Come to the jungle and help out at this vital conservation initiative protecting sea turtles.
This remote location is an important nesting beach for both Leatherback and Green Sea Turtles, and on occasion the rare Hawksbill Turtle too. As critically endangered species, without action their outlook is not great.
Over generations the poaching of eggs and the hunting of nesting turtles have combined to put turtle populations under severe pressure. The effects of global warming, beach erosion and water pollution have further added to the problem.
The project involves local villagers in its conservation efforts and offers a sustainable source of revenue for community members. Your presence here, and your fees, helps provide this income through the employment of local people. For example, former poachers have been trained in turtle conservation and now work together with volunteers to protect the wildlife.
As an important member of the project, you will be involved in a combination of duties broadly categorised as Patrol, Hatchery and General Maintenance. Please note that turtle nesting is seasonal, here taking place from March through October. During this period, much of your work is at night.
Days 1 and 2 (Sun/Mon or Wed/Thurs)
Arrive at San Jose’s Juan Santamaria International Airport (airport code SJO) and say a big Hola to Costa Rica. After clearing customs and immigration, you’ll be picked up and taken to the project headquarters where you’ll spend your first night. No matter the time of arrival we’ll be there for you, so no worries regarding your flight time.
Early next morning, you will meet our coordinator who will welcome you and run through an orientation/briefing. Then we’re off - by taxi, public bus, 4WD and finally a boat until we reach your new home in the rainforest alongside a remote Caribbean beach. Relax, meet the on-site team and settle in to the project station.
Volunteers assist the project staff with data collection, the protection of eggs and nesting turtles on Patrol, work shifts in the Hatchery and undertake important beach clean-ups. At certain periods it is all-hands-to-the-pump, and there may well be times when you will be asked to work both during the day and night. At other times, there is not the same frenzy of activity and you’ll have plenty of time to relax. Such is life at a real-life conservation project where the rules of nature determine your day-to-day tasks.
In a group, you’ll be responsible for patrolling a 2.5km section of the beach by night, this means long walks in search of nesting females. Once a turtle is encountered the action starts – you’ll measure the female and her nest and you’ll collect the eggs to be moved to the hatchery. Important data such as the turtle ID tag no., nest location and no. of eggs is recorded before the task is complete. Expect to cover around 14kms each patrol.
The hatchery is a secure, protected section of the beach where eggs stand a much higher chance of making it to their exciting conclusion. In-depth training is provided of course before you get to work. The main volunteer tasks in the hatchery are the relocation and ongoing monitoring of nests, maintaining security from predators, collection of data and hatchling release.
Eggs incubate for around 60 days, and there is a surge of hatchlings midway through the season. Work in the hatchery gets very busy now, as all nests must be checked regularly day and night. Hatchlings are released to the ocean the same day they are born, and it is your responsibility to keep an eye on them until they safely reach the water.
The hatchery has to be rebuilt every year and this means plenty of digging, fence-building and general preparation of the area. Bring muscles and stamina !
Your last day (Monday/Thursday) – goodbye, we’ll miss you!
Oh no …… whether you’re here for 1 week or 10 weeks one of these days it will be time to say goodbye to paradise. Your journey back to reality starts with an early boat through the jungle waterways, back to town to catch the bus to the capital San Jose, arriving late morning.
If you are flying straight out, then you a departure after 3pm should be OK – even better, spend an extra night or two in the city before continuing to explore this incredible country – we’ll be glad to help with your overnight accommodation and/or your onward travel.
Your home is a remote and rustic project station accessible only by water. Think location, location, location !!
With the black sand beach at the front and inland waterways behind, your neighbours are the birds of the rainforest.
Breakfast, lunch and dinner are included in your program cost. Meals are a social scene, with volunteers and project staff eating together.
We will do our best to work with dietary requirements, but please check this prior to booking.
About the Project
This project is part of a regional initiative throughout Central America and the Caribbean which for over 30 years has brought biologists and community leaders together to ensure the recovery of sea turtle populations.
For 11 years, volunteers have played an integral role in the evolution and success of this specific project location in a remote area of the Caribbean coast between Tortuguero and Puerto Limon.
In addition to ongoing beach patrols, a hatchery to ensure high production and survival rates for the next generation, the project works hard to include and to educate local communities in sea turtle conservation efforts.