Sea Turtle Volunteer Costa Rica (Osa Program- South Pacific of Costa Rica)!
Do you want to be part of a team trying to save endangered species in one of the most pristine locations in the world? Are you motive in live in a rustic but beautiful landscape and work with scientists to track turtles and save their environment? You should check out Global Crossroad’s volunteering in the turtle conservation program in Costa Rica.
In Costa Rica, scientists have been involved in research and habitat protection for years. The work is extensive and their data is slowly building pictures of the treatment sea turtles face.
These turtles always return to nest on the beach at which they were hatched, but many turtles never return due to natural predators and the ones who do face eroding beaches, pollution and other physical challenges upon arrival.
Conservation efforts can do little to combat natural predators, but focus on protecting the nesting population who does return "home". Human poachers also pose a threat on top of natural challenges. The rate of decline is so high that, if not slowed, the sea turtle will be extinct in two decades.
The project needs dedicated volunteers to help them gather data and protect nesting sites. This will be a wonderful hands-on learning experience. You will feel highly satisfied knowing that your contribution to the volunteer with turtle conservation program in Costa Rica makes a huge difference in the present and future lives of these special marine animals.
Volunteer Responsibilities & Impacts
You’ll be joining a team of scientists and fellow volunteers carrying out groundbreaking research in the sea grass meadows of the Golfo Dulce. The meadows were recently discovered to be the foraging grounds of endangered sea turtles, and the perfect spot to study the turtles in the water where very little is known about their lives.
Almost all scientific research about sea turtles up until now has been carried out on nesting mothers, but even females only spend 1% of their life on land. Volunteer in Costa Rica sea turtle research, and head out on a boat with a team of scientists to help catch, tag, and track wild turtles to learn more about young turtles, males, and what they do while in the water.
This research is not only vital to the overall knowledge and understanding of these endangered sea turtles, it will help better protect and preserve the animals by getting a clearer picture of the threats they face in their ocean environment. Gain practical experience learning and implementing a variety of scientific techniques!
Sea Turtle Conservation Costa Rica Volunteer : Programs
In-Water Monitoring Study
With so little known about the lives of sea turtles in the ocean, more data is needed to better understand and protect them. Costa Rica sea turtle conservation volunteers will head out on boats into the Golfo Dulce with a team of scientists, trawl for sea turtles, catch a specimen in a net, and bring it back to the beach to gather the data needed for the study.
If the turtle does not already have a tag, you will learn how to tag the turtle for future study. You will learn how to take tissue samples, and you will also collect the weight and measurement of the turtle. A great chance to learn professional scientific techniques and gain hands-on experience working in the field!
Sea Turtle Rescue and Rehabilitation
The Costa Rica turtle volunteer program also operates a field rescue center. If an injured turtle is brought in off the boat, or if it is brought to the project from another beach, you will help carry and restrain the turtle as it receives its treatment. The turtles are held in tanks and cared for until they are ready to be released back into their ocean home.
At the rescue center you will also help care for the turtles who are being rehabilitated. This involves cleaning their tanks, changing the water, measuring and recording data, and helping to remove parasites from the animals with the assistance of an experienced staff. Help injured turtles on their journey back out to sea!
Sea turtle volunteer in Costa Rica will also help in the much-needed mangrove restoration efforts that are underway at Playa Blanca. The mangroves are an essential part of the habitat that stops the coastline from eroding. Sadly, most of the habitat has been destroyed, and the beach which sea turtles nest on is washing away.
You’ll gather mud, collect seeds, and plant in the nursery. You’ll transplant the larger seedlings into their natural habitat, doing your part to help restore the mangrove and protect the fragile coastline.
Sea Grass Monitoring
This study is done every three months and is vital to learning more about this previously unexplored habitat of the Golfo Dulce sea grass meadows. Costa Rica sea turtle conservation volunteer will count blades of grass, and document the varieties growing in the area.
Not only is the sea grass the foraging grounds for the sea turtles, it plays an important role in this unique ecosystem that deserves more study. Sea grass connects the mangroves to the coral reefs, prevents erosion, cycles nutrients and chemicals, oxygenates the water, and creates a nursery for young fish and other marine life.
All over the world, we are beginning to see the horrors of plastic pollution and the damaging effects it can have on marine life. Sea turtles suffer terribly from this problem, with many ingesting plastic unknowingly as it resembles jelly fish and other prey items that have for millennia fed and sustained this ancient species.
While volunteering with sea turtles in Costa Rica, you’ll pitch in helping clean up the local beach the project is stationed on, Playa Blanca. Help protect sea turtles and other marine animals from the dangers of trash and plastic debris and make the world a cleaner and more beautiful place to live at the same time!
Skills and Qualifications
Anyone over the age of 18 who is dedicated to helping sea turtles and is interested in contributing to important scientific research is welcome to join. You will need to be able to work in heat, humidity, rain and at both day and night. You must be in good shape and able to lift and hold large turtles. Most work is done on a boat, so you’ll need to be able to swim.
Spanish will be helpful while volunteering in Costa Rica in turtle conservation program, but is not required. If you’d like to work on your Spanish while you’re in Costa Rica, ask us about our language programs that allow you to learn while you travel.
If you have skills and experience in the field and are available for three months, you can apply for a research assistant position to make even more of a difference!
We’ve provided a sample schedule here because you might be wondering what a typical day will be like for you. However, work at a project like this is extremely variable, and you’ll be working odd hours at both day and night. You’ll have plenty of time to rest between your shifts, but you should keep an open mind when it comes to scheduling. When you join turtle conservation volunteering opportunity in Costa Rica, you can expect to volunteer an average of 5 hours per day, Monday-Friday. Your actual hours will vary based on your final placement.
Sea Turtle Conservation Costa Rica Volunteer: Dates and Fees
Dates: Volunteer in Costa Rica
All volunteer programs in Costa Rica start every Monday of each month. However, if there is travel constrains, you can start any project on any day.
Fees: Volunteer In Costa Rica
Global Crossroad is committed to offering the most affordable and highest quality volunteering programs in Costa Rica. We strive to keep our costs low. The humanitarian side of the business is our passion.
Global Crossroad's volunteer program in Costa Rica application and registration fee cost US $299. The application fee covers the cost of advertising, program promotion, and office expenses (rent, utilities, and staff salaries in USA office).
In addition to the application fee, you are required to pay a weekly program fee. You will pay your weekly fee directly to the country coordinator, who in turn will allocate it to your host family, project and other in-country support we offer to our volunteers. This way, the fees that you pay will benefit those who rightfully deserve them, and not for company profit.
Mandatory comprehensive travel insurance $3.49 a day »
No Spanish Language Program with the Turtle Conservation Project
Wildlife Conservation Program - Transportation from Airport Juan Santamaria $80/one way
How your fee is allocated?
Program fees cover:
- Accommodation (host family)
- Food (local food 3 times a day)
- Airport Pick up/Transfer
- Program Orientation
- In-country support
- Personalized project
- Pre-departure information
- Certificate of completion
- Fundraising ideas and letters
- Discount for returning volunteers
Program fees exclude:
- Personal expenses on soft drinks and foods
- Daily transportation
- Airport return transfer
Osa Peninsula (Airport Pick up and Transportation)
The Osa Turtle Conservation site is 100 miles from San Jose. Here are the details of the airport pick up and transfer fee.
- Airport Pick, first night at a hotel in San Jose $45
- Sanjose to Punterenas by bus $8
- Punterenas to Osa by bus $6
You will pay your airport pick up/transfer cost directly to staff in Costa Rica
Pacuare (Airport Pick Up and Transportation)
Pacuare Turtle Conservation site is 80 miles from San Jose. There are two options for you to choose from.
Option one- organized by GCR Volunteers
- Airport Pick, spend the first night in a hotel in San Jose $45
(If you arrive before 2 p.m. you can go directly to the project by taxi without staying in a hotel.)
- San Jose to Pecaure in a private taxi $150
- The boat transportation cost is 35$
Option two- travel by yourself to the project
If your flight arrives early in the morning, or before 10 a.m., you can choose to go to the project directly by public bus
- San Jose to Siquirres $6
- Siquirres to Las Vegas de Imperio $3
- The boat transportation cost is 35$
Bus Departure time from San Jose: 11 a.m.
Directions - traveling to your project
- From the Gran Terminal del Caribe of San José, take the 11:00 a.m. bus to Siquirres. You will arrive at Siquirres around 1:15 p.m.
- From the terminal at Siquirres walk to La Estación Intercantonal, also called Parada de los Calvos, (300m). (If you are not sure, just ask people where you can get on a bus to Las Vegas de Imperio).
- Take the 2:30 p.m. bus to Las Vegas de Imperio, getting off at the last stop.
- A staff member will be waiting for you there. The boat transportation cost is 35$ per person, both trips.
You will pay your airport pick up/transfer fee directly to staff in Costa Rica: Map
Gran Terminal del Caribe of San Jose: Map
The volunteering overseas in Costa Rica program fees will cover expenses that will begin on the first day of the program (usually the first or third Monday of the month) to the last day of the program. If you arrive before the first day of the program or you decide you stay beyond your program’s last day, you will be responsible for the additional expenses, which would typically be around $30 a day for room and meals at a hostel.
Accommodation and Meal
While volunteering in sea turtle conservation program in Costa Rica, you will have a choice of housing options, all owned by local Costa Rican families meaning you’re supporting the local economy as well as helping sea turtles. Options range from a private room to shared bunks, and one choice even has a/c! All rooms are basic, clean, and comfortable.
Free Time and Weekend Exploration
The project is stationed on beautiful Playa Blanca beach on the Osa Peninsula of Southern Costa Rica, so downtime can mean toes in the sand or hitting the waves. Use your weekends to explore the beautiful surrounding area. Nearby Puerto Jiminez is a fun town and a great place to book tours, and you won’t want to miss Corcovado National Park.
Learn more about the places you can visit while in Costa Rica. .
Safety and In Country Support
Your safety is our top priority here at Global Crossroad. We don’t want you to worry about a thing while volunteering in Costa Rica conserving sea turtles, so we carefully vet every detail of your trip to ensure a safe and satisfying experience abroad. You’ll also have the guidance and support of our in-country team.
Sea Turtle Conservation Costa Rica Volunteer: FAQs
It’s only natural you have a few questions before you’re ready to head off to Costa Rica for the volunteer trip of a lifetime. We’ve done this a time or two, having helped over 20,000 volunteers since 2003, so we’ve compiled some helpful info here to give you the answers you’re looking for:
Arrival and departure
You’ll fly into Juan Santamaria International Airport in San Jose, Costa Rica. Your airport pickup is included in your volunteer fee, and we’ll have someone waiting for you when you land who will take you safely to your accommodations. You will need to arrange your own departure transportation after completing the project.
To join this turtle conservation volunteering opportunity in Costa Rica, you may be eligible to simply ask for a visa stamp after your arrival at the airport in San Jose. However, do your research to learn the requirements. Most volunteers will be eligible for a 90-day tourist visa. You should know you will need to provide proof of onward travel. If you have a round trip ticket, this will serve as all the proof you need. Research the visa requirements at the official Immigration site of Costa Rica:
Be sure to make an appointment with you doctor a few weeks before you travel in order to get up to date on your vaccines. You should be up to date on your routine vaccines, as well as Hepatitis A & B and Typhoid. You can also find information on CDC website.
What should I bring?
Pack lightweight, fast-drying fabrics of shorts, t-shirts, and lightweight long-sleeved shirts and pants. Think hot weather and humid conditions. You’ll need lots of sunscreen, bugspray, anti-itch cream, and your own mosquito net to fight off the insects who you’ll have to learn to share the rainforest with.
You’ll want a pair of flip-flops, boots or sneakers for hiking, and waterproof closed toed shoes like Crocs for when you are working on the beach in Costa Rica volunteering with sea turtles. You’ll need a headlamp with a red light for working with the turtles at night to avoid damaging their sensitive eyes.
You’ll be on the beach, so don’t forget a couple of swimsuits, a sun hat if you need it, and a fast-drying towel.
Why Sea Turtle Conservation Costa Rica Volunteer?
Contribute to groundbreaking research
Up until now, almost all the scientific knowledge gathered about sea turtles has been collected by studying nesting mothers. Since their time on land only accounts for 1% of their lives, clearly there is a huge gap in what we know. Help close the gap and participate in groundbreaking scientific research projects!
Help protect an endangered species
The research being carried out at this project will help scientists better understand the threats faced by the sea turtles, their overall life cycle, and how we can best protect them. Help protect endangered sea turtles before it’s too late!
Gain experience working with professional scientists
Volunteer in Costa Rica sea turtle research and gain valuable experience working alongside passionate and experienced scientific professionals. If you’re pursuing a career in the field, this is a great chance to get your feet wet, and the experience looks amazing on a resume.
Learn fascinating scientific techniques
If you’re looking to increase your repertoire of field work skills, this is your chance! Learn how to do live capture, tag turtles, take tissue samples, gather biometrics, do wildlife rehabilitation, and more!
Contact Global Crossroad today to learn more about helping research sea turtles in Costa Rica!
Other Volunteer Opportunities Available in Costa Rica:
No matter your passion or interests, we offer a variety of life-changing, volunteer programs in Costa Rica such as
Caribbean Sea Turtle Conservation (Pacuare)
Wildlife Sanctuary and Rescue (Natuwa)
Wildlife Research and Sea Turtle Conservation (Reserva Playa)
For more information on our exciting programs in Costa Rica, contact us today.