We are a science-based conservation project run by The Leatherback Trust that have been studying and protecting sea turtles in the Gulf of Papagayo for eight years. We collect scientific information on nesting turtles and protect their nests from natural and anthropogenic impacts, such as tidal inundation, egg poaching and climate change. Besides collecting data on sea turtles, we also have a side project to assess the biodiversity of the area.
Four species of sea turtles nest in the Gulf of Papagayo: leatherback turtles, green turtles, olive ridleys and hawksbill turtles. The green turtle is the most abundant, but we also registered critically endangered eastern Pacific leatherback turtles every year. The waters of the Gulf are also important internesting habitats and/or foraging grounds for all four species, and it is also frequent to see whales, dolphins, rays and several other species. During the project’s first few years of life, we have successfully reduced egg poaching, increased hatchling production and identified many unique species in the nearby and highly diverse marine and terrestrial ecosystems.
The area is remote and rich in biodiversity. Main volunteer duties take place at night and involve patrolling the beach (1.5 km long) and helping out collecting data on the turtles. Daylight activities include taking temperatures, helping with nest excavations and assisting with cooking or cleaning since we prepare meals ourselves.
We stay in a house/camp that is ~1.5 km from the beach. There is no internet and there is limited electricity (just enough to charge small items).
- Night patrols: These are ~4-6 hours shifts depending on the activity. During night patrols we identify, mark and measure nesting turtles, record nesting activities, count eggs and mark and protect the nests.
- Morning walks: (~2 hours) during morning walks we count tracks, verify nesting activity from the previous night and mark nests when needed.
- Other beach daylight activities: usually take place in the afternoon and include triangulation of nests, nest excavations, taking temperatures and giving information to tourists if these are present.
- Assisting with cooking and camp cleaning.
Our base camp is located at Playa Cabuyal, in the Gulf of Papagayo. The Gulf is located in North Pacific Costa Rica and is an extraordinarily rich marine and terrestrial area. Cabuyal is at approximately 1 hour from the Liberia International airport and about 6 hours from the San Jose International airport.
The camp is ~ 1.5- 2 km from the beach. We stayed in a small house with four rooms, two bathrooms and one outside kitchen. We can accommodate 10-12 people at the time.
Volunteers can arrive any day of the week and stay for a minimum of two weeks. At this time of the season, it is possible to join the team during the following months:
- September, 2019
- October, 2019
- November, 2019
- December, 2019
- January, 2020
- February, 2020
- March, 2020
We are looking for enthusiastic volunteers that are willing to work as part of a team and have a genuine interest for nature and field work.
There is not internet at the camp site and there is limited electricity and phone coverage. It is important that the volunteer can live under these conditions and enjoy them.
Volunteers must be able to walk on soft sand and work for several hours at night.
Minimum age is 18 years old.
The cost to participate in the project is $17 per day to cover for food and other expenses (three meals per day). Volunteers must have their own health insurance and cover their own expenses to travel to and from the site.
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