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Ocean Spirits

About

Ocean Spirits is a registered, non-profit marine conservation organisation based in Grenada. From its inception in 1999, Ocean Spirits have focused primarily on the conservation of marine turtles found throughout Grenada's coastal waters and beaches. As a member and the Country Co-ordinator of the Wider Caribbean Sea Turtle Network (WIDECAST) for Grenada, we work at a national and regional level, with support and expert advice which ensures we are continually striving to meet universal, conservational objectives and make valid contributions to the international scientific community

Founded
1999
Headquarters

Go Overseas
Berkeley, CA 94709
United States

Reviews

Default avatar
Ken
10/10
Yes, I recommend this program

I have volunteered with mulitple sea turtle research and protection projects in the past five years, working in various Caribbean and Central American countries. Ocean Spirits was difinitely once of the best programs that I have volunteered with.

Living, working, dining and playing with the staff and other volunteers, we quickly became friends and a well organized team. The volunteers are an important part of this team, and that importance was made known to me and was easily felt by me.

The Leatherbacks turtles, admittedly are my favorite. Their huge size and prehistoric appearance is truly something to behold. I felt honored and blessed to just be in the presence of these incredible creatures. Plus to know that I was able to be of some help in the process of saving these endangered turtles for future generations, is a wonderful feeling that continues to stay with me.

The accommodations were very comfortable and the view of the sea and outer islands from the dining area is spectacular. The best part by far is being on the beach at night with the Leatherback turtles. I felt honored to be able to work with these endangered creatures and witness the nesting process. Words cannot describe the immense good feelings I had while mid-wifing a hundred turtle eggs from a 1000 + pound mother. It's life changing !

The Island of Grenada is beautiful and the people are quite friendly. The staff at Ocean Spirits are dedicated, welcoming and very helpful.

My hope is to return to Grenada and Ocean Spirits, either this year of next.

My hope is to go back to Grenada and Ocean Spirits within the next year, or as soon as my work schedule allows. Since you have read this review, then you already have some interest in this type of project. Sign up and go, you'll have a great time in a beautiful setting, and will feel good about your new connection with nature.

What would you improve about this program?
I enjoyed my whole experience, the people and the work especially. We shared our meals family style. I would have liked to have had more fresh fruit with the meals or to be available for snacking.
Default avatar
Debbie
10/10
Yes, I recommend this program

If you love nature, you want to get in touch with people all over the world and you want to make a difference - you will definitly find in Grenada what you are looking for ! The Ocean Spirit team welcomes warmly volunteers ready to experience one to one environment protection. You will learn and discover about local community, environmental conditions and real constraints.

While you sleep on the beach during the nights in order to be ready when a turtle comes up to perform one of nature magic incidents you realize that this is the right place to be. And I can tell that you feel very small next to a Leatherback turtle ;) In the morning you aftre spending the night on the beach, you can help digging out old turtle nests for analysis. During the day you are free to explore the neighborhood, get in touch with local people or just relax in the beauty of Grenada island. As Ocean Spirit also tries to include young local people, you will have the task to inform them about the environment and humain impact.

One thing I also enjoyed was having diner together in the evening. Some of the participants will get prepared to spend the night at the beach the other stay at home and organise the next day. Those diners always were a place to share experiences and stories with people you will live with for a couple of weeks.

Finally, I would like to point out that Ocean Spirit turtle and environment project is a safe and well organised project which is more then worth the contribution you have to pay in money - as you will go home with an unforgettable priceless experience.

What would you improve about this program?
It is important to get informed about what you are looking for and what the organisation can offer. Thats why you should ask about what's the best season to go to Grenada to experience the turtles and your interests. The aim is not only to see cute hatchlings during your stay - but neither to be disappointed when you can not see one.
Default avatar
Irini
9/10
Yes, I recommend this program

As a 17 year old travelling alone to the Caribbean, I was so grateful to the wonderful staff for going the extra mile to not only be very social and welcoming but to also ensure that the trip was the safest that it could be.
I really enjoyed spending time with the other volunteers who'd come from all over the globe and found the evening meals all together a lovely way to get to know each other better.

My favourite parts of the experience were nest excavation and night survey; i found it very interesting being able to compare the positioning of nests with their success rate while on nest excavation, while the night survey allowed me to get up-close-and-personal with the turtles.

I really overlooked till I returned to the UK the good that the time away did in terms of my fitness- the long walks on the beach were really good, gentle exercise.

I also appreciated how flexible the staff were, espcecially as I was only able to stay for 2/3 weeks. While there they were happy whenever possible to alter plans and switch shifts if anyone wanted to make any specific plans.

Overall I genuinely found the project to be one of the best experiences of my life and would recommend it to anyone and everyone.

What would you improve about this program?
Ideally I would have liked to have been kept a little more busy during some of the day times, though that's probably just because i'm a very restless person!
Default avatar
Pip
8/10
Yes, I recommend this program

If you love turtles this project if fab! The very nature of working alongside them is priceless. During the weeks I was a volunteer (summer 2011) I only saw 4 nesting turtles but I also go to see hatchlings making their adventure to the sea, definitely a highlight.
The night patrols are hard work, but it all depends on the attitude you take towards it. This is also true for the house work that needs to be done. There is still a very reasonable amount of free time to do plenty of exploring/relaxing.

What would you improve about this program?
Personally I would have like to have been a bit more involved in the data handling aspect of things - this is mainly due to my interests (I'm just nosey really!)
Default avatar
Gemma
8/10
Yes, I recommend this program

Ocean Spirits is a very organised conservation project. If you choose to take part in this programme you will definitely be making a positive difference to the population of the endangered species the leatherback turtle.

Whilst you are there working on the project you are actively involved gathering information and vital statistics of the nesting leatherback turtles and (if you're lucky) the hatchlings. Then afterwards the supervisors keep you updated on the data collected by all the staff and volunteers involved that season and the following seasons to come. It is rewarding to see the results of your hard work.

The work is fantastic. It is an amazing experience to get up close to these wonderful creatures. You will measure them, count their eggs and sometimes if it is a new turtle you can assist in tagging and naming her. You each have a bag with all the equipment you need for the surveys, you pack these yourself every time you go out and are responsible for cleaning and putting the stuff away when you return the next morning. It's worth mentioning this as small details like this are what goes to make the project run smoothly. I have done charity work which is less organised and it can make it difficult to get the job done.

Just to warn you the night patrols can be quite tough. Keeping awake once you've sat down to rest can sometimes be a challenge but probably the most difficult part is the relentless mosquitoes and earlier on in the evening the 'blister bugs'. However the turtles make it all worthwhile. I will always remember one night where I got to sit on a moonlit beach and watch one of the turtles return to the sea, the best part was when she crawled past so close I began to think she was going to crawl right over me! I'm sure she was curiously checking us out, my heart was pounding and I felt so elated.

The early morning nest surveys are very early but the motivation to get up and rake over the turtle tracks to protect the nests from poaching makes you jump out of bed and get down to the beach. Plus it always felt so good to be on the beach that early.

The accommodation is comfortable. Everyone helps to cook and keep the house clean, this is part of the rota. Dinners are taken all together as a group which I liked and I never tired of the view from the balcony where we would eat and relax.

In your down time there are lots of places to explore, like the waterfalls and the chocolate factory. The organised trip to Sugar Loaf island was great, the supervisors really looked after us and cooked for us on the beach, including fresh fish straight from the sea.

With regards to a previous comment, yes your experience can depend on what people and supervisors you work with. Unfortunately not everyone is guaranteed to get on with everyone else but that can happen everywhere in life and you just need to concentrate on the people you do get on with. Overall I would say the atmosphere is generally a good one and we are all there for the same reason, the turtles, so immediately you all have something in common. I look back on my experience with Ocean Spirits with fondness. Overall I had a great time :)

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Alumni Interviews

These are in-depth Q&A sessions with verified alumni.

Irini Kounoupias

Irini Kounoupias is an 18 year old student from London, England, currently studying for her A Levels at Putney High School. She is hoping to go to medical school in September but in her spare time enjoys music, exercise and exploring new cultures.

Describe your typical morning as a volunteer with Ocean Spirits in Grenada.

Hawksbill Turtle

Irini: The setup of each morning differed day to day as there was a weekly rota which ensured that work was evenly distributed and that everyone got the opportunity to get involved with all aspects of the project. Some mornings consisted of a Morning Survey where a couple of volunteers would wake up in the early hours and walk down to the beach to rake over turtle tracks in order to stop poachers from digging up the eggs. If I wasn't doing morning survey, the morning was spent either relaxing or sleeping if I had been on night duty. Volunteers were also free to go to the beach or into town.

Describe your typical afternoon as a volunteer.

Irini: The main afternoon activity was nest excavation where we would be given the coordinates of a nest and had to locate it then dig it up. This was important as we could then look at the success rate of the nest, i.e. how many eggs hatched, at what stage in development the unhatched eggs stopped developing, and the reasons behind this. If we were not on nest excavation then there were often chores to be done like cleaning or doing the shopping. Some weeks the program ran an environmental awareness summer camp for the local children, so a few afternoons were spent teaching the children and playing games.

What about a typical evening as a volunteer?

Carnage Grenada

Irini: Evenings would begin with a meal all together, which was a great opportunity to get to know the other volunteers. If I was on night duty then I would go down to the beach with a group of volunteers and supervisors for night survey. We would take turns patrolling the beach with a supervisor, and if a turtle was spotted then we would have to wait for it to dig its nest, then one volunteer would catch and count the number of eggs laid while another volunteer documented details like the size of the turtle, the coordinates of the nest, the depth of the nest. We would then check to see if the turtle was tagged. If I was not on night duty then I was free to relax; this included baking, going to the local bar or watching a film with the other volunteers.

What was the highlight of your trip?

Irini: My fondest memory of the trip from a social perspective was the night when the supervisors decided to cancel night survey so that we could all go out to a restaurant to celebrate one of the volunteer's birthdays. This night was special for me as it reinforced how close everyone had become and gave us a good opportunity to sample local food and see the beautiful island at night.