Location: Barra de Pacuare, Caribbean Coast, Costa Rica
Duration: Minimum 3 months commitment (or 7 days as a volunteer)
Cost: $10 USD per day (negotiable)
Fee Includes: all food, accommodation, pre-departure + in-country support, orientation and all project related activities
Does not Include: flights, airport pickup, travel insurance, personal spending, visas and vaccinations
Please note: This opportunity is designed to give you the contacts and experience to help further your career. You are not replacing any member of staff, but helping alongside them, whilst learning new skills.
- Collect data about nesting dynamics, relocation of eggs to a hatchery, collect data on hatchlings and release of hatchlings
- Hands-on experience in conservation efforts, including options for research, plastic contamination solutions and community projects.
- Ideal for those studying environmental science, marine biology, zoology, ecology, conservation.
- Keywords: sea turtle research and conservation, leatherback turtles, eco-systems
The project is located in the north of the Caribbean province of Limn, 1km north of the Pacuare River Mouth. The beach is part of the 50km coastline stretching between Tortuguero National Park and the port of Limn, one of the biggest ports of Costa Rica. This astoundingly beautiful yet remote area
is the home of this community-based Conservation
programme. The international NGO running this project has been working for nearly three decades
together with scientists, conservationists and educators to promote sustainable sea turtle projects in the wider Caribbean region.
This conservation project works together with the local community
of Pacuare. Former poachers have been trained in sea turtle conservation and work together with volunteers to protect these critically endangered animals. The project does nightly and daily beach patrols
and operates a hatchery
. Volunteers take an important part in Pacuare, as their fees generate an income for the local inhabitants. The project strives to increase alternative livelihoods for coastal communities to take the need for poaching and hunting turtles away and to achieve a long lasting sustainable
sea turtle management.
The main threats to sea turtles on this public beach are caused by humans: egg poaching and hunting
nesting turtles are contributing to a population decline of all species. Especially in the Caribbean, the consumption of sea turtle meat and eggs or the utilization of turtle shell for jewelry production is rooted in long-lived local traditions and a strong belief that sea turtle eggs serve as an aphrodisiac. On top of these dangers, sea turtles also face the negative effects of global warming
and contamination, which results in nest and habitat loss due to beach erosion or entanglement in fishing gear and trash. Through the involvement of local inhabitants of this very isolated, small community, the Pacuare sea turtle project provides not only a unique opportunity for volunteers to experience a community-based
Costa Rican conservation project but also offers a legal and sustainable revenue for community members. The data taken from nesting females improves our understanding of their behaviour and helps coordinating conservation efforts worldwide.
Daily LifeNight Patrols
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!
A group of volunteers, led by an experienced patrol leader, walks one of the sectors of the 7.1km long beach searching for nesting females. An average night patrol will take 4 hours but can last longer in case of sea turtle encounters. Once a turtle is encountered on a night patrol, the volunteers work directly with it, taking carapace and nest dimension measurements, collecting eggs and collecting data. The collected eggs will be relocated on the beach or taken to the hatchery where the volunteers on shift will build a new nest and rebury the eggs. The number of eggs, nest location and turtle identification information (tag number) are then recorded by the hatchery attendant for further data analysis, for example determining hatchling survival rate.
This project applies a non-confrontation policy with poachers while patrolling the beach. Encounters with poachers are likely during turtle season but no communication or interference has proven to be the best way of dealing with illegal activities, as we are a conservation organization and not the police.Hatchery Duty
The main tasks in the hatchery will be relocating nests (as described above and after having had thorough training), monitoring nests, keeping predators out (ants, crabs, dogs), taking temperatures and measurements and releasing hatchlings. The approximate incubation time for all sea turtle eggs is 60 days, therefore midway through the season the duties of the hatchery volunteer increase as the hatchlings begin to emerge. At this time, all nests in the hatcheries must be checked every 20 minutes during day and night. If hatchlings are encountered, they must be counted and released in the evening to an appropriate location along the high tide line and observed until they reach the sea. All work must be done according to standard protocols and rules and only after receiving training.Day time work
Day time work will be for more or less two hours in the mornings, and can include beach cleanups, or involvement in small projects, maintenance of the equipment, including initial construction of the hatcheries amongst others.Please note:
all information above is subject to change. Please check the most up to date information on the Global Nomadic website when applying.