My Experience as a Marine Conservation Intern

My Experience as a Marine Conservation Intern

My Experience as a Marine Conservation Intern

social media intern

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

The MCCR Impact Report

The MCCR Impact Report

 Our Impact over the last 4 years!

 

social media intern

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

social media intern

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!

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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.



Stay connected with MCCR and follow or support all the exciting achievements that are yet to come!

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Behind the Scenes with our Marine Biology Interns

Behind the Scenes with our Marine Biology Interns

Here at Marine Conservation Costa Rica, we have a number of opportunities available for those looking to make a difference to Marine wildlife. Hear about the experiences of two of our previous interns, Andre and Mary-Grace below.

What is the sea life like?

Andre

It’s a lot of fish. The visibility is not that good, so it is hard to see other animals. A lot of damsels farm and eat algae and surgeonfish. Occasionally you’ll see octopus, sharks and turtles but it is much rarer than the other common reef fish.

Mary-Grace

At Quepos it is very interesting. The diving is amazing and there are more surges, which makes it harder to dive. I feel like this makes you a more experienced diver because it is a challenge. In Caño the water is much more still and calm.

How would you describe the variety of sea life? Do they seem healthy and diverse?

Andre

The sea life is very diverse with a lot of different types of fish!

Mary-Grace

The animals here are quite diverse, we have seen a bunch of different fish like the butterfly fish and sergeant majors, sea slugs, and some crabs on the nursery corals.

How would you describe the Coral you see?

Andre

There is not a lot of reef building coral so generally, it’s pretty sparse. We see some of the branching coral and some of the bouldering coral which are big and look like boulders.

Mary-Grace

We have two types of corals: the branching and boulder corals. The branching coral grows like a tree, and the boulder coral grows on the ground.

Do you encounter Coral bleaching more than healthy reefs?

Andre

You definitely see a lot of both. At Caño Island there is definitely a lot of bleached coral but here in Quepos there is less bleached coral. A lot of the coral is fairly young, but you see a fair share of both.

Mary-Grace

Here in Quepos, we have some coral bleaching and coral disease, but we can’t tell which it is without doing research on it. We definitely do see coral bleaching, more at Caño Island than here in Quepos.

As a diver do you practice a marine conservation lifestyle? If so, what does this look like for you?

Andre

Yes, mostly using reusable plastics and bottles. I would also say making conscious choices of where you are throwing things away, so pollutants don’t end up in the ocean.

Mary-Grace

Personally, I try to be conservative about what I use such as avoiding single-use plastics. If I do I try to reuse them as much as possible. I will keep my trash collected until I am near a trash can to avoid it getting to the ocean.

Describe the process of new Coral colonies being planted.

Andre

I haven’t done much with the coral because I am with the marine conservation side but most of the coral are very small.

Mary-Grace

In the restoration program we find coral of opportunity which is coral floating around, and not breaking off coral from a healthy reef. From there we pull it out and fragment it (cut it a little) to help the growth accelerate. We let them grow in the nursery for a few months before planting them back onto the larger coral structure.

Describe the process of new Coral colonies being planted.

Andre

I haven’t done much with the coral because I am with the marine conservation side but most of the coral are very small.

Mary-Grace

In the restoration program we find coral of opportunity which is coral floating around, and not breaking off coral from a healthy reef. From there we pull it out and fragment it (cut it a little) to help the growth accelerate. We let them grow in the nursery for a few months before planting them back onto the larger coral structure.

What inspired you to be a diver?

Andre

I have always really liked the ocean since I was a kid so it is my plan to enter marine biology. Diving is very helpful for researching the ocean and its’ biology and is a big interest of mine.

Mary-Grace

For me, I have wanted to dive since I was young. I did a discovery course and realized I was too scared. With it being on my mind this past year, I finally decided to face my fears and did it. I quickly realized there was nothing to be scared of at all.

What inspired you to take action with Marine conservation?

Andre

I care about conservation in general, but diving is a part of it. Being out in nature and the environment is important because we as humans are a part of nature. It’s important because without it we would die too.

Mary-Grace

When I was little, my sister showed me the movie Blue Ocean and it showed me that our oceans need help with restoration. Corals are extremely important for the health of our oceans and that is why I want to take action and help build a healthy ocean.

Has anything surprised you?

Andre

The visibility was a little surprising at first. I’m always surprised when I see a lot of garbage at the dive sites. A lot of plastics are seen.

Mary-Grace

Yes, when diving in Quepos I was expecting a coral reef with lots of animals and abundant life. Instead, I saw a lot of emptiness which I wasn’t expecting. I was expecting more Great Barrier Reef style but that just isn’t the reality for most coral reefs.

During your time here, what was your most memorable experience?

Andre

Last week we saw a turtle that was swimming around us and as I swam back to my group it started chasing me out of its territory, so that was pretty cool.

Mary-Grace

My most memorable experience was last week when I found my first nudibranch. They’re barely an inch big and very hard to find. I was super excited to find my first one.

Like what you hear and Interested in taking part yourself? Just click the button below to read more about the Internships available to you!