Marine Research & Instructor Internship Program

Aimed at those looking to build a career in diving and conservation studies, this 3 month program provides platinum status scuba instructor training implemented with marine research programs currently being undertaken in Utila!

Bay Islands College of Diving and Whale Shark and Oceanic Research Center would like to introduce you to our Marine Research and Instructor Internship, offering you the training to become a certified PADI Instructor, combined with extensive experience in marine conservation.

Saving the planet, starts from the oceans and education is a big part of this. That is why our Marine Research and Instructor Internship is the perfect start to a long and successful career in marine conservation.

You’ll receive expert guidance and involvement in some of the world’s most cutting edge programs.

  • Phase 1: You will enroll in an extended-duration IDC of 14 days under a 6:1 ratio. This Instructor Development Course prepares you to become a PADI Dive Instructor.
  • Phase 2: This step is optional but highly recommended. In our Specialty Instructor program, we will train you on how to teach your favourite specialties. We have broad range of specialty instructor training courses with all time favourites such as Enriched Air, Wreck and Sidemount but can also include marine life and conservation oriented courses such as AWARE Fish ID, Underwater Naturalist, Dive Against Debris Instructor etc.
  • Phase 3: the following 2 months is an integration into WSORC, where you’ll begin training and data collection in benthic and fish monitoring studies, whale shark research and identification, lionfish regulation management, and introduction to how NGO’s operate within Marine Protected Areas.

Who will you work with?

PADI Platinum Course Directors Nick Derutter and Stephen J. Aynsley

The first three weeks of your program, you will be able to work with Nick or Stephen to be transformed into a well rounded Dive Instructor. Nick has trained over 1000 divers and spearheads the IDC as our resident PADI Course Director.

Having received many Awards of Excellence, this team of professional trainers is world class and will get you started on the path to SCUBA instruction.

WSORC Director Dan Hughes

Having grown up in rural England, at one of the furthest points from the sea; His love for the ocean developed at a young age, from annual trips to his uncle’s salmon farm on the Scottish coast. Even the fourteen-hour drive wouldn’t dull his enthusiasm to get back in the cold Atlantic water. This passion has developed in to a need to explore and understand the marine world. Having graduated with a degree in Marine Biology from Newcastle university, this passion has taken him to Madagascar, Fiji, Indonesia and South Africa to try and find ways to help our already degraded, but precious seas.

About the Instructor Development Course

At a maximum ratio of 6 candidates per staff member, you are in very good hands and under a magnifying glass during your PADI IDC. The program’s extended duration of 14 days gives you ample of time to get prepared for the Instructor Examination.

You will also get a chance to go through extra curricular workshops such as a PADI Digital Products Presentation (hey, the future is here) and an EVE (Electronic Virtual Employee) and PADI Pro’s Site workshop. This means you will enter your first job with all the experience and knowledge that is expected of a modern day PADI Scuba Instructor.

What’s Included?

  • Accommodation at our WSORC intern and volunteer house.
  • wifi access through out our facilities
  • Emergency Oxygen Provider Specialty Instructor course
  • Free diving for life
  • Hyperbaric Chamber Orientation and dry dive! (Only at BICD)
  • Field Neurological Exam distinctive specialty (with MSDT) (Only at BICD)
  • Sidemount try dive and discounted PADI Sidemount Instructor course after the IDC
  • Maximum of 6 students per Course Director (only at BICD)
  • 2 day IDC preparation program
  • Expanded IDC duration of 11 days (Only at BICD)
  • Language support in English, Spanish, Dutch, German & French (Only at BICD)
  • An IDC every month followed by a IE here on Utila
  • Specialty Instructor courses and MSDT Internship scheduled following the IE
  • Air conditioned IDC Conference room with full multimedia technology and internet access
  • Classrooms, training pool and boat docks all in one location (Only at BICD)
  • Extra confined & open-water workshops, extra knowledge development presentations
  • A full range of Instructor Career Packages and Counseling directly following IE
  • CV building, Career Planning and Employment Assistance

About the Marine Conservation Program

WSORC undertakes and assists in multiple research projects at any one time; from whale shark guideline introduction and identification techniques, monitoring coral and fish dynamics, to lionfish dissection classes. With new projects on the way, it’s difficult to give an exact agenda of what you will be involved with, as it depends on your date of arrival.

Guided by Dan, you will be given the opportunity to gain training and experience in the following areas detailed below.

Drone Whale Shark Tracking

Late 2015, WSORC teamed up with Liquid Robotics to commence a project using autonomous drones to follow acoustic transmitters tagged on whale sharks. The Wave Glider system harnesses wave and solar power to generate propulsion, with no excess emissions, and are capable of following transmissions for up to 2 years.

With large data sets being processed onboard, and real-time communication to our office, we’re able to create records, previously unknown, of whale shark’s precise behaviour here in the Caribbean, from migration routes, to feeding behaviour, and seasonal movements.

Whale Shark Monitoring

WSORC has been monitoring the distribution, abundance, and population demographics of whale sharks around the island of Utila since the late 1990’s. In addition to the data collected pertaining to size, sex, and behaviour of whale sharks, WSORC are building our own photo ID database of individuals using the photo recognition software i3s.

The software uses photographs of the spot patterning behind the gills of the shark, and any scar observations to distinguish individual whale sharks. WSORC also contributes information to the non-profit scientific organization Wild Book, which collates whale shark sightings from around the world and allows users to track movements of individuals across different countries.

REEF monitoring survey

WSORC’s Reef Monitoring Program, initiated in 2015, aims to further understand the ecological condition and development of the coral reef in Utila and create a database for possible comparison with other Caribbean sites undergoing the same local impacts and global challenges.

Benthic communities (living and non-living components), fish, and invertebrate populations are monitored and recorded in our database. For each category we identify the major functional groups understood to exert top-down control on reef dynamics and considered indicators of resilience; following methodologies based on ReefCheck and IUCN protocols.

Lionfish Management

Lionfish are beautiful but voracious predators, invasive to the Caribbean and present in the waters around Utila. They are known to eat native fish and crustaceans in large quantities, including economically important species such as snapper, nassau grouper and cleaner shrimp. Lionfish do not have natural predators in the Caribbean, and proliferate rapidly (females can reproduce every 4 days!). Due to this, they can outgrow native species with whom they compete for food and space.

WSORC has collaborated with Oxford University and Operation Wallacea to assist research into the lionfish epidemic here in the Caribbean. WSORC has created a training workshop for volunteers and interns to teach safe spearing techniques., and once or twice per week we send out our staff, research assistants, and volunteers on a designated lionfish hunting boat. This is followed by dissections and analysis of certain anatomical features used in research. All those interested in joining us here will be trained in both hunting and dissection techniques.