The main goal of this project is to ensure the protection of various turtle species on the Caribbean and Pacific coasts of Costa Rica. These turtles face numerous threats, including poachers and, more recently, erosion. Each season, this project recruits volunteers to help with research and conservation work, such as night patrolling, working in the hatcheries, collecting eggs, and rescuing turtles.
IMPORTANT NOTE: Volunteers are placed at specific project locations either on the Pacific or Caribbean coast according to demand and time of year. Placements will be assigned during the orientation meeting in Costa Rica.
What's not Included
Costa Rica is one of the world's most popular eco-tourism destinations, primarily because of its incredible biodiversity (it's estimated that Costa Rica may contain as much as 6% of the worlds plant and animal species!). Costa Rica aptly translates to rich coast in Spanish for its diverse landscapes, which include rain forests, tropical and temperate forests, volcanos, beaches, high mountains, and marshy lowlands.
Your tasks will vary according to the season and the needs of the project. It's important to come with an open-mind, motivation, and flexibility to cope with unexpected changes. The majority of your tasks include:
- Monitoring sea turtle nesting activity (night patrols and morning surveys)
- Installing signs at the beaches regarding location and adaptation of the hatchery
- Building hatcheries
- Patrolling the beach to look for sea turtles and their nests either during the day or the night (done in 4 hour shifts)
- Collecting eggs found on the beach and taking them directly to the hatchery (vivero) for their protection
- Collecting information in the hatchery
- Releasing “neonatos” (baby sea turtles) from the hatchery into the ocean
- Maintaining the facilities of the project
- Keeping the beach clean and free of debris
- Participating in any specific environmental projects developed by the community
- Assisting in community-oriented activities to improve local facilities
Please take note of the project's minimum requirements:
- Minimum age 18
- Basic Spanish knowledge. If not, you should be prepared to enroll in additional weeks of Spanish lessons
- Physically fit: the 3-4 hour night patrols and daytime monitoring require hard physical work
- Good eyesight for night patrols conducted with special artificial lighting
- Physically able to walk 5-15 km per night (even when raining)
- Adaptable to high temperatures and humidity
- Able to cope with remote locations and rustic living conditions ( volunteer dorms with bunk beds, share shower & toilet facilities, you may find a wide variety of smaller animals in the surrounds)
- Flexible and open - minded to carry out a vriety of tasks, depending on project needs
Orientation and Spanish Courses (included)
The first week of this minimum three-week program consists of Spanish lessons (5 hours/ day, Monday - Thursday schedule total) and cultural enrichment activities to facilitate communication at your project and help you acclimate to Costa Rica. During the Spanish course, you will learn vocabulary, grammar, pronunciation and conversational skills. Participation in the orientation week is mandatory.
On the first day of your Spanish course, you will take an oral exam to determine your current language level. After you register and submit your application, you will also submit a written exam. Both the oral and written exam will be taken into consideration to determine which class you will placed in upon arrival. During your orientation week, you will also be assigned your project location.
A typical day during orientation: Spanish class begins at 9am, with a one hour break for lunch at noon and then finishing for the day at about 3pm. You will then have the chance to join different cultural enrichment activities such as Latin dance classes, Costa Rican cooking courses, yoga lessons or informal Spanish conversation practice. After 5pm, you will have the evenings free to explore the area with fellow volunteers, study or relax at home.
If you speak basic or no Spanish, you'll need to enroll in extra Spanish lessons for an additional fee.
If you speak fluent Spanish before coming to the project, an exception may be made to waive the language course (though it is highly recommended in order to have the most fulfilling experience). Your fluency will be determined by your written exam and during your phone interview. Please contact GoEco to discuss this option prior to registration.
For an additional $200 volunteers can join this project as an Intern. Internships are designed to provide participants with professional experience for career exploration and development. To ensure a valuable experience, you need to join this internship for a minimum of 4 weeks. An intermediate level of Spanish proficiency is usually required and, regardless of the Spanish level, at least one week of Spanish Immersion course and orientation prior to the start of the program is recommended.
This Internship program includes accommodation in San Jose with a host family for your first week (2 meals included), accomodation at your respective project site - which could include cabins, tents, or a volunteer house, Spanish course, orientation, bi-weekly follow-ups and 24/7 support during the program with a final evaluation. Interns will be required to work 6 days per week.