Spanish Virgin Islands Research Expedition

UWL Molecular Island Ecology

8 Days in January, 2020 (We will put exact dates here)

 Research in the Spanish Virgin Islands

This research expedition will focus on developing the first mobile App of a sailing guide to the Spanish Virgin Islands archipelago. The purpose of this App is to help provide travelers/sailors with insight into the world they will be traveling through. It will provide the types of marine life and wildlife they may observe, provide a history of the islands (their creation and local culture) and provide GIS navigational maps for the 23 islands and cays. 

The types of information we are looking for help researching:

1.  The Environment: habitats, ecosystems, wildlife, common plants and their uses, marine life, reef quality and locations, location of bioluminescent bays, the geography and geology, climate, nature preserves, and the management of these resources. 

2. Culture: cultural history, colonialism, U.S. military presence, bio-ethnographic research, tourism and the economy.

3. Sailing Notes: common and safe anchorage maps, bathymetry data (depths), georeferenced aerial photos, sailors notes- describing the characteristics and resources of each bay, fresh water, clinics, restaurants, grocery stores, and other helpful information.

4. Imagery: High definition video and photographs will be collected and included in the App to provide examples of what one can expect to encounter at each bay/island. This will include underwater photos and video of the reefs and aerial photos and videos from a drone. 

5. GIS Mapping: Use GPS receivers, GIS software, drones, an sonar to may the bathymetry of the anchorages, bays, reefs, and islands. 

Two ways to participate

There are two options to participate in this research expedition. You may choose to join us and help with the field surveys and the gathering of information for the 8 days or, you have the option to participate in an internship with us which includes working remotely pre and post expedition. The internship requires working remotely, at home or your university (5-15 hours per week), and spending 8 days in early January, 2018 participating in the research expedition.

What this research expedition offers you:

1. You become a contributor to a Global Treks mobile App.

2. Gain experience designing, researching, collecting, and synthesizing data.

3. Experience collecting field data while living aboard a sailboat in the Caribbean.

4. Learn to sail a 44 foot catamaran sailboat. 

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     What you can expect

We work with each individual to set up an individualized topic of research. You will spend 5-15 hours per week for three months working remotely on your specific research. You will then spend 8 days in early January living aboard a sailboat while sailing around the islands of Culebra, Vieques, and the surround cays. The sailboat is 48 feet long and consists of 4 cabins, a kitchen, dining area, and two bathrooms. Each cabin will be shared by two individuals. Mornings will be spent sailing between the islands and in the afternoons we will anchor in a protected bay and get out to explore the island and conduct surveys. It is during this time on the islands that you will investigate your research topic and document what you discover through surveys, observations, note taking, and photographs to include in the app. 

Trip Highlights

While conducting research you may also have the chance to swim among bioluminescence at night as well as snorkel off the sailboat and dive with stingrays, sea turtles, reef fish, and vibrant soft and hard corals. You will also have the opportunity to explore uninhabited islands and observe wild horses on the beaches, hike through nature preserves and bird sanctuaries, and collect coconuts to eat and drink. 


Position Details

-We are looking for individual with all background and majors. Focus areas include creative writing, investigative journalism, wildlife, plants, marine life, natural history, tourism, anthropology, economics, GIS, as well as students interested in the making of a documentary of the expedition. 

- Mobile Research from any location (3 months/5-15 hours per week)

- Action Research in the Spanish Virgin Islands (1 week-early January).

-Interested in earning college credit? We will work with your university to ensure that you receive 3-6 credits for your contribution to the research. 


1. Develop and publish the first sailing guide mobile app to the Spanish Virgin Islands. 

2. GPS boat anchorages, hiking trails, navigational lights, points of interest, and survey water bathymetry, collect aerial video and imagery from a drone.

3. Conduct research on the areas natural and cultural history. 

5. Explore all of the islands and bays in order to document what sailors can expect to find and develop geospatial maps to aid in navigation.

4. Collect video and photographs to include in the making of a documentary of the expedition. 


Travel Costs: $2,400

The travel costs you may will cover lodging, food, local transportation,sailboat charter, a licensed U.S.C.G. Captain, supplies, and mooring costs.  

*Airfare transportation to St. Thomas U.S. Virgin Islands not included. We are more than happy to help you book your flight. Flights typically start at $315 depending on your location. We will meet you at the St. Thomas airport with our company shirts on and a sign with your name.

*Interested in an intern position but not traveling? Please fill out an application to be considered for a position helping in with documentary making, marketing, and the publication process. 

Ready to Apply?

Still have questions? Please email us or visit our FAQ for additional information. 

What past interns have to say about their experience:

Jefferson G. | University of North Texas

     "I see global treks being an unforgettable learning experience first and foremost. I would love to work for Global Treks again on any other projects. Global Treks taught me how to apply the knowledge I’ve been accumulating for the last 4 years which was an invaluable lesson to learn for my career. Personally that allows me to have the confidence to take risks and put myself out there for future career options."

Bryan K. | Texan State University

  "This trip was much more than I expected. I know that this is what I am going to do the rest of my life. I have learned more in this one week than I have in one year of college."


Kendra H. | Century College

 "During my experience I was able to work with an amazing team that supported and encouraged me. I had an adventure of a lifetime. I was able to utilize and develop my skills that I hope to use in my future careers."