Daily Life on a Volunteer Project
Nightly Patrols, Hatchery Work, and more
Each project is different, but volunteering on a sea turtle conservation project usually involves patrolling the nesting beach with a group of researchers and other volunteers. When the group finds a turtle, volunteers will help collect data and tag it and either hide the nest by moving it to a safe location or marking its location. Researchers collect data such as length and width of the shell, where it nested, its tag number, and its physical condition.
Patrols generally last 4 hours and run from 8 pm to midnight or midnight to 4 am. Many projects also have shifts in an egg hatchery, where the eggs are protected from poachers and animals. Other jobs can include maintaining the equipment, cleaning the beach of driftwood, debris, and trash, and participating in educational programs.
At projects where most of the work is doing night patrols, volunteers generally have the daytime free to swim, explore the rainforest, visit local towns, or get to know the other volunteers and researchers.
While volunteering for a week or two can seem like a romantic getaway, it involves hard work and long hours. If that doesn’t appeal to you, you might be better suited for a group or customized tour. Volunteers are a huge boost to conservation efforts, but also involve a lot of time and effort for the local organizations in training.
Patrols happen every night, regardless of weather, and the projects need people who are committed to working their shifts regardless of conditions.
Sea Turtle Conservation Organizations with Volunteer Programs
Corcovado Foundation (Costa Rica)
Osa Conservation (Costa Rica)
ICAPO (El Salvador & Nicaragua)
Pretoma (Costa Rica)
Sea Turtle Conservancy (Costa Rica)
Sea Turtles Forever (Costa Rica)
Tortugueros Las Playitas (Mexico)
VivAzul (El Salvador)
WIDECAST Latin America (Costa Rica)