Location: Osa, Costa Rica.
Duration: Minimum 1 week commitment
Cost: from £1000 GBP Project Fee for the 1st week – see Costs tab for more information
Includes: 3 meals a day, accommodation, airport pickup, orientation and all project related activities
Does not Include: flights, travel insurance, visas and vaccinations
- Collect data about population structure, genetic origin and in-water habitats of endangered sea turtles.
- Hands-on experience in conservation efforts, including options for research, environmental education and community projects.
- Ideal for those studying animal science, marine biology, zoology, ecology, conservation.
- Keywords: sea turtle research and conservation, environmental education, reforestation, eco-systems
Nestled off the Osa Peninsula, one of the world’s 25 biodiversity hotspots, lies the Dulce Gulf – a tropical fjord teeming with an array of exotic species, including macaws, monkeys, dolphins, whales, and, of course, sea turtles. However, despite its stunning beauty, little is known about this area and its inhabitants, making it a prime target for conservation efforts.
Enter an international NGO that has been working tirelessly for over 20 years to promote sustainable sea turtle projects in the wider Caribbean region. Through this critical In-water Sea Turtle Conservation program, the project focuses on conducting in-water studies of Hawksbill and Eastern Pacific Green Turtles. As sea turtles spend a large part of their lives migrating between nesting and foraging areas, the conservation efforts surrounding them are highly complex and require long-term commitment.
This program is designed not only to protect and assist turtles, but also to educate and involve the local community, generating alternative and sustainable income sources for families. In fact, the project also operates a rescue and rehabilitation center, as well as a mangrove reforestation initiative. The in-water studies consist of exploring the feeding habitats used by turtles of different life stages to collect valuable data on population structure, genetic origin, health status, and habitat use. This data helps identify the types of threats faced by sea turtles in the area and guides targeted conservation efforts.
Furthermore, the project carries out critical studies on the health of the off-shore sea grass bed, a vital feeding habitat for many species, including sea turtles. While most conservation efforts focus solely on nesting beaches, this project seeks to expand research to better understand the quality of foraging areas and their use, and to create a comprehensive conservation approach that preserves the delicate balance of this unique ecosystem.
With over two decades of experience and expertise, this international NGO is dedicated to safeguarding the Dulce Gulf and promoting sustainable conservation efforts throughout the Caribbean region.
In-Water Sea Turtle Monitoring
It is important to remember that sea turtles always come first. This may mean working long, hard hours under hot and humid conditions; but in the end, it is worth it!
In-water monitoring surveys will be conducted at least twice a week (weather permitting) for about 6 hours at a time. Before setting out, the boat has to be prepared and you will be needed to help make sure all the necessary equipment is ready and on board. Once a sea turtle is caught, you will help take biometric data, tag and collect tissue and blood samples if needed. Depending on the condition of the turtle it will either be taken back to the rescue centre or released immediately back into the water.
The rescue centre was built to treat injured or sick turtles encountered during the in-water monitoring work or nearby beaches. When a sick or injured turtle is admitted to the centre, you will assist staff in evaluating the patient, recording data and helping stabilize the turtle. Other general duties in the centre include preparing food and feeding the turtles, changing water and cleaning holding tanks as well maintaining the centre tidy and clean at all times.
Mangroves play a very important role in the coastal ecosystems on the Pacific coast of Costa Rica and their rapid decline is a major cause of concern, not only for the sea turtles, but for the many other species they benefit as well.
Duties involved with this work include:
- Looking for seeds
- Gathering mud for plants and seedlings
- Sowing seeds in the plant nursery
- Planting propagules in the designated reforestation areas
- Maintaining plant nursery
Sea Grass Monitoring
Sea grass meadows are a crucial reason as to why we find sea turtles in the area and they are one of the most productive ecosystems on earth. As a part of the project you will help monitor the health status of these beds. Monitoring activities carried out will depend on local conditions.
During your time off from the conservation work, you can enjoy the beautiful surroundings of the Osa peninsula, a biodiversity hotspot in Costa Rica. Due to the absence of strong currents and waves, the water is perfect for swimming and snorkeling. The nearest town is 30 minutes away from the project, where you will find a greater variety of amenities.
Travel & Accommodation
You will be met at San Jose International airport and taken to a nearby hostel for your first night. The next day the coordinator will meet you at the hostel and give you an introduction and orientation to the project. You will then take the mid-day public bus to Osa. The project is located about 8 hours drive away from San Jose and goes through some of the highest points in Costa Rica so be sure to bring a warm sweater as it can be cold in places!
You will be staying 200 meters from the project base and staff house, in basic dorm style rooms shared with other volunteers. 3 meals per day will be provided by our local cook, and all volunteers will eat together.
- Minimum age 18
- Be keen and enthusiastic to get involved in the project
- Ability to work within a team environment
- Minimum 1 week commitment
- Police check (or equivalent) showing that you have no previous criminal convictions
- Signed medical form
- Fluent English skills
- Necessary vaccinations
- Necessary flight & visas
* 30% deposit required to confirm your place. The balance will be due 4 weeks prior to your departure.
** For the latest currency conversions, go to xe.com.
*** All payments incur a 5% bank transfer fee
- Airport pickup & transfer to the project (including first night stay in hostel)
- Program orientation and training
- Emergency and 24/7 In-Country Support
- Accommodation and 3 Meals Daily
- Certificate of Completion and CV Reference support
What’s Not included
- Additional meals, drinks, and gratuities
- Extra local excursions
- International and domestic airport taxes
- Medical and travel insurance
- Personal items and toiletries
- Police or background check
- Visa costs (where necessary)
Full assistance will be provided in getting all these arranged if you choose our Premium Support.
Premium Support Upgrade
We understand there’s a great deal to plan and organise for your trip. When booking a Placement, many of our participants choose to purchase our Premium Support Upgrade to benefit from the expertise, knowledge and experience of our Project Coordinators.
We can provide the personal advice you need to ensure your trip is organised with excellence and planned with efficiency; ensuring the very best experience possible. Read more about how we can help you.
Note: Map coordinates are approximate