Research Assistant/ Sea Turtle Project

Nicoya Peninsula, Guanacaste, Costa Rica
Jul 29, 2019
Oct 29, 2019
Job Level
Entry level, Mid level
Employment Type
Internship, Volunteer
Salary Type

Background Information
The Rescue Center for Endangered Marine Species (CREMA) runs four sea turtle nesting beach conservation projects on the southern Nicoya Peninsula of Costa Rica. The projects are open annually during the Olive Ridley nesting season. Olive Ridleys are the principal species that nest on these beaches, but there is also sporadic nesting of Green, Leatherback, and Hawksbill sea turtles. Egg poaching is the principal threat to the nesting sea turtles on these beaches. Secondary threats include nest predation, plastic pollution, beach development and tourist traffic. In the beaches CREM operates we use a multifaceted approach for the conservation of sea turtles, including; beach patrols, relocating nests into project hatcheries, environmental education and awareness with the local community, generating job opportunities for the locals and promoting sustainable tourism development. Research Assistants are responsible for assisting the Coordinator with all aspects of the project, including managing volunteers, leading night patrols, organizing community environmental education activities, and maintaining the station house.

Research Assistants are trained to conduct and lead nightly 3-4 hour beach patrols, in which they take biometric data from nesting sea turtles, tag their front flippers, and move their nests to a protected area if there is one available.

Other responsibilities vary among the projects, and include the following:

  • Assisting in the training of new volunteers.
  • Leading volunteers and tourists on night patrols.
  • Conducting morning censuses to check the status of in-situ nests.
  • Recording physical data such as precipitation levels and temperatures.
  • Building and maintaining the project hatchery.
  • Monitoring the hatchery during the night or day for emerging hatchling and intruding predators.
  • Exhuming nests and collecting data on unhatched eggs.
  • Community environmental education activities.
  • Maintaining and cleaning the station house.
  • Cooking meals.

Research assistants are expected to stay at the project site for the entire period for which they are selected. Preference will be given to potential applicants that meet the following requirements:

  • Advanced university student or recent graduate in biological sciences or related fields.
  • Conversational Spanish and English.
  • Independent, reliable and responsible.
  • Motivated and positive.
  • Able to adapt to unexpected situations and unfamiliar cultures.
  • Able to undertake physical labor during night and day in extreme weather conditions.
  • Experience working within a team.
  • Strong interpersonal communication skills.
  • Comfortable working in the outdoors or in isolated settings
  • Previous experience with sea turtles or conducting field research.

Since many of the research assistants’ responsibilities are physically demanding, they are expected to be in good physical and medical shape. Also, since our projects are in isolated locations where access to medical
treatment can be challenging, participants must disclose any medical conditions or possible risks before confirming their placement with our program.


  • Term: 11th September-20th November (only Bejuco, Corozalito)
  • Term: 22nd September-15th December (only Costa de Oro, San Miguel)
  • Term: 17th November- 29th January 2020 (only Bejuco, Corozalito)

There are positions available at our four projects located on the Southern Nicoya Peninsula, Guanacaste, Costa Rica:

  1. Costa de Oro
  2. San Miguel
  3. Bejuco
  4. Corozalito

San Miguel and Costa de Oro are projects with a variable number of volunteers. Assistants of these projects must be really sociable and be willing to work with a constantly changing team.
Bejuco Project is more rustic and strongly involved with the local community.
Corozalito is the most physically demanding project due to the characteristics of its beach.


  • Research Assistants pay a $1100-1400 USD fee that covers basic meals and accomodation for the entire internship. 
  • Turtle Trax and CREMA provide a training workshop upon arrival. This includes several lectures on current sea turtle conservation research topics, safety training, team building activities, and field research training. 
  • All RAs have the option of participating in the Independent Research Project Program, in which they can complete a project with their team during the internship with the assistance of one of CREMAs biologists. 
  • All interns must follow the Turtle Trax Program Rules for the entire duration of their placement. Failure to do so results in immediate termination of placement without refund.


Additional Contact Information

Application Information :

  • Cover letter (specifying which period and location options you would prefer). 
  • Resume/CV
  • List of the email addresses of at least 3 references

Please send applications to Carmen Mejías-Balsalobre at the following email address:

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