Research Assistants for Sea Turtle Conservancy 2014 Leatherback Program
11 March - 31 May, 2014
Tortuguero, Costa Rica
Research and monitoring of sea turtles in Tortuguero, Costa Rica was initiated in the 1950´s by legendary sea turtle researcher Dr Archie Carr. Dr Carr continued his work in Tortuguero until his passing away in 1987 and the Sea Turtle Conservancy (STC) still continues the project making it the longest ongoing sea turtle conservation and monitoring program in the world. In 1995, the STC began the Leatherback Program to study the area's little known leatherbacks (Dermochelys coriacea). Each year from March - June the STC research team collects information about this critically endangered species. STC works closely with Costa Rican authorities, the Tortuguero community and other leatherback nesting beach monitoring groups. Information collected during the annual Leatherback Program plays a key role in developing effective management strategies for sea turtles in the area.
Eight RAs will be trained in sea turtle monitoring techniques by, and work under the supervision of, the STC Field Research Coordinator. The RA team will be made up of individuals from several countries from around the world, with an emphasis on Latin America and the Caribbean. The RAs main responsibilities include nightly tagging, track surveys, nest monitoring and excavation. RAs are responsible for tagging nesting turtles, collecting biometric data from females, recording nesting activity during track surveys, and other pertinent data collection.
Leatherback monitoring is carried out along 36 km (=22 miles) of nesting beach. Work activities include long hours of walking in extremely soft sand and excellent physical condition is a requirement for the RA positions. RAs should expect to work at all hours of the day and night, often with little sleep. During the Leatherback Program RAs work in very isolated locations, and sometimes stay at the park ranger station for several days at a time, away from the research station in Tortuguero.
In addition to monitoring work, RAs are also responsible for training short-term paying volunteers and leading volunteer groups during beach patrols. They will also work with the STC Education and Outreach Coordinator to develop and participate in various educational and awareness activities in the community of Tortuguero, and be required to assist in the STC Visitor Center to provide information about the work of STC to members of the public.
Good knowledge of English and Spanish, education in biology or related fields, previous fieldwork experience in the tropics, experience working/living in multicultural environments, experience working/living in isolated locations for extended periods, previous experience in environmental education and availability for the entire period of the program greatly improve your chances of being selected for a position.
RA positions are voluntary and those selected will be expected to plan and finance their own travel to and from Tortuguero. Selected RAs will receive board and lodging at the STC Field Station for the duration of their time working for STC in Tortuguero.
Additional Contact Information
For application information please contact Dr Emma Harrison at firstname.lastname@example.org