Alumni Spotlight: Daniel Halder

Daniel is from Zurich, Switzerland. He is holding a master degree in environment sciences of ETH Zurich. After his experience on the turtle project in Costa Rica he has changed his life: He has transformed into an entrepreneur after having worked as an Executive in the financial service industry for many years. He is 42 years old.

Why did you decide to enroll with Oyster Worldwide in Costa Rica?

Daniel: I have googled different projects on the internet and I have contacted several agencies by e-mail regarding turtle volunteer projects. The lady from Oyster has called me back within an hour to explain me the project. She was very committed, competent and inspiring. During the call I have taken the decision to joint the project in Costa Rica on the beach of San Miguel.

Describe your day to day activities as a volunteer.

Daniel: The main activities were patrolling the beach during the night. The objective of the patrols were to get the turtle eggs before the poachers got them. The beach was not under natural conservation, therefore collecting turtles eggs by poachers did occur all the time.

The beach

During the patrols we collected the eggs, after having identified the nests. We have counted the eggs and brought them to the hatchery, where we have dug holes to put the eggs back in the sand.

Whenever baby turtles came out of the sand holes in the hatchery, we brought them to the place, where they were collected weeks ago.

During the night we have worked in shifts: 3 hours work, 3 hours sleep, 3 hours work... So the main work was during the night. During the day we had to do some cleaning and preparation work to prepare ourselves for the night shifts. During the night we have been walking between 4 und 8 kilometers during 4 to 6 hours. It was raining quite often, because rain season is turtle season.

Do you feel like you made a significant impact on the local community?

Daniel: The local community was very supportive to us as volunteers. Probably there are three reasons for that: two of the volunteers were local people, who have worked in the nights with us. Secondly, the organization Pretoma is well established in Costa Rica and the project is up and running since over ten years.

Having breakfast

Tell me about one person you met.

Daniel: I will not pick a single person to describe. I have met different volunteers with different backgrounds, different ages and different mind sets. But all of them were thrilled to dedicate time to save a least a couple of hundred baby turtles.

Everybody was committed to the turtle work and personal preferences came after the job has been done. As always, the people make the difference, and they did.

On the beach of San Miguel, were life is very simple, it does not matter, which background you have. Labels do not matter and money does not matter, because you can not buy anything.

What was the best moment of the entire trip?

Daniel: The best moment was definitely to see the baby turtles making their way into the pacific ocean combined with the knowledge, that one out of hundred might come back fifteen years later.

And secondly, the beauty of the nature, the silence and the sea allow reflection. It was absolutely amazing to not read messages and e-mails all the time.