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Sea Turtle Conservation in Costa Rica

Volunteer to Protect Green, Hawksbill and Leatherback Sea Turtles in Tortuguero National Park

Program Details

Program Type

Volunteering

2 weeks from

$1,785.00

Code: CRJL0261P
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Program Information

Travel to Costa Rica's Tortuguero National Park and help protect endangered sea turtles. Assist with the monitoring of endangered green turtles and critically endangered hawksbill and leatherback turtle species, contributing to the long-term conservation of these species while you develop research skills and gain an understanding of the region's rain forest and it's ecosystem.
Overview
Project Life
Project Details
Free Time
The Team
Dates & Costs

Overview

Join the GVI wildlife conservation team in the heart of Tortuguero National Park in Costa Rica and help protect endangered sea turtles.Our team directly monitors endangered green turtles, and critically endangered hawksbill and leatherback turtle species during their nesting season. We can make serious contributions to ensure their continuous survival by recording vital data to track these animals.

During your stay, you will not only contribute to the preservation of marine turtles, but you will join a team contributing to the development and management of long-term wildlife conservation efforts along Central America’s Caribbean coast.

Even though turtle conservation will be a main part of your activities, during your time on this expedition you will truly gain a holistic understanding of the Costa Rican rainforest and its ecosystem by conducting important research on jaguars and aquatic birds, as well as conducting biological assessment surveys of the area. In addition you will receive additional training across a wide variety of subjects and gain a plethora of skills that will help you further your ability to operate professionally in the field.

Run in conjunction with the Costa Rican Ministry of Environment, Energy and Telecommunications (MINAET), this project offers unique opportunities to explore the natural habitat of these amazing turtles, as well as offering continuous hands-on training.

Highlights Include…

Getting the chance to go on this unique adventure in a Costa Rican National Park; enjoying life at the research station; learning about the wildlife and their habitat; seeing unique wildlife in marine and coastal rainforest environments including remote Caribbean beaches and tropical rainforest, seeing endangered species; watching turtles nest on a remote beach as they have been doing for millions of years;  exploring this wonderful Central American country.

Testimonials

"It was great to be in such an amazing location with people from all over the world and from all walks of life. Everyone wanted to get something different out of the trip, but essentially we all shared a common interest in conservation. It was brilliant to experience a completely different way of life in an environment so alien to my own. Everything I had studied at school suddenly became a reality and it was awe inspiring. I loved having the opportunity to work with such creatures as majestic and mysterious as marine turtles and know that few people will get the chance to have direct contact with them in their natural habitat. I was also pleased that we had the chance to see the country; I would have been disappointed had I not been able to visit other places in Costa Rica and not been able to participate in activities such as white water rafting and ziplining that the country is renowned for."

- Rhiannon Harrington, (United Kingdom)

GVI Live

These updates cover all programs in this location

GVI Jalova

So far we worked in total 59 #Greenturtes, 31 #Leatherbacks and 10 #Hawksbills. Also, 15 nests for the first two species and 6 for the third
July 21, 2014

GVI Jalova

amazing sighting of a family of nine-banded Armadillos on Kingfisher Trail #GVI #TortugueroNationalPark #mammals http://t.co/J1myHAGZSq
July 15, 2014

Latin America Video

GVI Blogs

2 WEEKS AGO
Wildlife Conservation
  By gvi_admin

Students

What's Included

  • Pre-departure support and discounted services
  • 24-hour emergency phone
  • Airport pick-up (unless otherwise stated)
  • Long term experienced staff
  • Safe and basic accommodations (usually shared)
  • All meals (unless otherwise stated in field manuals)
  • Welcome meeting
  • Location orientation
  • All necessary project training by experienced staff
  • All necessary project equipment and materials
  • 24-hour in-country support

What's Not Included

  • Flights
  • Medical and travel insurance
  • Visa costs
  • Personal kit
  • Additional drinks and gratuities
  • Extra local excursions
  • International and domestic airport taxes

Parents

Why Study Abroad

GVI Difference

What's Included

  • Pre-departure support and discounted services
  • 24-hour emergency phone
  • Airport pick-up (unless otherwise stated)
  • Long term experienced staff
  • Safe and basic accommodations (usually shared)
  • All meals (unless otherwise stated in field manuals)
  • Welcome meeting
  • Location orientation
  • All necessary project training by experienced staff
  • All necessary project equipment and materials
  • 24-hour in-country support

What's Not Included

  • Flights
  • Medical and travel insurance
  • Visa costs
  • Personal kit
  • Additional drinks and gratuities
  • Extra local excursions
  • International and domestic airport taxes

Course Life

The majority of your time will be spent working directly in the field, collecting data for ongoing projects and learning vital research techniques. The work you do is extremely important, and days can be long and work can continue throughout the day and night.

Apart from nest checks and possible nest excavations during the day, you will be conducting some night-time patrols along the tropical beach, looking for nesting turtles and counting tracks. In the event of finding a turtle during your patrol, you may assist the GVI Patrol Leader by helping to measure the turtle, count the eggs being laid, look for previous tags and distinctive markings and record the data. You may also be lucky enough to see and record the juvenile turtles emerging from the nest and record data on hatchling success, poaching rates and mortality rates.

When not in the field, the rest of your time will be spent at our base, processing data and getting to know your fellow volunteers.

In order to study and track these turtles in their natural habitat you will be living in a basic and remote setting. The base is a one hour boat journey from the nearest small shops, phones and internet facilities.

Our base is small but comfortable, with enough space for people to relax together or in private.

What's Included

  • Pre-departure support and discounted services
  • 24-hour emergency phone
  • Airport pick-up (unless otherwise stated)
  • Long term experienced staff
  • Safe and basic accommodations (usually shared)
  • All meals (unless otherwise stated in field manuals)
  • Welcome meeting
  • Location orientation
  • All necessary project training by experienced staff
  • All necessary project equipment and materials
  • 24-hour in-country support

What's Not Included

  • Flights
  • Medical and travel insurance
  • Visa costs
  • Personal kit
  • Additional drinks and gratuities
  • Extra local excursions
  • International and domestic airport taxes

Course Details

In order to track and collect data on endangered and critically endangered green, hawksbill and leatherback sea turtles, tasks will involve – recording spatial and seasonal distribution; monitoring nest numbers; determine levels of illegal poaching on turtles and their nests; record success rates of turtle hatchlings; track returning turtles to the nesting beach and migrations between beaches; determine whether jaguars are having an impact on the marine turtle populations.

You should also expect to be involved in other on-going research projects taking place on our base depending on requirements at any given time. These projects could include – jaguar, mammal and prey species abundance studies, designed to track and monitor jaguar numbers and their prey; or the monitoring of 30 key aquatic bird species to collect long-term seasonal trend data on resident and migratory birds.

Our goal is to develop and sustain the long term conservation of the Tortuguero area and aid in the preservation of their native sea turtle populations by providing data to the Costa Rican Ministry of Environment.

How this project makes a difference:

GVI’s data goes out to national and international organisations, is presented at international conferences, and is used in species and area management policy development.

Sea turtle conservation efforts have been successful in decreasing poaching rates and improving protection of beaches and other natural habitats for sea turtles.

GVI’s data goes out to national and international organizations, is presented at international conferences, and is used in species and area management policy development.

Sea turtle conservation efforts have been successful in decreasing poaching rates and improving protection of beaches and other natural habitats for sea turtles.

What's Included

  • Pre-departure support and discounted services
  • 24-hour emergency phone
  • Airport pick-up (unless otherwise stated)
  • Long term experienced staff
  • Safe and basic accommodations (usually shared)
  • All meals (unless otherwise stated in field manuals)
  • Welcome meeting
  • Location orientation
  • All necessary project training by experienced staff
  • All necessary project equipment and materials
  • 24-hour in-country support

What's Not Included

  • Flights
  • Medical and travel insurance
  • Visa costs
  • Personal kit
  • Additional drinks and gratuities
  • Extra local excursions
  • International and domestic airport taxes

Life on the Internship

The majority of your time will be spent working directly in the field, collecting data for ongoing projects and learning vital research techniques. The work you do is extremely important, and days can be long and work can continue throughout the day and night.

Apart from nest checks and possible nest excavations during the day, you will be conducting some night-time patrols along the tropical beach, looking for nesting turtles and counting tracks. In the event of finding a turtle during your patrol, you may assist the GVI Patrol Leader by helping to measure the turtle, count the eggs being laid, look for previous tags and distinctive markings and record the data. You may also be lucky enough to see and record the juvenile turtles emerging from the nest and record data on hatchling success, poaching rates and mortality rates.

When not in the field, the rest of your time will be spent at our base, processing data and getting to know your fellow volunteers.

In order to study and track these turtles in their natural habitat you will be living in a basic and remote setting. The base is a one hour boat journey from the nearest small shops, phones and internet facilities.

Our base is small but comfortable, with enough space for people to relax together or in private.

What's Included

  • Pre-departure support and discounted services
  • 24-hour emergency phone
  • Airport pick-up (unless otherwise stated)
  • Long term experienced staff
  • Safe and basic accommodations (usually shared)
  • All meals (unless otherwise stated in field manuals)
  • Welcome meeting
  • Location orientation
  • All necessary project training by experienced staff
  • All necessary project equipment and materials
  • 24-hour in-country support

What's Not Included

  • Flights
  • Medical and travel insurance
  • Visa costs
  • Personal kit
  • Additional drinks and gratuities
  • Extra local excursions
  • International and domestic airport taxes

Program Details

In order to track and collect data on endangered and critically endangered green, hawksbill and leatherback sea turtles, tasks will involve – recording spatial and seasonal distribution; monitoring nest numbers; determine levels of illegal poaching on turtles and their nests; record success rates of turtle hatchlings; track returning turtles to the nesting beach and migrations between beaches; determine whether jaguars are having an impact on the marine turtle populations.

You should also expect to be involved in other on-going research projects taking place on our base depending on requirements at any given time. These projects could include – jaguar, mammal and prey species abundance studies, designed to track and monitor jaguar numbers and their prey; or the monitoring of 30 key aquatic bird species to collect long-term seasonal trend data on resident and migratory birds.

Our goal is to develop and sustain the long term conservation of the Tortuguero area and aid in the preservation of their native sea turtle populations by providing data to the Costa Rican Ministry of Environment.

How this project makes a difference:

GVI’s data goes out to national and international organisations, is presented at international conferences, and is used in species and area management policy development.

Sea turtle conservation efforts have been successful in decreasing poaching rates and improving protection of beaches and other natural habitats for sea turtles.

GVI’s data goes out to national and international organizations, is presented at international conferences, and is used in species and area management policy development.

Sea turtle conservation efforts have been successful in decreasing poaching rates and improving protection of beaches and other natural habitats for sea turtles.

What's Included

  • Pre-departure support and discounted services
  • 24-hour emergency phone
  • Airport pick-up (unless otherwise stated)
  • Long term experienced staff
  • Safe and basic accommodations (usually shared)
  • All meals (unless otherwise stated in field manuals)
  • Welcome meeting
  • Location orientation
  • All necessary project training by experienced staff
  • All necessary project equipment and materials
  • 24-hour in-country support

What's Not Included

  • Flights
  • Medical and travel insurance
  • Visa costs
  • Personal kit
  • Additional drinks and gratuities
  • Extra local excursions
  • International and domestic airport taxes

Project Life

The majority of your time will be spent working directly in the field, collecting data for ongoing projects and learning vital research techniques. The work you do is extremely important, and days can be long and work can continue throughout the day and night.

Apart from nest checks and possible nest excavations during the day, you will be conducting some night-time patrols along the tropical beach, looking for nesting turtles and counting tracks. In the event of finding a turtle during your patrol, you may assist the GVI Patrol Leader by helping to measure the turtle, count the eggs being laid, look for previous tags and distinctive markings and record the data. You may also be lucky enough to see and record the juvenile turtles emerging from the nest and record data on hatchling success, poaching rates and mortality rates.

When not in the field, the rest of your time will be spent at our base, processing data and getting to know your fellow volunteers.

In order to study and track these turtles in their natural habitat you will be living in a basic and remote setting. The base is a one hour boat journey from the nearest small shops, phones and internet facilities.

Our base is small but comfortable, with enough space for people to relax together or in private.

What's Included

  • Pre-departure support and discounted services
  • 24-hour emergency phone
  • Airport pick-up (unless otherwise stated)
  • Long term experienced staff
  • Safe and basic accommodations (usually shared)
  • All meals (unless otherwise stated in field manuals)
  • Welcome meeting
  • Location orientation
  • All necessary project training by experienced staff
  • All necessary project equipment and materials
  • 24-hour in-country support

What's Not Included

  • Flights
  • Medical and travel insurance
  • Visa costs
  • Personal kit
  • Additional drinks and gratuities
  • Extra local excursions
  • International and domestic airport taxes

Project Details

In order to track and collect data on endangered and critically endangered green, hawksbill and leatherback sea turtles, tasks will involve – recording spatial and seasonal distribution; monitoring nest numbers; determine levels of illegal poaching on turtles and their nests; record success rates of turtle hatchlings; track returning turtles to the nesting beach and migrations between beaches; determine whether jaguars are having an impact on the marine turtle populations.

You should also expect to be involved in other on-going research projects taking place on our base depending on requirements at any given time. These projects could include – jaguar, mammal and prey species abundance studies, designed to track and monitor jaguar numbers and their prey; or the monitoring of 30 key aquatic bird species to collect long-term seasonal trend data on resident and migratory birds.

Our goal is to develop and sustain the long term conservation of the Tortuguero area and aid in the preservation of their native sea turtle populations by providing data to the Costa Rican Ministry of Environment.

How this project makes a difference:

GVI’s data goes out to national and international organisations, is presented at international conferences, and is used in species and area management policy development.

Sea turtle conservation efforts have been successful in decreasing poaching rates and improving protection of beaches and other natural habitats for sea turtles.

GVI’s data goes out to national and international organizations, is presented at international conferences, and is used in species and area management policy development.

Sea turtle conservation efforts have been successful in decreasing poaching rates and improving protection of beaches and other natural habitats for sea turtles.

What's Included

  • Pre-departure support and discounted services
  • 24-hour emergency phone
  • Airport pick-up (unless otherwise stated)
  • Long term experienced staff
  • Safe and basic accommodations (usually shared)
  • All meals (unless otherwise stated in field manuals)
  • Welcome meeting
  • Location orientation
  • All necessary project training by experienced staff
  • All necessary project equipment and materials
  • 24-hour in-country support

What's Not Included

  • Flights
  • Medical and travel insurance
  • Visa costs
  • Personal kit
  • Additional drinks and gratuities
  • Extra local excursions
  • International and domestic airport taxes

Free Time

Volunteering with GVI not only allows you to participate on programs assisting disadvantaged communities or endangered ecosystems but it also offers wonderful opportunities to travel in the local area in your down time or further afield either before or after your program. Many decide to travel after volunteering, solidifying the lifetime friendships established on program.

Our long term field staff are a great source of advice and are here to help you make the most of your time abroad. Remember to ask about discounts on local activities and side trips through your association with GVI. Our Jalova field teams have helped us put together the following information on trips and travel options in Costa Rica!

Optional Side Trips

Given your isolated location, a lot of your down time will be spent on base, the rainforest is not a place to go wondering! However there are still some possibilities in the immediate area for you to make the most of your time in Costa Rica. You can visit Tortuguero Village, browse its small souvenir shops, visit the delicious bakery and just watch the world go lazily by. For longer term volunteers on long weekend breaks, you could decide to head off base and further explore the Caribbean region. Hiking, snorkelling, fishing, or canopy and zip-line tours are just some of the activities that are possible in the area. For something a bit more intense, you could raft on the white waters of the famous Pacuare River on class III to IV rapids over the course of 1- or 2-day trips. And if the adventure activities are not for you, then simply relax in a laidback Caribbean village!

Further Travelling Opportunities

Costa Rica is an amazing country with an abundance of travel opportunities further afield with the following just a snapshot of the many possibilities!

Admire the famous and active Volcan Arenal from a distance and relax in the natural hot springs; surf the Salsa Brava – a hotspot of the Caribbean for the advanced surfer; ride horseback on the beach in Puerto Viejo or simply enjoy miles and miles of beautiful beaches kissed by palm trees; spot migratory raptor birds in the Talamanca Mountains and visit indigenous villages to learn more about their amazing culture; discover the cloud forest at Monteverde, visit the hummingbird gallery, enjoy the locally made ice cream and other fresh dairy products or walk among the treetops on the hanging bridges; enjoy the organised wildlife tours of Braulio Carrillo National Park; travel across the country to discover the beautiful Pacific Coast with its hidden white sand beaches; visit Volcan Irazu and discover coffee farms on the way back to San Jose; back in the capital, visit the Gold Museum or the Jade Museum, attend a play in one of the numerous theatres or take in the Latin American vibe with its lively nightlife.

 

The Team

Frank Spooner
Project Coordinator

Meet Frank, one of our Project Coordinators in Jalova. What does Frank like most about being based here? “We find such amazing animals, and we’re constantly learning. We get to see Whale Sharks, Bull Sharks, Jaguar, Anaconda and so many amazing frogs and butterflies – a not so secret passion of mine!”

Franks highlight since working for GVI? “Working on a ‘before and after’ multi taxa study of the edge effect of a road going through Primary Amazon Rainforest. Quite a mouth-full to say but it was an amazing project to be involved with.”

What does Frank have to say about volunteers’ contributions to the project? “Volunteers help me with everything I do! They’re in the field finding animals and evidence of animals that can’t be done with just one or two people. It’s also great to have more people around, making base a more social environment.”

Christina Harnois
Logistics Manager

Meet Christina, our Logistics Manager for Costa Rica, based in Quepos. What does she love about being based here? “I’ve seen so many creatures it’s just unreal! Spider monkeys, capuchins, howlers, crocodiles, iguanas, sloths, turtles and countless bugs and birds. It’s become such a normal part of the day, sometimes I have to remind myself how special it is!”

Christina’s highlight since working for GVI? ”Our acceptance into the community by the teachers, children and community members. It’s amazing to feel so welcome and comfortable.”

What does Christina think volunteers bring to the project? “Their enthusiasm and care for the children has been so inspiring and it makes our work in the community possible. Watching them develop trusting relationships with the children is so satisfying.”

Mariliana Leotta
Base Manager

Meet Mariliana, our Base Manager in Jalova. She’s got over 18 years’ experience in conservation and natural sciences. She’s a Biologist, a scuba instructor with over 1000 dives behind her, an underwater videographer and she’s even taught marine biology.

Her most memorable occasion since joining us in Jalova? Seeing four jaguars in one day, which included two cubs! Her favourite aspect of her job? ‘Meeting with our partners like MINAE to discuss project development and going out on the surveys whenever possible’.

What does Mariliana have to say about volunteers? ‘They’re essential for our project because they collect data with us every day, and help us to cook and maintain base. The Interns placed on base assist with just about everything as well!’

Blaine Clarke
Country Director

Meet Blaine, she studied biology and medicine, worked as a rafting guide and adventure tour leader across Central and South America, before joining a social justice NGO in San Francisco. Luckily for us, she missed South America so we snapped her up as our Country Director for Ecuador. When that project was successfully wrapped up, she moved across to Costa Rica!

We asked Blaine what volunteers bring to the party in Costa Rica. ‘We couldn’t do what we do without our volunteers. They are the front line, out there with the staff every day, hiking the trails and collecting the data, or arriving bright and early to the school every morning with a smile on their faces and fun and inspiring lessons in hand. We have amazing staff, but no matter how hard-working they are, we could not have the reach and impact that we do without our volunteers.”

Laura Dix
Director of Program Enrolment

Meet Laura. In addition to once being a promising figure skater, Laura is also a trained animal handler, and used to volunteer at a zoo in NYC. She likens herself to Blossom from the Powerpuff Girls, “She’s the brains of the operation”. We can’t argue there, HQ would fall apart without her!

She joined the Costa Rica Wildlife Expedition as a volunteer and immediately knew there was no going back to working for The Man. She became an ambassador and started planning her next trip when we sent her the Regional Coordinator vacancy. 5 weeks later she was in Cape Town!

Laura’s one travel must-have she recommends to volunteers? Coconut Desert Essence shampoo… “It smells amazing and it’s environmentally friendly. No-one should have to sacrifice their hair while travelling, even in remote environments.”

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What's Included

  • Pre-departure support and discounted services
  • 24-hour emergency phone
  • Airport pick-up (unless otherwise stated)
  • Long term experienced staff
  • Safe and basic accommodations (usually shared)
  • All meals (unless otherwise stated in field manuals)
  • Welcome meeting
  • Location orientation
  • All necessary project training by experienced staff
  • All necessary project equipment and materials
  • 24-hour in-country support

What's Not Included

  • Flights
  • Medical and travel insurance
  • Visa costs
  • Personal kit
  • Additional drinks and gratuities
  • Extra local excursions
  • International and domestic airport taxes

Our Impact

Location

Jalova

GVI’s research station in Jalova is found in the stunning Tortuguero National Park, surrounded on three sides by protected rainforest and on the other by the Caribbean Sea and a beach that is home to one of the largest nesting colonies of Green Turtles in the world. Spend your time surrounded by the breathtaking scenery and wildlife of the rich canals, tropical rainforest and Caribbean beaches. There is no road access to this location, so all transportation is via canoe and motor boat, through the stunning canal and river system surrounded by tropical rainforest and wildlife.

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