lunes, 25 de junio de 2012

Research Assistants for Sea Turtle Project Costa Rica

We are seeking Research Assistants for our Leatherback and Pacific Green Sea Turtle Research and Conservation Project in Ostional, Costa Rica for two time periods:
• November 1st, 2012 until January 20th, 2013 (81 Days)
• January 15th, 2013 until March 31st, 2012 (75 Days)

Purpose of Project
To improve the knowledge of the biology and ecology of the Leatherback (Dermochelys coriacea) and Pacific Green (Chelonia mydas agassizii) sea turtles on the Pacific coast of Costa Rica and implement guidelines for better conservation actions, and through working with international volunteers to build an appreciation for the species and the environment in which it lives.
Project Description
Ostional beach is located within the Ostional National Wildlife Refuge (ONWR) in the province of Guanacaste on the Pacific coast of Costa Rica. It is an important nesting beach for three of the world’s seven species of sea turtles, and has been active in sea turtle conservation for the past 40 years.
The three species that use the beach are:
• Leatherback sea turtle (Dermochelys coriacea), which nests from October – March.
• Pacific Green sea turtle (Chelonia mydas agassizii), which nests from September – May.
• Olive Ridley sea turtle (Lepidochelys olivacea), which nests year- round. This species exhibits solitary nesting, as well as, an unusual mass nesting behavior called arribada. Ostional is one of only a few arribada beaches world-wide.
The project was founded in 2005, and this will be the ninth season that the ISV project has been running in Ostional.
Our research is focused on the Leatherback and Pacific Green turtle populations, which historically have received less attention than the Olive Ridley turtles that nest at this beach. Until 2004 no comprehensive research on Leatherback and Pacific Green turtle activity at Ostional had ever been carried out and, despite high rates of poaching being reported, no specific measures had been implemented to protect these species.
The Leatherback sea turtle is in critical danger of extinction, having experienced a loss of 80% of the total world population in the last 10 years. Populations on the main nesting beaches of the Pacific have declined in some cases by 90%. It is estimated that by the year 2020 the Pacific populations of Leatherback may disappear completely if no actions are taken. The Pacific Green sea turtle (also known as the black turtle) is currently classified as endangered.
Years of nest stealing and an excessive mortality rate of adults and juveniles caused by fisheries and pollution can be considered the main causes for these turtles decline.
There is clearly an urgent need of conservation to safe guard these populations, however without data that provides knowledge of their biology and nesting habits it is difficult to frame appropriate management strategies. It is hoped that long term monitoring will yield data on adult females and their nests to enable the formulation of management alternatives that can be put into practice at this beach.
Project Duration
November 1st – March 31st each year
The Work
• Leading groups of volunteers on nightly beach patrols
• Collection of biometric data from nesting females
• Relocation of nests
• Morning track surveys
• Equipment maintenance
• Beach slope measurements
• Overseeing the operation of the hatchery (nest monitoring, collection of biometric data from hatchlings and hatchling liberation)
• Exhumations
• Volunteer training and involvement in educational discussions
• Assisting the Field Coordinator in the general smooth running of the project
Other work involves beach cleanup (to remove debris that would impede the movement of nesting females or hatchlings) and varying projects including the initial construction of a beach hatchery.
Cost/ Benefits:
Research Assistants will stay in the station of MINAET (Ministry of Environment and Energy and Technology) for the duration of the project.
Research Assistant (RA) positions are voluntary, and chosen RAs are expected to cover their own travel expenses, as well as to cover their own room and board during their stay ($15 per day for accommodation and three meals at the MINAET station)
• 21+ years of age
• Good physical condition
• Student of or Bachelor degree in Biology, Environmental studies, Ecological tourism or related field
• Previous field experience related to conservation (preferably reptiles) in remote and climatic difficult areas (preferably tropics)
• Fluency in English and/(or) Spanish
• Ability to work as part of a culturally diverse team
• Adherence to project rules to maintain a professional working environment and project image
• A positive attitude to motivate volunteers and help create an enjoyable experience
• Ability to withstand hot, humid and dry climate, and sleep deprivation
• Able to cope with VERY limited private space
• Ability to walk long distances (up to 12kms per night) on soft sand
• Personal travel medical insurance policy
Previous sea turtle experience is a great advantage, however full training will be provided upon arrival to the project site.
We appreciate people who use their initiative, are problem solvers, look to be useful in their spare time, and are interested in getting to know the community, understanding what community life is like, and what the community is trying to achieve without compromising their values.

Research Assistants must have a good level of fitness as the work can be strenuous to heavy, depending on the task. The project requires details of any pre-existing injuries or medical conditions to be declared at the time of application.

For more info, contact:

Interested applicants please send a cover letter, their current CV with contact details of three references (in pdf or word format) stating their preferred time period to:
Marta Pesquero (
Subject title: RA Application Ostional 2012-13