Turtle Conservation Intern

Volunteer in Turtle Conservation in Costa RicaAre you interested in wildlife conservation? Would you like to live and work on a beautiful Costa Rican beach? Then become a volunteer “intern” on an amazing Turtle Conservation project! The sea turtle conservation project’s beach is one of the world’s major sea turtle nesting places! The beach is located on the Nicoya Peninsula in Costa Rica. Four sea turtle species arrive at the beach everyday of the year (!):  Leather Back (Dermochelys coriacea), Green turtle (Chelonia mydas), Hawksbill (Eretmochelys imbricata) and Olive-Ridley (Lepidochelys olivacea). The community run organization you’ll be working with has years of experience with volunteers – and they are in urgent need for more help! They receive thousands of sea turtles each year – but they have too few volunteers to help cope with the amount of eggs and turtles. There is a very rare phenomenon that happens at the sea turtle site – it is called “arribada” or “big arrival” and occurs once every Volunteer in Turtle Conservation in Costa Ricamonth. The Arribada is a synchronized mass nesting when hundreds to thousands of Olive-Ridley Sea Turtles arrive at the beach on the same day and night. During arribada there are so many turtles at the beach that they struggle to find their nesting place, and new turtles may dig up nests from other turtles. The “arribada” depends on certain cycles of the moon, and it is more predictable in the rainy season (June to January). Sea turtles generally arrive at the 7km stretch of beach at night, but during huge “arribadas” in the wet season, turtles may arrive from 2pm until 7 in the morning the next day. Sometimes up to 1.000.000 turtles arrive at the beach in a period of 6 to 9 days! The resident biologist has been working at the site for more than a decade, and as a volunteer on this project you’ll work closely with him. You’ll learn everything about sea turtle conservation and methods to preserve them – and at the same time live on a beautiful remote beach in Costa Rica. During times you’re not helping with the turtles,  you’ll have time to surf (the beach is a prime surf spot) and hang out with the local community! One of the main goals of the project is to involve the volunteer/ intern as much as possible in community activities and daily “tico” life. The community is small (about 1000 people) and you’ll get to know everyone quickly. You’ll be involved in community activities and events – and so you’ll get a great cultural experience! You can also contact us about research opportunities – if you’re a student and you’re interested in sea turtle conservation, we can help to set you up with a research project. Contact us and ask us about more details. This project is a great opportunity to gather research and biology experience – and you may even get credit for your biology degree, since you’ll be working with a certified biologist. Contact us or Apply for this project now!

Volunteer in Turtle Conservation in Costa Rica

Volunteers with red lights at night, looking at a sea turtle laying eggs

Volunteer’s Responsibilities Include:

  • Patrol beach daily
  • Move nests to hatchery and prepare the nests
  • Mark turtles that are nesting and that are trying to build a nest or are returning to the ocean
  • Search for marked turtles and gather data regarding the percentage of turtles that return to the beach during “arribada”
  • Count all turtles that arrive at the beach
  • Help the most amount of baby turtles to get safely into the ocean
  • Help build a watering system to help the hatchlings develop during the dry months
  • Help patrol the beach to protect nests from illegal extraction and predators
  • Taking the sand’s temperature in specific sections of the beach in the morning, at noon and at sunset
  • Gather information regarding egg development (or lack of) in all the nests and the and check for the presence of organisms inside them
  • Help extract and pack the eggs that are sold legally (only 1% of all the eggs laid are allowed to be sold).
  • Translate documents for the office

Examples of other activities you may participate in:

  • Clean the beach of tree trunks and other debris that has been washed on the beach
  • Clean the beach of all unwanted vegetation that takes over the nesting areas reducing the space available for turtles to nest
  • Plant trees in different areas of the beach and the town
  • Help with infrastructure activities like building schools, bridges, roads and other similar community activities


Volunteer in Turtle Conservation in Costa Rica

Host family at the sea turtle project where you’ll do your internship

An ideal volunteer on this project has a passion for animal conservation and biology, enjoys physical labor and loves being outdoors! You don’t need a degree or any previous experience for this project. You should be 18 years of age or older. Language – A basic level of Spanish would be an advantage. You will be spending time with local Costa Ricans – who may not speak English that well – but the coordinator and the biologist on site speak some basic English. If you would like to improve your Spanish before you can sign up for group or private Spanish classes! . Accommodation and Food You will be staying with a local host family very close to the beach. You will receive 3 local Costa Rican meals a day (usually consisting of rice, beans, vegetables, and sweet fruit juices), usually cooked by your host mum. Working Schedule Turtles arrive at the beach everyday, but usually at night. Sometimes turtles may arrive as early as 2pm – and therefore you will need to be flexible and work when you’re needed. You will usually work Monday to Friday, for about 6 hours (max) a day.

Volunteer in Turtle Conservation in Costa Rica

Host family accommodation – directly at the beach under palm trees

During times when sea turtles hatch there will be shifts protecting the baby turtles – usually between 4 p.m. until dark and 5:30 a.m. – 9 am in the morning.  Volunteers will work a minimum of 6 hours and during high season but you can work as much as 12 hours or more if you like. You can spend the weekends traveling Costa Rica, lying on the beach, or just hang out with your host family and new Tico amigos! If you’d like to do a longer trip, we can help you to organize a vacation before or after your volunteer time! Supervision and Co-workers You will be working closely with a local coordinator and the resident biologist. You will also be involved with the local community and other volunteers from all over the world. Throughout your placement you will have the support and guidance of experienced volunteer coordinators. You will be provided with a 24/7 emergency number.

Volunteer in Turtle Conservation in Costa Rica

In your free time you can surf – the beach where the sea turtles hatch is a prime surf spot

Project Location You will live on a beautiful beach on the Nicoya Peninsula, Guanacaste province, in Costa Rica, which is about a 5 hour bus ride from the capital San Jose. The community consists of about 1000 people – so you’ll get to know everyone quickly! A main goal of this project is community involvement – and thus you will be able to participate in community activies (birthday parties, weddings, funerals, events, etc.) and you’ll get to know the Costa Rican village life What you need to do to sign up Send us an email using our Contact Us Form, or go to Apply and send us your application and a photograph to info@glvolunteers.com. If you like you can also send a resume along with your application. Once we received your application and your photograph, we will contact the project and check for availability, and finally enroll you on the project. We will confirm your enrollment a few days after you submitted your application to us. What you can do before, during and after the project The turtle conservation beach is an amazing surf spot, and during your project you’re welcome to surf everyday! During your free time you can visit neighboring beaches, such as Tamarindo, Samara, and Nosara – all major surf and backpacker spots. Before beginning your project you’re welcome to learn some Spanish – and we can help you set up a Tour after your project! Just ask us  and we’ll make it happen! Costa Rica Beach Quick Facts Age requirement: 18+ Working Schedule: Monday to Friday for about 6 hours a day (but you can work more if you like). Sea turtles nest in the dark, but sometimes they arrive at around 2pm in the afternoon – so you will have to be flexible and ready to work when you’re needed. Language Requirement: It would be great if you speak some basic Spanish – but staff on the project also speak and understand some basic English. Costs: A one week experience starts from $549, for each additional week add on $229 per week. Accommodation – Host family Food – 3 Meals daily Location – A beach on the Nicoya Peninsula, about 5 hours bus ride from San Jose Welcome, Orientation, and Introduction 24/ 7 emergency telephone support Optional: A letter of recommendation and certificate at the end of your volunteer time Optional: Air-port pick-up. It is an additional $90 If you’d like us to pick you up from the airport and provide transport to your project. Groups are welcome to volunteer on the turtle conservation project! Not included in our costs are: National and International flights, travel insurance, visa costs, in-country transportation during program and for traveling the country, additional food or snacks, food for the first day of your arrival and first morning until you arrive at your host family, and any other personal expenses.

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