The Science Exchange Sea Turtle Internships

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About

The Science Exchange is a non-profit organization that offers customized, affordable internships for undergraduate and graduate students from around the world who are interested in interning in Latin America and the Caribbean. The Science Exchange operates in Mexico, Cuba, Honduras, Costa Rica, and Panama. Internships packages are extremely affordable and great way for college students to gain valuable experience working at sea turtle research centers and conducting field-work.

Highlights
  • Earn college credit while experiencing complete cultural immersion out in the field. No large groups and classrooms!
  • We offer partial scholarships to all interns.
  • The Science Exchange creates customized packages that fit your career and academic goals, schedule, and language abilities.
  • Learn a foreign language the only way - by living with the locals.
  • Two-thirds of our interns publish or present their research. 30% of our graduated interns go on to secondary education programs. Many have landed jobs with sea turtle or other conservation groups!

Related Programs

Questions & Answers

Reviews

90%
based on 26 reviews
  • Growth 9
  • Support 8.7
  • Fun 8.4
  • Housing 8.8
  • Safety 8.8
Showing 16 - 26 of 26
Default avatar
brett
10/10

tortugas lindas!

This was my first field project as a biologist. I knew very little spanish at the time. I lived with a host family for 3 months and gathered a team to help me with the project from the friends I made there. I spent alot of time walking the beach at night watching turtle nesting behavior. Eating with my family and planting a garden in their property and helping them get some ecotourism to help pay some bills and deter turtle egg poaching. I ended up making a family for life there in Panama.

How can this program be improved?
save more turtles!
Response from The Science Exchange

You were well loved in your community!

Yes, I recommend
Default avatar
Jake
10/10

Researching and living in Campamento Mayto

I've been out of the country before. To Belize, countries around Europe, and Puerto Rico. When I first learned I was going to a turtle camp in the middle of Mexico, I was ecstatic. I knew it was going to be a culture shock, but never would I imagine the opportunity to not just change my life, but have a greater respect for these marine reptiles and the people in Mexico. The research I did was temperature profiles down the beautiful beach of Mayto to determine how the temperatures affected the embryos in the hatchery. All the volunteers were more welcoming than the next and it made it into the most comfortable and free living environment. I learned about turtle conservation, Mexican cooking, and a deeper appreciation of working with others to improve the camp.

How can this program be improved?
The only thing that I would recommend for the program to improve in Mayto is more ATV's. Unfortunately, when we would patrol for nest at night, there would be many poachers that would steal nest. If we had more ATV's, there would be less poached nest.
Response from The Science Exchange

Thank you for sharing about your life-changing experiences. Regarding changing the program, I too wish they could buy more ATVs. Part of this program is to support the camp financially so maybe next year we will see a new ATV at Mayto!

Yes, I recommend
Default avatar
Turtle
8/10

Above and beyond

I chose to intern with La Universidad Autonoma de Baja Californina Sur in La Paz, Mexico for 3 months. Catherine met me at the airport, brought me to my new home and introduced me to the people I was going to be working with...who soon became my friends. The internship allowed me to help post-graduate and PhD students with their field and laboratory work (algea and sea turtle studies), as well as write an article to be published in their local scientific journal. Due to unforseen circumstances (a hurricane and school registrar strike), I wasn't able to work during the entire duration. Instead I helped a local university with the care of their sea horses and traveled to Cabo San Lucas to volunteer collecting and releasing sea turtle hatchlings. When I wanted feedback from the supervising professor on my article, I needed to be very persistant to get him to look at it closely. However, I was able to get more than enough feedback from the students working in the laboratory. My only wish is that I had more direction on how to construct the article (exactly what they were looking for it to cover) and for some of the passion to be translated into the Spanish version, which is easier said than done. All in all, this was an amazing experience that I wouldn't trade for the world. I have made some lifelong friends, great networking connections, and have some stories that I still share to this day. When I told Catherine that I wanted to go to California to look for work and conduct an informational interview, she helped me find businesses to apply to, and went above and beyond the call of duty. This is an amazing program that I would recommend to everyone interested.

Response from The Science Exchange

Thank you for saying that I went above and beyond, but I was inspired by your dedication as well. Keep up the great attitude!

Yes, I recommend
Default avatar
Gponce
8/10

Great Experience

The Science Exchange internship changed my perspective of biology research and fell in love with the ecology field. The thesis we write upon return helped me understand what it really takes to make it in the science field and prepared me for classes back at SDSU.

Yes, I recommend
Default avatar
SDSUKim
9/10

A Learning experience of a lifetime

The best part of the internship is the finding an actual sea turtle and seeing how they nest. It is a rewarding feeling to find a nest because it gives us a chance to save their eggs and increase the turtles survival rates. Another great opportunity was the various events we took part in to spread sea turtle awareness and the importance of conservation to the local kids of the community in Costa Rica. Something bad that happened daily was the lack of available water to shower and more importantly, to drink. The plumbing and overall housing unit could have used some major repair because often time the electricity and water would be out for days.Of course these things are difficult to avoid in the rain forest.Nevertheless, the experience always left for great stories to be told, and the bottom line is that I was there for the turtles and their eggs. I learned so much both as a science student and as an individual. I also took in the entire culture and beauty of Costa Rica.

Response from The Science Exchange

You and your partner did great educational outreach, thank you!

Yes, I recommend
Default avatar
Marielle.Livesey
8/10

Science Exchange Review

Pros -

- One lump sum covers all costs of travel and lodging (minus food and entertainment)
- equipment was purchased for me so I had almost everything I needed when I got there
- Made great friends with other volunteers
- Katherine Comer Santos (KCS)was quick, helpful, and responds quickly to e-mails
- KCS was patient in teaching me how to use the equipment and carrying out my methods
- Centro Ecologico Akumal(CEA)staff was hospitalble and friendly.
- CEA trains their volunteers well and encourages volunteers to educate tourists about the local marine environment
- Support through writing thesis
- Encouragement to publish findings
- CEA rooms were spacious
- CEA allowed overnight visitors for minimal costs
- I learned more than I ever thought I would about sea turtles.

Cons
- I wish I was sent to a place where people spoke more English other than the tourists.
- I would have liked to get there earlier in the season to witness more nesting for a better sample size, but that was mostly a financial issue on my part
- Walking the terrain on the beach was very tough and I wish I was aware how difficult this was going to be as I asked ahead of time how difficult it would be knowing I was soon to be listed on the Double Lung Transplant List.

Response from The Science Exchange

We agree this camp is one of the best! You were a trooper despite your health issues and the data you collected will soon be submitted to a journal. I am glad you recommend us.

Yes, I recommend
Default avatar
mrosquillas
10/10

Great Experience

Interning with the science exchange was one of the most amazing experiences. Living on the beautiful beach of Akumal, Mexico with like-minded people, saving sea turtles was priceless. I arrived in Cancun not knowing what to expect but the experience surpassed my expectations. I spent every day on the beach, snorkeling, and swimming with young sea turtles. I spent the nights patrolling the beaches, watching the females lay their eggs, and marking the nests. Seeing the newly hatched sea turtles coming out of their nest was the highlight of my internship. After I returned to San Diego, my mentor guided and helped me analyze my data and write my paper for which I received an A. I highly recommend interning with the science exchange.

Response from The Science Exchange

We are so proud that you are continuing with your environmental career! Thank you for your recommendation.

Yes, I recommend
Default avatar
Julia
9/10

Turtles in an Isolated Paradise

My experience happened in Costa Rica on an isolated beach called Playa Caletas. The experience I had during the two months I was there was one that brought me knowledge about myself, my passions, nature, environmentalism, appreciation and peace. Living directly on the beach without electricity, running water, and proper roofs may not be an ideal living situation for everyone, but for me that is what made my experience. counting plastic, executing night patrols, and building the turtle hatchery consumed my days and were the activities that taught me about all things outside of myself. Free time enabled me to draw, think, walk and reflect on one of the world's most deserted beaches. I wouldn't have traded my experience for anything.

Response from The Science Exchange

It takes a special person to appreciate isolation and you are that person! Good luck with medical school! Anything you need, I am here for you.

Yes, I recommend
Default avatar
Dan
9/10

Baja or Bust!

What to expect, do, and scientific goals were all well understood, before departing the U.S. Once on sceen found several challenges to data collection, but support staff was very accomidating. Day to day was data analysis, and adjustments/preperation as well as down time (swimming, exploring) during day. Night was data collection. Overall experience was very good, had a lot of fun, while gaining vaulable experience for my career.

Yes, I recommend
Default avatar
bunnnyyy
10/10

Amazing Mexican Experience!

I interned in Akumal, Mexico, studying the climate change effects on sea turtle nests, and I couldn't have had a better summer. My adviser, Katherine, was so helpful, even from a different country, and the in country staff taught me so much about sea turtles. The ups and downs of patrolling the beaches at night to protect the turtles are very memorable for me. The endless nights of protecting nests and turtles really made me have an emotional connection to such a beautiful species of animals, that I will never forgot. I got the chance to make friends around the world and explore the local area around my studying and volunteer work. I visited ancient ruins and different areas of the Yucatan. Living in a different country is a great learning experience, and being able to study and make a difference while doing so was such a great idea. Thank you Science Exchange for adding incredible memories and knowledge to my life!

Response from The Science Exchange

You really immersed yourself in the local Mexican culture and your Spanish grew so much. I am so glad you have incredible memories!

Yes, I recommend
Default avatar
Beezle
10/10

The Peace Corps of Internships

I rated the facilities lower than 10 because you live like the locals in the small fishing villages...or you can live in an air-conditioned apartment in the city working in a lab. It depends on your taste. Either way, it will never be like a U.S. facility, and so expect the lights and water to go out at odd times.You just have to be ready with candles and tanks of water. Most of the time you are outside anyway, on the beach, doing your research or working with the turtles.

Response from The Science Exchange

Good advice! Thanks for your ratings.

Yes, I recommend

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About The Science Exchange

Sea Turtle Internships for College Credit!

The Science Exchange is the only non-profit organization that creates affordable, customized, field-based research internship packages for college and graduate students from around the world. Our Mission is...