The Sea Turtle project of the Gulf of Papagayo is run by The Leatherback Trust and it is a young project that was started in January of 2011. We have run other conservation and scientific projects in the Guanacaste area for ~25 years.
Four species have been identified to nest at Playa Cabuyal: leatherback turtles, green turtles, olive ridleys and hawksbill turtles. The green turtle is the most abundant, but Cabuyal is also an important secondary nesting beach for critically endangered eastern Pacific leatherback turtles. The waters of the Gulf of Papagayo are also important internesting habitats and/or foraging grounds for all four species of sea turtles, as well as whales, dolphins, rays and many other species. During the project’s first three years of life, we have reduced egg poaching from ~90% to less than 10%, increased hatchling production and identified hundreds of species in the nearby and highly diverse marine and terrestrial ecosystems.
We collect general information on the nesting ecology, population ecology and behavior of the turtles, and protect nests from poaching and other anthropogenic impacts. Additionally, we conduct surveys in the area to assess its biodiversity.
The sea turtle nesting beaches are located in the Gulf of Papagayo, a very productive marine area in North West Costa Rica. The camp is at approximately 1 hour from the Liberia International airport and about 6 hours from the San Jose International airport.
Our base camp is located at Playa Cabuyal, a very important nesting beach for green turtles in this area and a secondary beach for critically endangered eastern Pacific leatherback turtles. The camp is ~ 1.5- 2 km from the beach. Volunteers stay in bunk beds in a rustic house. We can accommodate ~10 people at the time. There is an outside kitchen and two bathrooms.
Night patrols: These are ~4-8 hours shifts depending on the activity. During night patrols we identify, mark and measure the turtles, record every nesting activity, count eggs and mark and protect nests.
Morning walks: (~2 hours) during morning walks we count tracks, verify nesting activity from the previous night and mark nests when needed.
Other beach activities during the day: usually take place in the afternoon. These include triangulation of nests, nest excavations or taking temperatures and give information to tourist when present.
Assisting with cooking and camp cleaning.
We are looking for enthusiastic volunteers that are willing to work as part of a team and have a genuine interest for nature and field work.
There is not internet at the camp site and there is limited electricity and phone coverage. It is important that the volunteer can live under these conditions and enjoy them.
Volunteers must be able to walk on soft sand for several hours and work under conditions of sleep deprivation at times.
Minimum age is 18 years old.
The cost to participate in the project is $15 per day to cover for food and other expenses (three meals per day). Volunteers must have their own health insurance and cover their own expenses to travel to and from the site.
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