Any Sea turtle volunteer would enjoy in such conservation efforts, that started here in this part of Latin America in 2004. It was when the initiator established a volunteer program for the protection of the sea turtles. Such conservation approach was unique and still has a special attention of various organisations around the world. The most notable from them is the WWF (World Wildlife Fund). In 2011, sea turtle conservation activities were handed over to an organisation you would volunteer with. This Caribbean Coast turtle volunteer program comprises an important beach monitoring and a hatchery operation. Furthermore, it offers environmental education and outreach program to raise the awareness about sea turtle conservation. Last but not least also to involve local Costa Rican communities.
Why volunteer for the sea turtles? How would a volunteer ‘help the world’ in protecting sea turtles in Costa Rica?
Sea turtles are over 100 million years old. They travel through the oceans and are not limited by the state borders. Thus, all the nations living around a certain ocean area need to act together in a sustainable manner to protect these marine animals. Why are sea turtles important? They keep the sea in an ecological balance and thus the ecosystem healthy. Not long ago a survival of the sea turtles, where you are possibly going to volunteer for, was at risk due to the poachers. The perfect news is – turtle poachers are now helping in the protection (see below)!
If Sea Turtles In Costa Rica…
If a sea turtles will not be able to survive, this might have negative consequences on humans in the future. It is essential to make a combined action of marine professionals, Sea turtle volunteers and local communities. Costa Rica is very lush, green and mountainous, and has one of the most beautiful nature. This Sea turtle volunteer project will inspire you making a notable contribution to the conservation. At the same time you will experience a special volunteer adventure and a lifelong memory. To see a similar project, check out this Sea Turtle project! Come along to this valuable sea turtle volunteer project.
Caribbean Coast of Costa Rica
1 week to 12 weeks
Airport of Arrival:
San Jose (SJO), Costa Rica
Data collection and protection of the Leatherback Sea Turtles, Green Sea Turtles and Hawksbill Sea Turtles.
18 – 70 for the Sea Turtle Volunteer
# of Volunteers:
30 International volunteers (e.g. USA, Canada, Denmark, UK)
You can pay also in USD. After applying you will receive an email. Then please follow the guidelines about the price conversion.
What is included?
Volunteers will make their own way, via public transport, to and from Bataan, where they will be collected.
Shared room in beach huts, in the research station
All inclusive; vegetarian, vegan also available; typical food of Costa Rica.
Sea turtle volunteer must provide her/his own comprehensive travel health insurance with all relevant coverage.
To be added.
Due to the remote location of the project no excursions are available
24h emergency support and local in-country sea turtle conservation team
Flights, personal expenses, transport to and from the airport, transport to and from Bataan.
Get live chat to have the best volunteer adventure in Costa Rica.
- Minimum age: 18
- Participant must be in good physical condition
- Language: basic English, Spanish
- Interest: enthusiastic, team player, willing to help in turtle conservation;
- No vaccines are needed
- No police Background check is needed
The country is extremely safe, however precautions must be taken with your personal belongings.
Before I came to the Costa Rica Pacific side project I had never seen a sea turtle, been out of the country, or been away from my family for longer than a week. It was the scariest thing I had ever done but it was also the best decision I ever made. I learned more about myself in the three months that I spent in Costa Rica than any other time in my life.
Every day is filled with new adventures and experiences, whether we were working with turtles, in mangroves, or education. Working with the turtles was a remarkable experience that I will never forget. Coming from the desert, I have never been so close to marine life. Working with such a big beautiful animal that you pull right out of the ocean was incredible. I was so happy that I got the chance to be part of a mangrove reforestation project. Work in the mangroves is hard messy work but during your time here you get to see the seeds you planted at the beginning grow into little trees and it is all worth it. The days we got to work with the kids were always so much fun! They were always so excited to meet the “turtle people” and were always enthusiastic to learn.
I met many interesting people during my time in Costa Rica from different backgrounds. Not only people from Costa Rica but also people from all over the world. I became friends with many of the locals and became very close with the research assistants.
I very much enjoyed my time at the Costa Rica Pacific project and definitely plan on returning to Costa Rica!
“Where to start? This is the best experience of my life; the people, the place, the nature of the work, the beautiful leatherback turtles! I added extra days as I didn’t want to leave! Considering the remoteness of the beach the facilities and food was fantastic and I liked that it was rustic. The work was hard in the humidity but rewarding and despite not seeing any hatchlings I was lucky to work with so many giant mummy turtles in the middle of the night and help dig nests to keep their babies safe from poachers. For the money I paid I think it’s definitely worth it and I’m already looking at returning! Thank you to everyone for having me at Costa Rica Caribbean sea turtle project and keep up the great work!”
I decided to volunteer at Costa Rica Caribbean sea turtle project because I was meeting a friend and travelling in Costa Rica for 2 weeks but wanted to spend more time in the country. It sounded like a great project that works towards helping endangered animals but also improved the local community by giving locals job opportunities. Contributing to wildlife conservation and experiencing Costa Rican outside of the popular tourist towns seemed to be a fun way to extend my stay in the country. After arriving at the project I quickly realized that it was an amazing and made a huge impact therefore I decided to return for the remainder of my summer. Deciding to volunteer ended up being the best decision I could have made, I enjoyed my time with the program more then I enjoyed my actual travel vacation that was the original reason for being in Costa Rica.
The location of the Sea turtle volunteer Project is located in the north of the Caribbean province. The beach is part of the 50km coastline stretching between Tortuguero National Park towards South of Costa Rica. The project is very remote, and access is only by the boat through the canals of Tortuguero.
Within the area we can find tropical rainforest, mangroves and rivers, which are home for a lot of exotic animals like monkeys, sloths, crocodiles and a numerous variety of birds and insects.
All has to work together! This Sea turtle volunteer – Conservation in Costa Rica works together with the local community. Former poachers are now trained for the sea turtle conservation and work together with volunteers to protect these critically endangered marine animals. This important marine project executes night and day beach patrols and operates a hatchery. Not only the work but solely taking part of each Sea Turtle Volunteer plays an important role in enabling a conservation as the incoming fees represent the income for the local inhabitants. The volunteer organisation strives to increase the alternative livelihoods for coastal communities versus poaching and hunting turtles and to achieve a sustainable sea turtle management.
Main threats to the Sea Turtles in Costa Rica
The main threats for the sea turtles in this part of Costa Rica are: egg poaching and hunting nesting turtles. This certainly causes a population decline. Especially in the Caribbean, the consumption of sea turtle meat and eggs or the utilisation of turtle shell for jewellery production is rooted in long-lived local traditions. There remains a strong belief that sea turtle eggs serve as aphrodisiac.
On the other hand – sea turtles face the negative effects of global warming, contamination, habitat loss due to the beach erosion, entanglement in fishing gear and trash. Through the involvement of local inhabitants of this isolated and small community, the sea turtle project provides a unique opportunity for volunteers to experience a community-based Costa Rican conservation. It also offers a legal and sustainable revenue for community members. The data taken from nesting females improves our understanding of their behavior and helps coordinating conservation efforts worldwide.
IUCN Red List of Threatened Species
Most of the nesting activities are of the Leatherback Sea Turtle. Nevertheless, also Green Sea Turtles and Hawksbill Sea Turtles are coming to the beach and lay their eggs. All sea turtles species are listed on the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. A Green Sea Turtle at this location is ranked as “Vulnerable” and the Leatherback and Hawksbill Sea Turtle as “Critically Endangered”. Therefore your sea turtle volunteer conservation position will not only help to sea turtles but also to a local community! Have a look also on this similar project. Exciting, isn’t it?
Before travelling to the project each Sea turtle volunteer will receive orientation in the offices in San Jose. During the orientation, the team leads will explain the volunteer work roles, explain why volunteers are so desired and give helpful tips to ensure a safe and enjoyable volunteer experience.
Night shifts! Together with others, Sea turtle volunteer will help to researchers and patrol the beach from 8:00 pm to 4:00 am. The timetable will be organised in different shifts and sectors of the beach, between March and October. It will take at least 4 hours to patrol the beach effectively. If a nesting turtle is found, the eggs will be collected and relocated into a hatchery. The turtle work will be done following an official protocol. The later involves tagging, taking biometry and other important data of the turtle. Former poachers, now trained in conservation techniques, and the trained Sea Turtle Volunteers carry out the important work. Together they are responsible for guarding the nests at the hatchery and releasing the baby turtles.
Not only the Sea Turtles…
Not only for the sea turtles – volunteers are involved also in the daily tasks, like cleaning, gardening, kitchen work, painting, maintaining, beach cleaning etc., depending on the season and the needs. Woho – lot of exciting things that we sometimes even neglect to do at home!
A typical day
Typical Day: You will volunteer about 6 – 8 hours per day, 6 days out of 7.
After breakfast, each volunteer will receive a briefing from the previous night’s activities. After that, you will participate in the volunteer activities around the station. This could be maintenance, hatchery construction, cleaning, painting or beach cleaning. It all depends on the needs. After lunch, you will have time to relax.
In the afternoon we will continue with our volunteer activities.
Dinner will be served in the evening and you will prepare for your night shift. Patrols take place from 7 pm though until 4 am – so you will be put on a 4 hour shift during this time.
Hatchery monitoring takes place 24 hours per day – so if you do not go on a patrol you will be put on a hatchery shift.
A similar project…
A similar project in Costa Rica is here >>
There are cosy 6 shared beach cabins where volunteers will sleep. Each cabin is equipped with bunk beds and can sleep 6 – 8 people. The shared bathroom and shower block is separate. The property is very open and just meters from the beach.
There is a kitchen, office for staff and a common area for the sea turtle volunteers, with hammocks and reading material.
Three meals a day are included (meals are mostly vegetarian). Meals will be prepared and served for volunteers, unless there are very few volunteers, in which case everyone will prepare and serve meals together.
Our Sea Turtle Volunteers must wash their own dishes.
Meals are mostly vegetarian and typical dishes include Costa Rican food, rice, black beans, plantains, salads, vegetables, pasta and soups. There are no amenities around, so volunteers must take their own snacks.
Tea and coffee are available all day.
Alcoholic drinks are not permitted whilst participating in the project.
There is no WiFi or internet connection at the project
Volunteers can hand wash clothes. A detergent is available.
This is a beautiful area on the Caribbean coast of Costa Rica and has a lot of wildlife. It is common to see sloths, white faced and howler monkeys and many species of birds. Our work takes place at night on the beach – even when it rains, we must patrol the beach.
We are studying three different species of sea turtles, of which two are critically endangered – which is our biggest highlight!
In your free time, with no volunteering for the project, you are free to organize your own activities, such as morning exercises on the beach or taking a walk through the small community.
Swimming in the ocean is not recommended due to strong tides and rip currents.
Apply now and secure yourself a place in this amazing volunteer project.