Guardians of the Sea: Marine Conservation Internships

Guardians of the Sea: Marine Conservation Internships

Guardians of the Sea:

How Marine Conservation Interns Make a Difference

Why is Marine Conservation so Important?

Our reefs are extremely vulnerable ecosystems that are essential to Earth’s survival. 

The ocean regulates our climate by acting as the world’s largest carbon sink and providing half of our oxygen. It has the ability to combat the negative effects of climate change by absorbing over 90% of the excess heat in the atmosphere, assisting in the regulation of land temperatures.

The ocean supplies a large percentage of our animal protein, especially in less developed countries that rely heavily on seafood as a source of food.

3 billion people depend on the ocean for their livelihoods, from fisheries to tourism, the ocean contributes significantly to many industries and fuels the economy with over $3 trillion annually.

Climate action depends on a healthy ocean, which requires urgent action.

Through impactful marine education and proactive initiatives, you can help us protect and nurture Costa Rica’s marine biodiversity while revitalizing crucial ecosystems.

Programs

Embark on an unforgettable experience with Marine Conservation Costa Rica, where you can dive into the heart of ocean conservation and make a real difference! Whether you’re a seasoned diver, looking to learn, or are passionate about marine life, our range of internships and volunteering programs offer extraordinary opportunities to explore and protect the underwater world like never before. Our array of programs accommodates various timeframes, offering flexibility to suit your schedule.

Coral Restoration Internship:

Join us on an unforgettable adventure where you’ll dive into the depths of coral restoration. With your PADI open water certification in hand, you’ll spend 2 weeks to 1 month alongside our dedicated MCCR team. Don’t worry if you don’t have your open water certification, you can easily complete this with us once you arrive! You will be immersed into our coral restoration project, where you’ll play an active role in maintaining coral nurseries and gathering crucial data on their health. Get ready to make a splash and be part of something truly remarkable!

Diving Volunteer Program:

For those who are looking for something a little less intense, our diving volunteer program offers a great opportunity to dive and get involved with community education projects, allowing you to make a difference both underwater and on land. Start your month-long journey with the PADI Coral Restoration Specialty course, and then dive into nursery maintenance and reef research alongside our passionate team. But that’s not all – you’ll also have the chance to get involved in community education projects or simply soak up the sun and explore the stunning beauty of Costa Rica’s coastline. Get ready for an adventure like no other!

Eco Divemaster Program:

Dreaming of turning your passion for diving into a meaningful career? Look no further! Combine your love for the ocean with professional dive training as you embark on an exciting volunteering experience with us. Whether you choose to become a PADI Divemaster or Instructor, you’ll gain valuable skills while making a positive impact on marine conservation. 

Non-Diving Internship:

At Marine Conservation Costa Rica, we’re not just about diving – we’re about making waves in marine conservation. Join us in our mission to protect and preserve our precious oceans. Learn more about sustainable tourism and business with hands-on experience in our operations. 

What Would I Be Doing?

Diving interns at MCCR don’t just dive into the ocean – they dive into adventure! 

From the moment they join us, interns become integral members of our team, greeting clients, helping organize equipment, loading boats, and then it’s time to dive in! From fun recreational dives to hands-on research activities including coral restoration, naturalism and harvesting and outplanting coral, interns get to experience it all. They master essential skills such as search and recovery, navigation, and more while expanding their knowledge through fish identification and honing their buoyancy control.  But it’s not all deep dives and research – interns also assist in leading snorkelling tours and exciting coral fragmentation projects. With every dive, interns play a vital role in protecting our oceans and marine life. 

Non-diving interns at MCCR are crucial to shaping the future of marine conservation. From collaborating on marketing initiatives to spreading awareness about marine conservation in local schools, interns play a vital role in educating and inspiring others. They’re involved in creating engaging educational resources and leading programs for kids that foster a deeper understanding of our oceans. Even without diving, interns have the chance to learn about critical processes like coral restoration and fragmentation, gaining valuable insights into marine ecosystem preservation. But the best part? Interns are encouraged to unleash their creativity and explore their specific skills and interests, making each experience uniquely rewarding. 

Join us and become a driving force in protecting our oceans for generations to come!

What Are We Currently Working On?

Interns at MCCR lead impactful projects that showcase our dedication to marine conservation. 

One of these projects is the creation of an impact report, highlighting our achievements and future goals towards protecting and restoring our oceans.

Additionally, our coral fragmentation and outplanting efforts are a company-wide initiative, with every member playing a meaningful role in restoring our reefs in Costa Rica. From harvesting to fragmenting to outplanting, every intern is involved in some way.

To further engage the community, we’ve constructed a coral tank to showcase the restoration process and raise awareness about our important work. With a continuous flow of new and ongoing projects, interns always have opportunities to contribute to our cause and make a difference. 

At MCCR, community involvement is at the heart of what we do. Whether it’s organizing beach clean-ups or participating in turtle releases, there’s always an opportunity to make a positive impact. We believe in actively contributing to the well-being of our community and the conservation of our natural environment. 

By Mayella Bignell

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

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!

9 + 14 =

Global issue of Coral Bleaching

Global issue of Coral Bleaching

The Global issue of Coral Bleaching

Imagine this, you are on vacation and pay good money to scuba dive in the wonders of the sea. You are thrilled to see an abundance of the world below us, filled with happy ecosystems, baby sea turtles, huge sharks and incredible colors. To your surprise, the ocean lacks its beauty and majestic glow. The coral isn’t its vibrant, healthy self but instead decaying and dull. There are far less fish and aquatic plants than expected, and instead you find yourself surrounded in a never-ending vast blue, longing for the return of a lively reef.

Unpleased and disappointed, you question what happened and how you can help, thankfully the Marine Conservation Costa Rica (MCCR) is actively striving to educate and take action.

What is Coral Bleaching?

Due to global warming increasing the temperature of the sea, coral eject zooxanthellae, (the symbiotic algae that lives in most hard corals and provides the coral with most of its energy to build reefs). With the zooxanthellae gone, the coral’s beautiful colors fade and turn white. This process is called coral bleaching.

The good news is the loss of color does not mean the coral has died, it is still alive and can survive a bleaching but undergoes stress and is much more vulnerable. Coral can recover from bleaching if the ocean’s previous conditions return to normal, and zooxanthellae in reabsorbed. By adapting to a lifestyle focused on reducing global warming, we will help regrow those reefs and see them thrive again.

coral bleaching

How Global Warming Hurts Coral

Global warming has become a widespread issue across the world, and unfortunately the ocean has been the number one victim. The sea life thrives in a specific climate and temperature range, with little to no wiggle room. When the ocean begins to warm up, even just a couple of degrees, living organisms struggle to survive. Thus, leaving the coral lifeless with only the calcium carbonate skeleton remaining. Now what was once a lush and thriving community of organisms is a bare and lifeless area of sand and coral skeletons.

Pavona gigantea - Corals of Costa Rica

Why does Coral Matter?

Coral may look like a simple plant, however, it is actually a sessile animal that relies on the oceans floor and algae to thrive. A healthy reef provides an entire community for its residents to live, eat and be protected. It is home to millions of varied species like fish, algae, crab, clams, seahorses and turtles. Without it, essentials like food, shelter, and biodiversity would become scarce resulting in food-web changes and relocating or dying of needed species.

How are we Affected?

The health of coral is significant to the health of our earth and humans. Since coral reefs are the center for ecosystems in the ocean and supply the food chains, we are losing food too. For us, they are vital for feeding many coastal populations of people since they provide us with most of the seafood we eat.

Furthermore, coral reefs play a significant role in protecting our precious coastlines and beaches. During the time of storms or natural disasters like hurricanes, the reefs act as a barrier to protect land from flooding and erosion.

Coral reef research

Simultaneously, coral reefs do an excellent job of storing carbon dioxide, which aids in the regulation of carbon dioxide in our atmosphere. As you can see, coral reefs hold many responsibilities to organisms of all levels.

Just as we rely on coral reefs, they are dependent on us! It is now our turn to take a closer look at how we as humans are treating our wonderful corals and helping rebuild their sustainability in the natural world.

Respect the coral reefs.

Written by Danielle Brittle

What Does it Takes to be a Coral Restoration Warrior?

What Does it Takes to be a Coral Restoration Warrior?

coral restoration

In the current fracturing state of our natural world, the three different approaches to defending Earth’s ecosystems include preservation, conservation, and restoration. While they all have the common goal of sustaining Earth’s diverse and natural beauty, their methodologies differ. For instance, preservation defends what is left of the wild world, conservation prevents future damage to what currently exists, and restoration rebuilds what has been broken. All of these are incredibly necessary, but the one that is the most heart-wrenching is restoration. 

Restoration projects all over the globe are proof that we are living amidst damaged ecosystems. As a result, this type of work is not for the weary or the doubtful. Restorators are Mother Nature’s warriors, not afraid to salvage what is crumbling before their eyes. Instead of weeping at what the fire has burned, restorators are the ones running into the flames of human-induced destruction with a bucket of water. While much has been burned and lost, restorators choose to look at what is left and what has survived against the odds. The same holds true with coral restoration work. Since the 1950s, studies have found that 50% of global coral reef coverage has been lost. Yet hundreds of coral restoration campaigns dispersed throughout the oceans worldwide show the persistence of the human spirit to defend and rebuild what we hold dear.  

coral polyp

This optimism that restorators cling to is the foundation of the work itself, understanding that “every drop in the ocean counts”- Yoko Ono. While this work is oftentimes slow and tedious, the successes deserve recognition, for they are the drops filling up the ocean. Diving in Manuel Antonio with Marine Conservation Costa Rica’s coral restoration internship one gets to witness the coral rehabilitation process from the ground up. Corals are harvested and propagated on plugs where they are given time and space to grow in the nurseries. Here they undergo nurturing care, weekly cleanings with toothbrushes, and continuous assessment of their health. After they have proven themselves to be hearty and healthy sprouts, the corals are ready to be planted in the wild. This aspect is arguably the most fulfilling part of coral restoration work– having the opportunity to cultivate young and hopeful corals back into the environments that desperately rely on them. 

 The work of a coral gardener is this constant dualism– swimming through ecosystems of  chalky, gray corals while planting new plugs full of life, color, and promise. 

coral restoration work

This optimism that restorators cling to is the foundation of the work itself, understanding that “every drop in the ocean counts”- Yoko Ono. While this work is oftentimes slow and tedious, the successes deserve recognition, for they are the drops filling up the ocean. Diving in Manuel Antonio with Marine Conservation Costa Rica’s coral restoration internship one gets to witness the coral rehabilitation process from the ground up. Corals are harvested and propagated on plugs where they are given time and space to grow in the nurseries. Here they undergo nurturing care, weekly cleanings with toothbrushes, and continuous assessment of their health. After they have proven themselves to be hearty and healthy sprouts, the corals are ready to be planted in the wild. This aspect is arguably the most fulfilling part of coral restoration work– having the opportunity to cultivate young and hopeful corals back into the environments that desperately rely on them. 

 The work of a coral gardener is this constant dualism– swimming through ecosystems of  chalky, gray corals while planting new plugs full of life, color, and promise. 

Although restoring what is broken can be disheartening at times, the hope of a future filled with vibrant, flourishing corals for succeeding generations to relish in outweighs the gloom. Herein lies what it takes to be a restoration warrior, in a world that desperately needs restoring.

Because restoration efforts are consistently bombarded with threats and casualties to what they attempting to protect, it is important to maintain a hopeful mindset. As restoration workers, one must understand and balance the duality of our dying yet adaptive world. In the world of scuba diving, the health of the coral reef ecosystems is noticeable with every dive. On one hand, there is abundant life and miraculous creatures thriving under the sea, while on the other hand there are countless signs warning of irreversible destruction and sickly coral reefs.

The more one learns about coral reefs, what threatens them, and what a diseased coral looks like the harder it is to disregard these truths– hence exposing the burden of knowledge. It is impossible not to notice the pink pimples and white scarring revealing the stress the reefs are enduring. As a diver you also witness firsthand the bleached, decaying corals, and grasping the full weight of these hard truths only adds to the pressure already felt underwater. In order to sustain the hope that keeps restorators moving, making space for the realities of resilience and fatality is a practice that all of us can learn as we cope with the current warming state of our one and only planet.    

outplanting corals

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A Deep Dive into Reefs: Why Protecting Corals Advocates for Human Survival

A Deep Dive into Reefs: Why Protecting Corals Advocates for Human Survival

Pavona gigantea - Corals of Costa Rica

Coral reefs in Peril

Coral reefs, polar bears, pandas and sea turtles are adored across cultures and known as the poster children of climate change. While each of these organisms has a difficult journey of survival ahead, the ancient coral reefs have arguably been suffering degradation since the 70’s. Coral reefs have been around for some 50 million years, outliving the dinosaurs and witnessing the birth of all other forms of complex life. These organisms represent the beauty and interconnectivity of our world. They are the foundations of coastal ecosystems, their rainbow collages attracting a diverse interaction of plants and animals. Yet the recent decline and death of coral reefs sends a shocking message at what we risk to lose if business continues as usual.

Oceans Heating Up

It is common knowledge that ocean temperatures are heating up, and although this represents one of the many threats to these delicate structures it is far from being the only one. Corals are also affected by the pollutants that find their way into rivers and streams from pesticides used to maximize crop yield. In addition to these silent killers polluting the water cycle, habitat destruction from coastal construction and the overly extractive fishing industry threatens the health of reefs. Finally, maybe the most dangerous of all is our addiction to fossil fuel consumption and the smoky trail of carbon dioxide we humans leave in our backwash.

Although the ocean is able to absorb a quarter of carbon dioxide emitted, there are still consequences to our incessant gobbling. In this simmering hotbed our corals are surviving in, their first stress response is to dispel their food source, the algae. As they lose these plants and subsequently their coloration, the surrounding organisms also feel the loss as their food source depletes. The stressed corals turn a skeletal white, and as the bleaching continues, they eventually turn as gray as tombstones. 

bleached coral
coastal development

Pressure on the reefs

Though reefs thrive in coastal paradises where conditions are idyllic and picturesque, the beauty of these habitats is a double-edged sword. As demand for these utopias increases, so does the pollution and runoff from development and tourism. As more people develop in and around the tropics, the pollution which comes with development and human consumption also grows. With this logic, it is no surprise that coastal communities are among the first to feel the effects of climate change

While the climate crisis often-times feels like a looming catastrophe, protecting coral reefs would trigger a chain reaction in sustaining the local ecosystems both above and beneath the ocean.  The urgency needed to preserve the remaining survivors can be grasped by painting a stark picture of what our world risks to lose with the extinction of coral reefs. A coral-less future would mean 6 million reef fishers without work; a net loss of $9.6 billion dollars to the tourism industry; 1 million marine species with no place to live, spawn, or feed; coastal communities with no natural protection against storms, tsunamis, flooding, and erosion; not to mention the incalculable loss of potentially life-saving medicines researchers discover in these underwater medicine cabinets (Basic Information About Coral Reefs). In short, our world without corals is hardly even a world at all. What are we without the very life that supports our human existence? 

coral bleaching
dead coral reefs

Dark situation

With less than 50% of coral reefs already dead, these submerged skeletons serve as a foreboding message: to save the coral reefs is to save ourselves.We are at a crucial moment in history, and our response to  the climate crisis is pivotal, but passivity is the most dangerous option of all. 

Although our current situation may feel dark, resilience is our silver lining. Coral restoration projects are underway across the globe helping to stabilize reefs. Restoration efforts assist in maintaining the base populations of coral species, giving more time for corals to adapt to changing conditions. This type of recovery work, however, will not restore reefs to their pristine state. Instead it buys time for the corals to adapt. That being said, restoration is most effective in conjunction with fishing quotas, Marine Protected Areas, and individual actions. 

coral internship

So what can you do?

That being said, there is a wide range of behaviors you can do that can reduce your negative impact on our planet. The following list includes suggested actions that the coral reefs, polar bears, pandas, and sea turtles need from all of us:

 

  1. Participate in Coral Restoration

– Take part in a Coral Internship 

– Enhance your knowledge of marine life with a Coral Reef Research Certification

  1. Be a conscious tourist

– Use Reef Friendly sunscreen 

– Be a Responsible Snorkeler and Scuba Diver: Never touch or harm corals/marine life 

  1. Support environmentally friendly companies 

–  Purchase organic products 

– Buy from sustainable fisheries (or avoid eating animal products altogether!) 

  1. Measure and manage your impact

Calculate your carbon footprint

– Practice zero waste living and stop using plastic bags!

  1. Raise awareness 

– Talk with your family, friends, and coworkers about the climate crisis

– Establish sustainability action groups in your school/work and come up with solutions in your own communities

 

Written by Anna Patton

Anna Love is a writer, biologist, advocate, massage therapist, and scuba diver. She writes about environmental movement, healing work, and science fiction. When she is not playing sand volleyball or reading, you can likely find her practicing handstands or meditating. —
Anna Lovelace Patton
anna.patton15@gmail.com

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