WHAT DOES THE PROJECT DO?
Four different species of sea turtles can be found on the Pacific coast of Costa Rica, the Olive Ridley, Green, Hawksbill and Leatherback. The aim of this project is to help protect and preserve some of the few natural nesting sites of these turtles that do not hold an official category of protection from the Costa Rican government.
In danger of extinction as a result of human activities such as infrastructure development, light pollution, transportation of vehicles and the capture of adults, the future of sea turtles is becoming increasingly dependent on the protection and conservation of important nesting sites. Volunteering on this amazing programme could be your opportunity to play a part in securing the future of these fascinating and enigmatic creatures.
WHAT WILL I BE DOING?
As a volunteer you could be involved in a range of activities such as observing and monitoring the nesting dynamics of female sea turtles and constructing hatcheries where at risk nests can be relocated. You will also be required to patrol the beach during the day or night which, depending on the season, can last anywhere from two to five hours.
Other activities could include marking adult turtles, releasing hatchlings (depending upon season), maintenance of the centre’s facilities and shelters, beach clean-ups and tree planting projects as well as a range of scientific data collection and monitoring exercises. You will be assigned to one of four possible project locations so if you are travelling with a friend don’t forget to let us know so that we can ensure you will be based at the same location.
For your final week of your project you will transfer to the popular town of Tamarindo, famous among surfers for its vibrant night life, to join an intensive surf course including five one-and-a-half hour lessons between Monday and Friday (one lesson each day), and plenty of time to practice. You will have use of the surfboard for the duration of this week.
Turtle conservation project locations available include:
Northern Section of the Caribbean Coast
This project runs from mid-February to July for Leatherback sea turtles (high season in May), and from June to November for Green sea turtles (high season in September).
The project is located on an isolated Caribbean beach, covering 7 km of coastline in front of tropical rainforest and several coastal lagoons surrounded by palm swamp forests. The beach is part of the 50 km stretch between the Tortuguero National Park (famous for its sea turtles) on Costa Rica’s northern Caribbean coast and the harbour of Limon. It is surrounded by an intricate system of fresh water channels. The area is famous for being the nesting site for many Leatherback, Hawksbill and Green Sea Turtles who come to lay their eggs here. The local community, known as the Nuevo Pacuare, participate as local conservation assistants taking volunteers to help them address some of the threats to the sea turtles like marine debris, erosion and also poaching.
You will be staying in shared, dormitory style accommodation in volunteer cabins that can sleep up to eight people. There is no electricity but there is a solar panel that provides lighting in the common area. Access to the project is by boat. Facilities are available in the nearby town.
Santa Rosa National Park
Project runs between July and March, high season September to October for Black and Olive Ridley turtles.
This project is located to the South of the Santa Rosa National Park in the Guanacaste Conservation Area of the north Pacific region. It has an extension of 1.4 km and is surrounded by mangroves that provide a vital habitat for an array of bird species, and other animals. This location has been identified as a nesting site for both the Loggerhead and Olive Ridley sea turtle, which ultimately led to the establishment of the conservation project in this area to help protect these incredible species. Despite being a relatively small beach that is quite isolated, this site still experiences problems with poachers and erosion, underlining the need for the conservation work of our volunteers.
You will be staying in shared dormitory style accommodation. There is no electricity but there is a small solar panel that provides lighting for the common area and also the opportunity to charge batteries for your camera.
Camaronal National Park
This project runs all year round. High season May to November, low season December to April. Turtle species frequenting this location include Leatherback, Olive Ridley, Hawksbill and Black turtles.
The project is located in the Camaronal National Park, in the Guanacaste region. Of the seven species of sea turtle that can be found throughout the world, four of them can be found at this site, including the Olive Ridley, the Leatherback, the Hawksbill and the Black sea turtle. Each of these species is endangered, so the Camaronal National Park is one of very few places around the world where travellers can view these impressive creatures. Access to the refuge is limited and at night there is the possibility of participating on a guided patrols of the area.
Here you will be living in shared dormitory style accommodation (volunteer house) with electricity and drinking water.
Playa Hermosa National Park
This project runs from mid-August to December, high season is September for the Olive Ridley.
The Project is located in the Playa Hermosa National Park. There are four permanent park ranger staff that collaborate on the sea turtle protection project which is located 106 km from San Jose on the Pacific coast, close to the Carara Biological Reserve. Because it is a national park (wildlife refuge), access to the public is limited meaning only rangers and volunteers are permitted onto the beach at night for patrolling.
You will be staying in shared dormitory style accommodation with your fellow volunteers (4 to 6 people per room). There is electricity.