Leatherback Turtle Conservation Projects in Costa Rica

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About

Join SEE Turtles for a volunteer vacation in Costa Rica!

Spend your vacation working to protect critically endangered giant leatherback sea turtles along Costa Rica’s Caribbean coast. You will work directly with local researchers at Estacion Las Tortugas, a turtle conservation program that has been patrolling their beach for a decade. On this volunteer vacation in Costa Rica, you will have a trained personal guide and private transportation to and from the sea turtle research station.

You will participate in nightly beach patrols on the turtle nesting beaches, helping researchers to move the eggs to a safe location (to avoid being dug up for sale by poachers or be eaten by animals) and collecting vital information on the turtles. Leatherbacks can average more than 6 feet in length and can weigh more than 1,000 lbs. During the day, you will take boat rides along the nearby canals to look for wildlife, visit the station’s turtle educational center and hike the rainforest.

Highlights
  • Work with giant leatherback sea turtles
  • Help release turtle hatchlings (in season)
  • Visit a beautiful butterfly farm
  • Explore the rainforest

Questions & Answers

Reviews

87%
based on 3 reviews
  • Impact 8.3
  • Support 8.7
  • Fun 10
  • Value 6.7
  • Safety 8.3
Showing 1 - 3 of 3
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bcptatpc
9/10

A great experience and a true taste of Costa Rica

I took part in the program in 2010 and it was just great: a close look at the turtles lives and behavior, a truthful bite of the deepest Costa Rica, the feeling of doing something valuable and getting fun at the same time.
The food was excellent, the staff and co-workers were helpful and kind and the local people were just great (in particular the family that hosted me and my friend).
The only negative note is that time was not perfectly exploited and the activity schedule could have been improved.

Yes, I recommend
Default avatar
Darlene
8/10

Sea Turtle Conservation Project in Costa Rica

I stayed in a small host family cabin on the edge of the rainforest and felt most welcome and safe. Bedding and mosquito netting was provided, along with a 1940's washing machine for doing my own laundry. The window to my room overlooked the forest and its many creatures. I saw monkeys, iguanas, chickens and a host of beautiful birds from my room. The window was either open (and letting in all the bugs) or closed (with it's wooden door blocking out all light). A small light bulb and a floor fan were my precious amenities, although I did have some stacked crates for my "closet". The basic food was served family style. It was delicious, healthy and plentiful...served with pride. There was a community bathroom with a solar, sort-of-heated shower, plus outdoor showers for cleaning up after beach duties.

Training sessions were few and often lacked complete information, so that sometimes there was confusion as to proper procedure. There were valuable hands-on activities such as digging nests so that we would be prepared for transferring egg clutches into hatchery nests. The daily work schedule could include beach clean up, hatchery duty, helping gather nest data and looking for trapped hatchlings, and night beach patrols. The more duties I volunteered for, the more I learned, and it often brought great rewards...like the afternoon that I found 7 hatchlings wandering near the woods, with no known nests in that area. We took data on them and set them on the beach, cheering as they made for the sea. Finding a huge leatherback brought tears to one's eyes. They were so primitive and beautiful, and measuring them or collecting eggs was one of the most exciting things I have ever experienced!

Free time offered opportunities to lounge or play volleyball on the beach, rest in a hammock, play pool or watch TV in the local open-air pub, or taking a taxi into town on our "free" days. The local store was a small thatched hut with very limited supplies, but did offer cold drinks. A public telephone on a power pole in the middle of nowhere was available if one could shoo some tethered horses away and wait for the daily downpour to stop. I was disappointed that the water was too treacherous for swimming, as the days were so very hot and sticky. It certainly wasn't a place for those afraid of hard work, bugs or lizards! Nights were a wonder of stars and fire flies blinking in the blackness, with the waves crashing on the beach and always the hope of seeing a magnificent turtle lumbering onto shore.

Our community of volunteers hailed from 7 different countries, but we were united in our awe with and determination to help the turtles. It felt fantastic to know that we were making a difference in promoting their preservation. I will always be proud of my contribution to the turtles.

Overall, the experience felt like boot camp...a test of strength and endurance, will and commitment. I came away with bitten up legs and a broken toe, but knowing myself better and feeling pride in the accomplishments that we all achieved together for the turtles. Two years later it still brings tears of joy to my eyes, and I'd go back in a heartbeat.

Yes, I recommend
Default avatar
kirsaskov
9/10

Leatherbacks in Costa Rica

The Leatherback conservation project in Costa Rica is very interesting. It was a very nice experience to see a big leatherback turtle hatching in the night at the beach. We also saw the hatchery and a lot of small baby turtles and learned why the conservation project is so important!

Yes, I recommend

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About SEE Turtles

SEE Turtles offers trips to participate in sea conservation projects in Latin America and the Caribbean. Projects are focused on protecting sea turtles and inspiring travelers to take an active role in the preservation of their natural habitat....