Conservation Research Assistant Program in Mexico
97% Rating
(6 Reviews)

Conservation Research Assistant Program in Mexico

Operation Wallacea is a research and environmental organisation, working alongside university and college academics to build long term datasets to put towards various conservation management goals. We recruit volunteers to help out with the data collection, and train them in the skills and background that's needed to help effectively. There's also the option to complete dissertations or senior theses at our sites.

The Mexico project has both marine and terrestrial components, being based in either Akumal Bay or the Calakmul biosphere reserves. The Calakmul projects are based around assessing the biodiversity of the reserve by surveying a number of key groups - butterflies and moths, reptiles, amphibians, birds, bats, and large mammals. Volunteers can get involved with each of these surveys, while being based around a site centred on an ancient Mayan city.

The marine project at Akumal is looking at the coral reefs using stereo-video surveys, as well as turtle populations.

Locations
North America » Mexico
Length
2-4 Weeks
1-3 Months
Language
English
Starting Price
$0.00
Currency
USD

Questions & Answers

Program Reviews

  • Impact
    93%
  • Support
    90%
  • Fun
    80%
  • Value
    92%
  • Safety
    88%

Program Reviews (6)

Default avatar
Alita
Male
24 years old
Calgary
University of Calgary

The Best Thing I've Done.

10/10

This trip was the first time I left my country and it was more than I could've imagined. I am so grateful for this experience; for finally exploring a foreign country, for the chance to experience being a field scientist and for the wonderful time I had doing it all. Gaining my first experience in my field of study, Zoology, firmly cemented that this is what I want to do for the rest of my life.
I thought the staff members were all very caring, helpful, friendly and reasonable. I went to Mexico for the turtles but am so glad I spent two weeks in the jungle, first. The diversity in the Yucatan peninsula is astonishing and so beautiful. I can't imagine how regretful I would be if I did not spend time in that vast, green sea of endless jungle. Standing on the top of the Ruins and seeing only blue sky and the dense, bright green jungle meeting at the horizon was mind blowing. Diving to the coral reefs was unlike anything I've ever seen in my life, so beautiful. I will never forget when a massive stingray swam right passed our group. Nor will I ever forget the very inspiring people I met on this trip. I recommend it to anyone and everyone.

Default avatar
Kyle
Male
21 years old
Mississauga
University of Guelph

Mexico 2015

10/10

My time in Mexico can only be discribed as amazing. The staff and the other volunteers were amazing people and really made the trip. I actually travelled with one of the friends I made in Mexico to Honduras this past year and we spent a couple of months there getting our dive masters. I would never have done this without my opwall trip and for that I am forever thankful. Not only did this trip introduce to me to the world of diving but it made me want to further explore the field of science.

Default avatar
Leila
Female
21 years old
stratford upon avon

Operation Wallacea - Mexico

10/10

I was apprehensive and nervous to embark on the trip with group from my school as I have never been on a long haul flight and never been outside of europe before. But I have to say that the experience is the best thing that I have ever done. I would recommend it to anyone who wants to experience a whole new way of life and wants to make a difference somewhere. I felt valued and helpful as part of the team and enjoyed every aspect of the conservation activities. I earnt my PADI diving qualification and felt like I was a better person by the end of the trip. I would recommend anyone to just go for it and throw yourself into the deep end as I am so glad I did. The team out in Mexico were amazing and welcomed us into the Operation Wallacea family. It was so organised and efficient, so we really got the most out of our trip.

How can this program be improved?

I can't think of anything I would have done differently about the trip.

Matthew
Male
22 years old
Merthyr Tydfil

Mexico Dissertation Student

10/10

I was on the terrestrial site for 6 weeks to collect data for my undergraduate dissertation. I absolutely loved every moment, and achieved a great project at the end. There is brilliant project support from the moment you sign up to the moment you hand in your dissertation.

You will be able to climb the ruined Mayan temples of Calakmul and look out across a sea of green. An awesome experience. Some of the wildlife in the Calakmul Biosphere Reserve are spider monkeys, howler monkeys, jaguar, Baird's tapir, peccaries, toucans, and crocodiles. Surveys include mist netting for birds & bats, mammal track transects, and reptile surveys.

There are four terrestrial camps scattered around and you may have chance to visit several; I stayed at three. Accommodation is in tents so bring a sleeping mat and bag. The food is fantastic and sitting down as a big group to eat is great. There are extra activities organised such as movie night and there is always a surprise when it's someone's birthday.

Default avatar
Lyndsay
Female
22 years old
Dublin
Other

Mexico 2016

9/10

I did my dissertation with Opwall on the birds of the Calakmul forest, and so was lucky enough to visit all 4 camps during my 6 weeks there.

The accommodation is pretty basic - bring an inflatable roll mat if you can and not a yoga mat, after 5 weeks of sleeping on the ground your back will thank you! It has everything you need though, even the most remote camp 'Dos Naciones' has all the essential stuff and you get to sleep in hammocks there which was pretty awesome. You get to bucket shower at least once every 2 days in all of the camps except for Dos Naciones - but nobody really cares, you sweat so much it doesn't matter! The food is mostly rice and beans type meals, you get chicken probably 3 or 4 times a week if not more - and I managed fine as a vegetarian!

If you volunteer as a research assistant you get to try your hand at all the different research activities going on each day. From fighting your way through the forest in a habitat survey to waking up for the sunrise to go out birding to sitting on a tarpaulin at 2 in the morning looking at the stars during a bat survey. My advice to anyone going to volunteer is to get stuck in! You are in the depths of the Mexican forests! Try every single activity, get up for those early morning bird sessions even if you just want to hit snooze when that alarm goes off - you may get to catch a Toucan in the mist nets like we did!

I would say that you need to be of moderate fitness to really enjoy some of the more intense transects/camps.

Overall a most excellent experience, and it's the staff that really make the experience of Opwall. They are each so interested in their own topic of research so it is an awesome opportunity to gain some in depth knowledge from these experts! They are also super friendly!

I would definitely recommend Operation Wallacea, it is an unforgettable experience!

Default avatar
Beth
Female
21 years old
BRISTOL

Overall a great trip!

9/10

I visited Mexico for four weeks with Operation Wallacea, for a total cost (including flights) of around £2000. During this time, I spent 2 weeks at the Calakmul biosphere reserve taking part in biodiversity surveys of the animals in the area. I then spent two weeks in Akumal gaining my PADI Open Water certificate and taking part in coral reef surveys.

Due to the compulsory lecture series and the heavy focus on biodiversity monitoring and conservation, I would only recommend this trip to aspiring biologists/zoologists, as for myself and many others it has provided invaluable work experience, but I can see little gain for those studying other subjects at university.

I had the chance to see some amazing wildlife and gained some incredible experiences and life-long friends.

How can this program be improved?

Some of the staff were too strict and often we felt as though we were treated more as children rather than as voluntary research assistants.

About The Provider

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Operation Wallacea is a network of academics from European and North American universities, who design and implement biodiversity and conservation management research programmes. Research is supported by students who join the programme, to strengthen their CV or resume or collect data for a dissertation or

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