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Combine professional PADI scuba diving qualifications with marine conservation training in Mexico. This six month PADI Dive Master internship allows you to receive various PADI certifications and conduct crucial marine conservation research on the world's second largest barrier reef.
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- Develop survey skills
- Dive qualifications
- Ecological Research
PADI Dive Master Internship and Marine Conservation Training in Mexico
This 6 month long scuba diving internship starts with a 12 week marine conservation expedition to develop your understanding of marine conservation and to further or establish your scuba diving skills. You will learn how to live and work with a research team in a remote environment and get the essential skills for your subsequent 12 weeks work placement. During your placement you will be based at a PADI dive centre where you will take your PADI Dive Master course, further advanced training courses, shadow Dive centre staff and help the dive centre with all its commercial operations such as taking clients diving, equipment maintenance and marine conservation lectures. Its a fantastic way to enter the world of professional diving or have a life changing experience. At the end of your placement you may be offered paid or unpaid work.
We also offer a four week program for those looking for a shorter alternative. If you want to get up and go but don't have six months - our marine conservation expedition is the program for you.
Padi Dive Master Internship in Mexico
The project base lies within the Sian Ka'an Biosphere Reserve. The data obtained here provides an invaluable baseline to assess the health of reefs found in a pristine location. From the beginning, and with the assistance of partners, our associates have amassed one of the largest databases in existence on the condition, health and changes of any section of the Mesoamerican Barrier Reef. This data is now being used to promote the management of the reserve’s resources in a more sustainable manner. As a result of work conducted on this program, a variety of changes have been implemented in the area, including educating local fishermen, increasing development controls and creating signs to educate visitors about the fragile ecosystem.
Your first 12 week phase is spent as a normal Smaller Earth volunteer. Then you will join one of our host dive centres for 12 weeks to give you a taster of the real dive world. During the PADI Divemaster program, you learn dive leadership skills through both classroom and independent study. You complete water skills and stamina exercises, as well as training exercises that stretch your ability to organize and solve problems.
Divemaster certification covers Knowledge Development (12 sections), water skills and Stamina (including an evaluation of the 18 required skills to Demonstration Quality), and Practical Application.
This section covers 12 topics and prepares the DM intern for a supervisory role, with the academic knowledge required to fully understand and assist with all aspects of PADI courses and independently conduct experience programs. Independent Study (using the Workbook and Encyclopedia) is critical in this portion of the course. A complete understanding of this material will enable the candidate to successfully complete the Divemaster Final Exams.
Knowledge on topics such as Tables, Standards and Procedures, Diving Skills, and Assisting with Students in Training, among others, are all covered in the Divemaster course manual, as well as manuals from the Rescue, Advanced and Open Water Courses. Candidates will therefore find copies of these manuals useful in the Divemaster course.
Water Skills and Stamina
This portion of the course tests the candidate in all areas of in-water fitness and proficiency. The Skill Circuit covers all the skills learned in the Open Water Course and must be developed to 'demonstration quality', i.e. the Divemaster candidate must be able to display each skill clearly, such that a Student would be able to understand the mechanics of the skill and repeat them.The candidate must also complete: a 400m Swim; an 800m Snorkel Swim; a 100m Tired Diver Tow; and the Diver Rescue Assessment. These tests are scored but there is no time limit; they are designed to test stamina and ability rather than speed.
This section builds the skills that are specific to a supervisory role. As well as assignments designed to build problem solving and leadership skills. The internship provides the candidate with experience in assisting with actual courses conducted by a certified PADI instructor.
The cooking and general camp maintenance are shared between everybody. The group is divided into four who will do kitchen duty every four days. When you are not on kitchen duty, you will either be on boat duty (kitting up the boat for that day’s diving) or on ground duty (which involves raking the grounds and the beach). All of this contributes to the smooth running of the camp; keeping the base looking tidy and reducing the sand fly and ant problems.
Volunteers will be trained in how to use the compressor, and everyone takes it in turns to help fill the dive tanks for the next day’s diving. Everyone also takes it in turns to enter the research data that we have collected, which is then handed over to our in-country partners for analysis. Yet we will perform our own analysis of the data as well. Each volunteer will be responsible for other aspects of expedition life, which ranges from being dive and boat monitor to being food monitor or the much sought after rubbish monitor!
We work Monday morning to Saturday afternoon, which is followed by an end-of-the-work Saturday night barbeque. The weekend lasts from Saturday afternoon to Sunday evening. At the weekend you are free to do what you want, so you could stay on the base to relax in a hammock and enjoy the local village or take the local bus out and visit some different parts of Mexico.
Volunteers can expect to do one to two dives per day, six days a week (weather depending), to assess the health of the Mesoamerican barrier reef system collecting data on fish, coral and other benthos. The first three weeks are always the hardest as volunteers have to push themselves to learn both the diving skills and the marine survey skills required to assist in the collection of data to a quantifiable level. In addition to the underwater work, volunteers will rotate between projects to take some time away from the hard diving work, in which you may spend some of your time participating in additional projects such as those listed in the initial expedition section.
It is important to note that the community work program does not begin until week three of a ten week expedition, to allow for all the dive and science training which generally takes up a lot of time.
After your first 12 weeks you will have developed the necessary skills to successfully undertake a work placement at a local dive centre. All dive centers are carefully vetted by our partners in Mexico to ensure you have the best training and work experience opportunities. They are very well known on the Caribbean coast of Mexico and dive centers are keen to host Smaller Earth Interns as you will have just obtained very useful knowledge in marine conservation, responsible diving and leadership. For the next 12 weeks you will develop further skills (many professional qualifications), practice leadership scenarios and help dive centre staff with the day to day running of the dive shop. After you have completed your dive master training you will help staff with the general running of the dive centre and practice your new found skills. This is a great chance to practice and learn leadership techniques, PADI divemastering, equipment maintenance and advanced marine survey skills. Throughout these 12 weeks you will have support from the program staff.
- Develop your personnel management, leadership, marine conservation and professional scuba diving skills
- Live and work on a remote jungle base with incredible wildlife
- Waking up to the deserted white-sand beach and turquoise Caribbean sea
- Learning about the reef and how to identify the fish or coral you see
- Take part in monitoring dives to explore different sites along the coast
- Being the only people diving in the biosphere reserve surveying the deserted reefs under a special research permit
- Chance upon mega-fauna such as dolphins, sharks and manatees
- Search the beach at night for turtles laying eggs
- Learn some Spanish
Applicants for this internship need to be qualified to PADI Open Water (or equivalent) and above. The comprehensive training program will provide applicants with all the skills necessary for expedition life, the divemaster course and when working as an intern. You must be able to pass a medical examination to prove you are physically fit to dive. You'll also be asked to pass a swimming test on arrival (an unaided 200m surface swim followed by a 10 min float, and a 300m swim with snorkel, mask and fins followed by a 10 min float, both in the open sea environment). You'll need to be enthusiastic, adventurous, have a good sense of humour and be respectful of the host country’s environment and cultures
Accommodation & Location
When working at a field research base you will stay in basic cabana accommodation, with bunk beds (approximately six people per room) or tents. Conditions are basic and all freshwater comes from a well and is restricted, so interns take bucket showers. During the 12 week work placement and PADI divemaster training, accommodation is of a higher standard, sharing with other participants.
Our partners run a number of research bases on the Yucatan Penisula ranging from remote jungle bases in the heart of the Sian Ka’an (Mayan for ‘Where the Sky is Born’) Biosphere Reserve at Boca Paila to the tranquil Northern coast of the Mayan village of Mahahual, just north of the Belize border. Your internship will see you based at one of the two locations depending upon research requirements. The second part of the internship is spent with a local dive centre on the Mexican Caribbean coast. In between your expedition and work placement there will be a two week break giving you time to explore this beautiful part of the world.
Skills and Qualifications Received?
- PADI Coral Reef Research Diver Distinctive Speciality
- PADI Advanced Open Water
PADI Rescue Diver and PADI Dive Master certifications (excluding PADI professional
- First Aid & CPR training (Emergency First Response Certification)
- DAN O2 delivery course and Biological Survey Techniques Course
- Coral reef ecology, Turtle ecology and monitoring protocol (seasonal)
- Introduction to TEFL and Diving compressor training workshop with practical experience
- Environmental Education
- Interpersonal skills and leadership skills
All volunteers / interns are picked up and dropped off at Playa Del Carmen, provided they arrive within allocated dates / times. From here, you are transported to and from the expedition base via Tulum. You must arrive by the published start date of the expedition, preferably the day before.
A surprisingly large and vibrant country, Mexico seems daunting at first, but here are a few ideas to get you going in the Yucatan Peninsula on your weekends off:
- Dive or snorkel within the unique cenotes – the underwater river systems within the reserve.
- Snorkel with turtles of all sizes in Akumal bay, an area where they are protected and come to feeDive Cozumel!
- The wall dives along the island have been voted as part of the world’s best top 10 diving locations.
When To Apply
The program is open year round, however we recommend applying at least 3 months before your intended departure date to allow enough time to complete the required documents and pay the program fees.
- All food (for the first twelve weeks) and accommodation
- Accommodation for the second twelve weeks
- Airport transfers;
- PADI Advanced Level diving courses, PADI Rescue Diver and PADI Dive Master certifications (excluding PADI professional fees),
- First Aid & CPR training (Emergency First Response Certification)
- DAN O2 delivery course
- Biological Survey Techniques course
- All training materials, technical dive equipment (whilst on the base) and science equipment
- 24-hour in-country support
- 24-hour emergency phone line
What's Not Included?
- International flights
- Travel insurance
- Personal kit (including wetsuit, mask, fins and snorkel), medical,
- PADI Professional Membership Fees and Dues (approx, US$80 per annum),
- Food for twelve weeks when on your work placement.
Program Start Dates & Price
- 6 month $8662 - View dates