old and I came over from South Australia after finishing a bachelor of science degree majoring in ecotourism.

I joined the coral reef restoration internship for four weeks because I was interested to learn more about restoration ecology and particularly how volunteer tourism can be employed to enhance restoration and conservation of the marine environment.

I also wanted to gain experience scuba diving and decided this internship would be a perfect fit for me given my previous experience and time availability as it provided good balance between learning more about diving and learning about the ecology of the reef and science behind restoration. 

What I did...

During my time with MCCR I learned about coral reef ecology and survey techniques, reef restoration, octopus awareness, nudibranch ecology, sponge ecology and fish identification, completing 4 PADI specialty courses.

From the first day Kat was incredibly welcoming and reassured me they could be flexible in adjusting to my schedule and interests to ensure I was getting the most out of my experience. The academics of the internship were taught by herself and Clem, both of whom have a lot of knowledge and experience in the field and the classes were delivered as more of an open discussion than a standard lecture.

Final Thoughts

Generally on the weekdays I would spend half a day diving and working through skills taught in class, the other half of the day was either spent working through the academics or I had free to explore the area or attend Spanish classes in Quepos.

I am very grateful for the time I spent with MCCR, I achieved the goals I set out with and now feel much more confident with my skills as a diver than I did before coming here.

I look forward to seeing their future projects and ongoing efforts to promote marine conservation!

Want to get involved ?

With all of the projects we work hard on throughout the year, we are always looking for help. You can get involved with one of our internship or volunteer programs.

Apply Now

Sustainable Tourists: The new way to Travel

Sustainable Tourists: The new way to Travel

How to be a Sustainable Tourist 

 

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If you’re interested in joining us in Costa Rica or elsewhere in the world, there are ways you can engage in tourism in a sustainable way! We’ll look at ways to travel sustainably and contribute to society while doing so in this article. 

Being a sustainable traveller is more important than ever in a world where the effects of tourism are becoming more and more obvious. As tourists, it is our duty to maintain the environment, respect native customs, and make a good impact on the places we visit. The future lies in sustainable tourism, which will prevent our wanderlust from harming the environment and its inhabitants. 

Research and Plan Mindfully

Planning your trip is the first step towards becoming a sustainable traveler. Do extensive research on your visit, taking into account any unique cultural or environmental aspects. Find out about local eco-friendly accommodations, sustainable tourism programs, and ethical tour operators. Make an attempt to comprehend the regional traditions and customs so that you can interact with respect and compassion.

Choose Eco-friendly Accommodation

Choose eco-friendly lodgings like eco-lodges, boutique hotels, or resorts that have been certified as sustainable. These businesses frequently engage in eco-friendly measures like conserving energy and water, giving back to the neighbourhood, and cutting trash. By staying at such establishments, you reduce your carbon footprint and inspire other companies to implement sustainable practices.

Travel light and minimise waste

When packing for your trip, consider the environmental impact of your luggage. To reduce the consumption of single-use plastics, choose reusable, eco-friendly items like water bottles, shopping bags, and toiletries containers. In order to prevent having to make unneeded purchases after you arrive, make sure to pack clothing for a variety of weather conditions. Travel waste reduction has a huge impact on sustainable tourism.

Respect local cultures

Sustainable tourism must be sensitive to cultural differences. The communities you visit have their own traditions, customs, and social mores; learn about them and respect them. Wear acceptable clothing, get consent before snapping pictures of people or their property, and support local artisans and businesses. Engage in cultural exchange, but do so with humility and respect.

Conserve resources

Choose responsible tours

One of the simplest ways to be a sustainable tourist is by conserving resources. Use water and electricity sparingly, and request that towels and linens be changed only when necessary to reduce laundry loads. Avoid supporting the illegal wildlife trade or buying products made from endangered species. Participate in moral wildlife interactions and aid in the preservation of sanctuaries.

When selecting tourism tours, it’s crucial to prioritize ethical options that align with your values. Look for tour operators and experiences that prioritize sustainability, respect for local communities, and environmental responsibility. Ethical tourism tours should offer opportunities for authentic cultural exchanges, adhere to responsible wildlife interactions, and support local economies. Verify if the tour operators have certifications or affiliations with reputable sustainable tourism organizations.

Participate in responsible Voluntourism

If you’re interested in voluntourism, research opportunities thoroughly and ensure they align with the community’s needs and your skills. Volunteering can be a rewarding way to give back, but it should be done with a focus on long-term benefits rather than just fleeting experiences.

Becoming a sustainable tourist is not just an individual choice; it’s a collective responsibility. By adopting eco-friendly practices, respecting local cultures, and supporting sustainable initiatives, we can reduce the negative impact of travel on the environment and communities. Sustainable tourism benefits everyone, ensuring that the destinations we love remain vibrant and beautiful for future generations to explore and enjoy. So, pack your ethical mindset along with your suitcase, and be a responsible traveller on your next adventure.

Want to get involved ?

With all of the projects we work hard on throughout the year, we are always looking for help. You can get involved with one of our internship or volunteer programs.

Apply Now

The MCCR Impact Report

The MCCR Impact Report

 Our Impact over the last 4 years!

 

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MCCR Impact 2019-23

Over the past 4 years, we’ve worked hard on what we do and are proud of what we’ve achieved so far. Read a small part below about our impact and click the link at the bottom to download the full report. 

We founded Marine Conservation Costa Rica in 2019 with a mission to work towards a healthier ocean through coral restoration, marine education and research. Our main project is to combat the deteriorating coral reef ecosystem in the Manuel Antonio area, we aim to restore this reef and educate the local community on how to preserve the ecosystem for future generations.

From our report, you’ll learn that, with 563 students reached from our local community and 1396 new coral colonies planted on our local reef. We are well on our way to making a difference, however, we could not have achieved this without our amazing staff, interns and volunteers. We thank you from the bottom of our hearts. Our supporters have put in 6020 volunteer hours.

But to make a difference to ocean health on a larger scale, we need your help….every little change that you can make will add up to a big difference! So change to eco-friendly products, shop sustainability, reduce your carbon footprint and support conservation projects, only if we all work together can a healthy ocean be a reality.

Thank you!

Georgia King and Katherine Evans

5x increase in Corals Outplanted to date

We reach the local community, directly, through our outreach to students in particular. However, many of our other actions indirectly assist the community where fishing is a vital part of their way of life. 

Since 2019, we’ve had 3,990 intern hours spent on coral restoration in particular. This commitment to the future of our oceans from volunteers around the world inspires us and we hope inspires many more too!

There are currently 3 ways in which we create an impact on the local marine environment, of which our largest project, the restoration of local coral colonies, is growing every year with the help of YOUR donations and our countless interns who volunteer their time to assist us in achieving our goals.

Our Mission statement reflects in everything we do, showing commitment to Sustainability and the Community; Our Oceans are important to our way of life and protecting them is our duty.

Apply Now

A Guide to the New MCCR Member Tiers

A Guide to the New MCCR Member Tiers

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This November, we’re launching our MCCR Member Program for your business to positively impact the local Marine Environment! Here’s why you should be interested…

By becoming a member, you are exposed to a range of benefits! You will get to contribute to environmental conservation and have the opportunity to expand the dive skills of you or your employees, all while learning how to take the proper measures to conserve our oceans. There are many benefits to becoming a member, but the most critical is that you are joining the efforts to conserve the marine environment around Manuel Antonio and beyond. 



Nudibranch

There are three levels of membership, each of which allows different yearly benefits. The Nudibranch is the basic level of membership, where members can get signage for your businesses, cross-marketing opportunities with MCCR, members-only quarterly newsletter, environmental education seminar for your staff and company, and so much more! As a Nudibranch member, you will first-hand contribute to the environmental conservation protection and projects we are working hard on. You will get to participate in various conservation projects such as coral reef restoration, beach cleanups, and wildlife monitoring.

Nudibranch level membership
seahorse membership

Seahorse

As a Seahorse member, the second level, you will receive signage for your business, cross-marketing opportunities with MCCR, members-only bi-monthly newsletter, environmental education seminar, 1 free coral restoration course for staff and members of your company, and 2 free entries for MCCR special events. You will contribute to the community and meet like-minded individuals that share a passion for marine conservation and diving. You will increase your dive skills and work with others in the community to preserve conservation and increase our efforts. 



Turtle

The highest level of membership is the Turtle. This includes everything mentioned above, with 1 more free coral restoration courses for staff and members of your company, and 2 more free entries for MCCR special events. These events will encourage your staff to learn about the ocean that surrounds us, and the urge to protect the wonderful biodiversity that Costa Rica is so proud of.

Turtle membership

As a corporate member, you will not only get to help us reach our goals, but you get to contribute to our community as well. Our Environmental Education Seminar will teach your staff about the various diverse marine ecosystems in Costa Rica, including coral reef, mangroves, and coastal habitats. We will highlight the unique biodiversity and ecological importance of the areas, and address current threats and real-life examples of the challenges we are facing. We will discuss corporate responsibility, explore the role of corporations in marine conservation, and create group action plans that you as a corporation and as an individual can partake in.

octopus Tier

Octopus

Not a business but want to play your part? Not to worry; the Octopus tier will be for you! You’ll also have discounts on MCCR merchandise receive access to the bi-monthly newsletter and of course, make your own positive impact on the local marine environment. This is on top of free access to our designated Education portal designed to teach you about Marine life and how you can be more sustainable in everyday life! You’ll have a username and password that’ll grant you access to all the resources available in the portal with regular updates of the materials available.



Have any questions or want to find out more? Contact us below!

12 + 4 =

The Story of MCCR

The Story of MCCR

The Story of MCCR 

Making the World a Better Place For All of Us

Marine life in Costa Rica - school of fish
Marine Conservation Costa Rica Team - Geotgia King and Katharine Evans

Meet Geo and Kat – an interview with the brilliant minds behind MCCR!

Marine Conservation Costa Rica (‘MCCR’) was founded by two best friends, Georgia “Geo” King and Katharine “Kat” Evans, in 2019. Their story is highly intriguing. This article based on individual interviews with the duo will enable you to get to know them and the story of MCCR a bit better!

 

Diving into the brains behind MCCR 

Geo

Geo and Kat are both originally from the UK and have been living in Costa Rica for 18 and 21 years, respectively. Geo first came to Costa Rica as she was completing her project for her masters degree. She then lived in Honduras for the first couple years after graduating and worked as a dive instructor before moving to Costa Rica and settling there. In 2009 Geo completed her course director program to be able to focus on developing the professional dive area in the country. Since then, she has been working as the manager and director of training of the Oceans Unlimited dive centre and finally took over ownership in November of 2022. Simultaneously, as co-founder of MCCR, Geo runs the dive centre and is responsible for the logistics and business side of things, that include brainstorming new projects, looking for ways to expand and exploring new avenues regarding fundraising.

KAT

Kat first came to Costa Rica in 2001 for a six month contract as a translator and project leader for a youth development charity working on environmental and adventure projects throughout Costa Rica and Nicaragua. During that time, she fell in love with Central America and ended up settling in Costa Rica. Kat has a BSc in Environmental Biology and has “worn many hats” throughout her career and has been a scientific officer, adventure guide, dive instructor,  and environmental consultant,, before taking on her role as co-founder and lead biologist on the coral restoration project at MCCR. Kat is also takes a lead in community outreach programs and heads up the coral restoration interns and researchers..

The ‘Birth’ of MCCR…

Geo and Kat have known each other long before they founded MCCR together in 2019. They worked together in a dive shop and grew increasingly frustrated with difficulties regarding the implementation of various projects and reef restoration. They wanted to achieve more and came to the realisation that if they wanted to see a serious change and restore the reef and local area, they would need to take matters into their own hands and take a leap of faith by creating the non-profit in Manuel Antonio.

And working together

Both Geo and Kat had little to no concerns at all about starting an organisation together, as, at that point, they had known each other for over 15 years. Of course, they were aware that working with someone can sometimes change or strain a friendship, but the fact that they knew each other so well, knew each other’s strengths and weaknesses and went through a multitude of life changing events together such as kids, friendships and loss, already set them up for success. Geo and Kat never strictly defined their roles in the organisation, they just “fell into place” and each co-founder now has different areas of responsibility, where they don’t get “into each other’s pockets”, which is one of the reasons why they think they get on so well.

MCCR is still a very young organisation, especially when taking the pandemic into account. The organisation’s main mission is to foster marine conservation through education and action. Currently, there are two main projects that are being developed.

The coral restoration project is the main focus of MCCR that deals with growing coral fragments in ocean nurseries and later outplanting them into the reef. The local reef remains closely monitored to observe any changes and developments stemming from the coral restoration project, and there are hopes to soon expand into a new permanent reef structure project. The positive impact that the project has already had on increasing the biodiversity and abundance of fish species shows the true importance of keeping it up and running.

Furthermore, MCCR engages in environmental education, focusing on teaching school children in various classes at local schools to increase awareness and knowledge on marine conservation topics and problems. Additionally, the non-profit also runs kids camps, organises regular community education talks and workshops, as well as courses for adults about coral restoration and reef research survey techniques.



MCCR is increasingly welcoming interns and volunteers to help with various aspects of the organisation. Since the organisation is still so young, the help that is provided by the interns is very greatly appreciated and is used to help the organisation grow and expand to be able to create a bigger impact. Kat emphasises that it has been a great experience so far and that they “have had so many amazing passionate students. It’s been fantastic to carry out more research into wider areas on the reef, it’s very exciting”.

Geo notes that one of the aspects that is especially great about being an intern at MCCR is that the interns get housed with local families in the area, all located near each other. The community and friendships that are formed among interns and their host families are priceless and have proven to make for an unforgettable experience for all interns who come to Quepos.

Since MCCR is a non-profit organisation, it relies heavily on funding from running the various courses, the successful “adopt a coral” program and donations from a couple of local companies.

The Effect of the Pandemic.

As with almost everywhere around the globe, the pandemic greatly affected MCCR and “slammed the brakes on everything”. Initially, Geo and Kat were not allowed to take trips out to the coral nurseries to check on their younglings. Even though this caused some rather large worries in the beginning, everything worked out well and all corals were alive and well.

On the other hand, Geo believes the pandemic might have even helped the organisation in some ways. It taught people to think outside the box and many people had the chance to reflect and think about spending their time more meaningfully by giving back. Organisations like MCCR, became more visible and therefore also gained more traction and support. The pandemic also demonstrated even more how people can make a difference, for example with the impact of less traffic and travel.

What the Future could look like.

Geo and Kat are thrilled with what they have been able to achieve so far in the few years since founding MCCR. The projects are gathering momentum and, with the new additions of permanent staff, the duo is very hopeful and excited to expand their organisation. Some goals they have set are to develop an education centre to be able to reach a wider audience, enhance the local volunteer program,  set in motion the permanent reef structure project, expand coral nurseries and start growing corals in tanks on land to have even more of an impact.

When asked about their attitude and outlook on climate change and the current state of the environment, both Geo and Kat agreed that even if we might not be able to reverse climate change, we are still able to slow and stop it.

Kat states:I think we can make a change, if each individual can do just one thing, it will make a difference, we don’t have to be perfect eco-warriors, it’s everyone’s responsibility. The time to make a difference is right now, even the smallest thing can help conserve our beautiful planet.

Geo has a similar take saying that everything you do, no matter how small you believe it is, can have a big impact. Watching the reef change for the better here in Manuel Antonio over this short period of time has shown me that.



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