To volunteer for the sea turtle conservation in Costa Rica is an absolutely great experience.
The organization you would volunteer with has discovered an important foraging area for the sea turtles here, on the Pacific coast of Costa Rica. In 2012 this resulted in a creation of the important rescue center. Namely, they noted many turtles in need of medical assistance or rehabilitation. This volunteer opportunity runs all year round as the foraging Hawksbill and Pacific Green sea turtles are present in the area during all seasons.
Why volunteer for oceans and sea turtles?
How does a volunteer ‘help the world’ in helping the sea turtles in Costa Rica and rescue them?
We can learn a lot about the planet’s conditions when observing the sea turtles. They travel through the oceans and are, evolutionary, over 100 million years old! Sea turtles eat the sea grass and help it to grow. This way turtles maintain the health of the sea grass beds which provide breeding and development for numerous fish, crustaceans and other sea animals. If sea grass beds are lost we could lose important species that even human harvest. In the recent past the survival of sea turtles is at risk due to unsustainable pressures of human activities. For some of them you will learn through the project and will help in mitigating them. If sea turtles cannot survive, the human species might have soon difficulties too. Therefore we need to preserve them and educate other people about it. Costa Rica, with the most beautiful nature might thus be one of the most interesting, valuable and exciting actions you can expect as a volunteer. Join us in this exciting sea turtle volunteer project.
Close to Puerto Jiménez, Costa Rica
1 week to 12 weeks
Airport of Arrival:
San Jose (SJO), Costa Rica
Protection and data collection of sea turtles in their natural habitats
18 – 70
# of volunteers:
30 International volunteers (mostly from 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 Playa Blanca near Puerto Jiménez where they will be collected.
Accommodation is organized in the local homestays or guesthouses.
All inclusive; vegetarian, vegan also available; typical food of Costa Rica.
Volunteers must provide their own comprehensive travel health insurance with volunteer abroad coverage.
To be added.
Local excursions include horse riding, kayaking, a chocolate tour and zip lining. There is a National park quite near for a great wildlife spotting and hiking.
Local in-country team and 24h emergency support
Flights, personal expenses, transport to and from the airport, transport to and from Playa Blanca.
Click here to get a free volunteer advice!
- Minimum age: 18
- Participant must be in good physical condition and be able to swim
- 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
I have had the incredible pleasure of being an intern for Great Barrier Reef: Snorkeling & Conservation during the summer period of 2017-2018. My initial intent was to find a site or a company that would form the basis of a three-month fieldwork period that would inspire the trajectory and the larger source of data input of my Master’s thesis in Social Anthropology.
Unsure of how the Great Barrier Reef: Snorkeling & Conservation team would see the potential in my proposed research project based in the social sciences, I was taken aback by the extremely warm welcome I received and in the infectious positive attitude of the volunteer project leaders. I was guided by another stuff person through the relevant aspects of the Marine Volunteer program and am entirely grateful for her patience with me through the entire experience. Her pedagogical supervision and fortitude will not soon be forgotten and have shown me example qualities that make an excellent educator.
No day was like any other at this project. The extensive efforts, passion humour and incredible knowledge base shared among the staff at Great Barrier Reef: Snorkeling & Conservation seemingly boundless. Their nightly information sessions are unforgettable and rank as some of the most enjoyable lectures/information sessions I’ve ever attended. I am now entirely inundated with fantastic data for my research, more than I could have foreseen and am entirely grateful for having been given the chance to work with such incredible individuals. I was entirely envious of the new intern who had just commenced their internship as I was about to return to my university city, as working with the project team has been a highlight in both my professional/academic career as well as in my own personal development.
Madagascar Forest Volunteer: A Unique Vacation
“Being part of the forest conservation project on Nosy Komba has allowed me to experience and appreciate some of Madagascar’s tremendous biodiversity. It is incredible – despite its relatively small size, the country holds 5% of the world’s species. What amazes me the most though, is the way Evolution has carved life forms in bizarre and marvellous shapes and colours – unlike anywhere else on Earth – designing them to perfectly blend in with their surroundings.
However, being here for as long as I have, it was inevitable that I would witness one of the country’s major problems – environmental degradation. As one of the world’s poorest countries, its people’s survival depends upon natural resource use. They are forced to live off the land, destroying primary forest for plantations, cutting down trees to make pirogues, which is justified through a need to fish. Native species are being aggressively hunted and collected by people, desperately seeking to provide for their families.
We can’t really blame the Malagasy for what they do, what we can do instead, is go to Madagascar, either as volunteers or tourists, not to see it before it is too late, but to invest in its preservation, even by simply enjoying a one of a kind vacation.
There is no doubt that once in Madagascar, anyone is bound to fall in love with it. I definitely did, and not only because of its ‘million shades of green’, but the Malagasy too – their beauty, their hospitality, and most of all, their ability to enjoy life despite all.
I come from a place with traffic, people, big buildings, and smog. The strangest part about being in a place so foreign as this is that, quickly, it all becomes old hat, old habit, routine. Of course we take cold showers and wear flip flops and watch the sun set every day over the ocean. That is our life here, and as I have lived it, it has become just as much mine as the traffic and people and smog.
Many folk like to call this place paradise, and it is but not because of its beaches, the jungle, and the sea. Nosy Komba is paradise because I came here a stranger, a vazaha, a foreigner, but I have, nevertheless, been received by here people here on camp and in Lemur Island’s many villages with an ‘mbola tsara’, maybe a bowl of rice, and a friendly smile to let me know that though this place is not home these people are still family.
I have gotten a lot from the people of Madagascar (free food, a necklace, a place to rest my weary head) and the more abstract things too like happiness, companionship, and goodwill. The people here have given and I have received. My only regret is that I may never be able to repay them for it all.
When I decided that I wanted to volunteer on a faraway island, I never thought that it would have such a big impact in my life. Madagascar will always be close to my heart because it taught me so much about myself, about other cultures and, most importantly, it taught me how little I really need to be happy.
I was on Nosy Komba for two months in the Marine Conservation program and I can say that it was the best decision of my life. My day consisted of diving, learning about the ocean, and being around people I love and will never forget. I will always regret not staying longer because saying goodbye to this little piece of paradise and to all the people I met was the hardest thing I’ve ever had to do.
To anyone who is looking for a volunteering experience, I extremely recommend this organization for marine program – you will have the time of your life, and stay as long as you can, because time flies in paradise.
The most important things that I have learned from the South African Shark volunteer program are for sure shark work experience and data analysing. I enjoyed the most being on the water and doing fieldwork, as well as I was amazed by the cage diving. I felt greatly integrated in the volunteer environment, where it was always a positive and encouraging attitude. It was great to get the constructive feedback and staff member were always available. I found this programme also intellectually stimulating and I learned practical knowledge during my placement. There were many outcomes emanating from this programme which will be useful for my skill development. I would strongly recommend this volunteer programme to another volunteer or a student. It all made a big difference to me and I certainly had wished that I could stay there for a longer time.
Working with sharks everyday is feeling like I was actually contributing not just doing busy work! I enjoyed about various species and about conservation efforts. Of course working out in the field was also amazing but I also enjoyed the quiet days getting things sorted around the lab.
I think I was trained very well while I was at your program although I need to improve my listening skills!
This program will certainly make a difference to my future studies. I had the most amazing time and I am very sad that it has come to an end so soon! I wish that I could stay for longer! Thank you so much for everything, everyone has been so kind and incredible to work with. I have learned so much since I have been here that no doubt will help me along my way through marine bio! I am so thankful to my new Shark research family for teaching me so much and making me feel at home! I am going to miss everything about the South African Shark program! I would rate this program overall definitely as excellent!
A dolphin research organization where I took part was like a blast for me! You can be a volunteer and have an amazing experience with other volunteers from all around the world and with a lot of fun. The work for dolphins comprises of team work everyday: every volunteer gets a task they have to do daily. Before we first went with the boat to the sea, we had two presentations about dolphins and on dolphin conservation. When we first saw the Dolphins on the sea everyone was excited about it. It was such an amazing moment when the first dolphin jumped out of the water. We also saw a dolphin with her calf. That was a really amazing and emotional moment. There are about 150 dolphins, and each dolphin has its name. When we helped in the analysis we compared the dorsal fins to know which dolphins we have seen. When we were at sea there were a lot of dolphin watching boats that drive very near to the animals whereas the research boat always stays a distance away to prevent the disturbance. And when they drive so near to the dolphins they don’t jump anymore and we can’t see them again because they are scared. It’s really important to solve the problem so the Dolphins can live in peace. It makes a lot of fun to work in a group of international volunteers and to learn biology of Dolphins, other languages and volunteering for the nature and the Dolphins.
I have come to do the volonteering for dolphin conservation because I have been fascinated by the dolphins since my childhood. While volunteering we have learned so much about these wonderful creatures – and to see them LIVE in the nature was an absolute highlight!
Last but not least, especially our team was so unique because it team was the oldest ever J and we had one younger volunteer that we at once ‘adopted’ and called her »our baby«. So we have harmonized very well. We have worked together, cooked, cleaned, harvested even olives and did also the tours. Almost like in a family! We laughed until our bellies hurt! Everything fitted just perfectly! And then, of course, there is a team leader, who, by her cordial, open manner and her presence is a real personality! It is absolutely a joy, that you can, through the love to the dolphins meet even so dear people!
I have always been into the sea and dolphins so I was really excited when I found out this project for dolphin conservation. I thought to volunteer for such a purpose would be a good thing. When I had to choose what to do for my matura, final work exam at school, I asked if I could do it about dolphins and from what they are endangered and the project leaders agreed with it.
By volunteering for dolphins I learned more about the research work. But not only this, I also had a good time during doing my work with the other volunteers.We went swimming in the sea, sunbathing at the beach or just drinking a beer and get to know each other better.
But what’s the best of all: you see dolphins in the wild. It’s so great to see them swimming in the wide ocean free and their movements. I can’t believe people are catching them and put them into an aquarium.
I would recommend this poject to everybody who wants to have a closer look at the researcher life and wants to do something good for the sea and its amazing inhabitants.
After a short search on volunteer opportunities I became quickly aware of the project for the bottlenose dolphins, which was, in my opinion, a total jackpot. From the first day on I got the feeling I was into something important. From the little tasks like washing the dishes to gardening I was always feeling the spirit. We did good work on research comparing dolphin fins on the pictures we took. In our free time we enjoyed the underwater world of the Adriatic Sea, snorkeling for hours! Of course, the most beautiful time I spent here was when we went out on our boat trip to get new pictures and data of our lovely dolphins.
I will always remember the first time when I saw a fin breaking through the surface of the sea and the joy I felt having a look into the eyes of an animal that is so intelligent and free!
Location of the sea turtle project:
The project is located close to in the southern Pacific province of Puntarenas, Costa Rica. The surrounding landscape is a lot of flat farmland. However, most of the area is under some kind of protection. The Golfo Dulce, is one of the four tropical fiords worldwide, that hosts additionally a fascinating marine life – including sea turtles. As a volunteer at the sea turtle rescue project you will be surrounded by a natural paradise!
The sea turtle project in Costa Rica:
This sea turtle volunteer project was founded in 2010, after the successful WIDECAST project with the same in-water monitoring method in 2007 in the South Caribbean of Costa Rica. The dynamics of the local sea turtle populations is poorly understood, and while some information on females has been gathered from nesting beaches, little is known about the population structure, genetic origin and in-water habitat use.
Sea turtles spend only 1% of their lives on the nesting beaches and due to this behavioral pattern, mainly only adult females are studied. Very little information is available about juvenile populations and sex ratios of adult populations. Therefore, more in-water work is needed to increase knowledge about habitats used by sea turtles in different life stages in order to assess the types of threats they are exposed to.
The volunteer and conservation organization on this peninsula of Costa Rica is working here mainly with the Hawksbill sea turtle (Eretmochelys imbricata) and the Pacific Green sea turtle (Chelonia mydas), also known as the Black sea turtle. Both species are listed on the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. The Pacific Green sea turtle is ranked as “endangered” and the Hawksbill sea turtle as “critically endangered”. Therefore sea turtle volunteer project is of great importance to help in activities towards implementing the measures for their conservation.
Each volunteer will receive orientation information in the office of the organization in San Jose before travelling to the project. During the briefing, they will explain your work roles, explain why they need sea turtle volunteers and give helpful tips to ensure a safe and enjoyable experience.
The project recruits national and international volunteers to support our field work as part of the research and conservation project. It is essential that the monitoring and tagging efforts continue in order to gain a better understanding of different size classes, their roles in coral reefs, different habitat uses, and health status. Volunteers support our scientists and research assistants in the field work. This will include different tasks in our three different working areas.
Foraging sea turtles are mainly found in shallow waters (<50m) with hard-bottom substrates or sea grass beds in coastal areas, in some cases around coral reefs. By sampling it is possible to gain information on the demographic structure of the sea turtle population, such as abundance of immature sea turtles, male and non-breeding females, and their behavior. Throughout this volunteer project you will also go to the survey area by boat, and will as well have to get in the water with snorkels to check the nets.
Rescue and Rehabilitation Center:
If we catch a weak sea turtle or receive one from another beach, we will take it to our field rescue center at the project site. Patients are usually very stressed, so it is incredibly important to try and keep the area quite so that the patient/turtle is as comfortable as possible. Part of this is keeping the sea turtle’s water clean and the temperature at a reasonable level. Keep in mind, having no patients in the rescue center is a good sign. Conditions in captivity are only done if considered to be necessary and follow international and national criteria.
Mangrove Reforestation Program:
Mangroves play a very important role in the coastal ecosystems. They benefitting to the fishes, birds, invertebrates, humans and also the sea turtles. Since the majority of the mangrove forests along the coast of Playa Blanca have been destroyed, a reforestation program was put into place to help restore some of the populations.
You will volunteer about 6 – 8 hours per day, 6 days out of 7. Volunteers must make their own way to the meeting point from their chosen accommodation.
Depending on the day’s activity, you will generally start work at 7.30am after breakfast. If you are participating in an in-water day, you will take a packed lunch to eat on the beach. You must help carry all materials down to the boat.
The nets must stay in the water for a certain amount of time – so this may involve a lot of waiting with possibly no turtles being caught.
If you are participating in a mangrove day, you must carry all materials to the reforestation site or nursery.
You will generally finish work at 3pm, when volunteers must help clean the equipment and store it ready for the next day.
You will stay in one of 4 accommodation categories:
These accommodations are located further inland, you will be provided with a bicycle for traveling to and from the project site (4km or a 30 minute bike ride). The rooms are basic, and are located in a very calm area surrounded by green and lush nature. This accommodation’s rooms are individual and with a shared bathroom.
These cabins and rooms have a capacity of 1 – 5 people in each, some with private and some with shared bathrooms. They are located less than 1 km from the beach and are within walking distance of the main project site.
These rooms have the capacity of 1 – 4 people with a private bathroom. They are located directly next to the bus stop and a 5 minute bike ride – bicycle provided!
These cabins accomodate 1 – 4 people. All have a private bathroom. They also have amenities like TV with SKY-TV and air conditioning (additional fees apply for A/C). The site is located in 4km away or a 20minute bike ride – bicycle provided!
Three meals a day are included. Meals will be prepared and served for volunteers, and we can cater for every dietary requirement. The volunteer organization can deal with all dietary requirements. You may wish to bring supplements with you as it is difficult to find protein alternatives in Costa Rica.
Meals are mostly typical dishes of Costa Rican food, rice, black beans, plantains, salads, vegetables, pasta and soups. There is a small “pulperia” or convenience store where volunteers can buy snacks.
Tea and coffee are also available.
Alcoholic drinks are not permitted whilst participating in the project.
there is limited WiFi in just the hawksbill category of accommodation.
Volunteers can hand wash clothes, or pay the accommodation provider to do laundry, about $5 per bag.
The highlight of this sea turtle volunteer experience is the hands on, educational aspect. Volunteers will work alongside a professional biologist, and 3-4 research assistants, on a new research on sea turtles.
The area is of outstanding natural beauty, and there are many activities that volunteers can do on their days off – such as a hike in a nearby Corcovado National Park, a boat trip across the gulf to Golfito, or even a trip to the second capital city of Panama – David.
Apply now and secure yourself a place in this amazing volunteer project.