Ocean Spirits: Sea Turtle Research and Conservation Project

Video and Photos

About Program

Ocean Spirits is a Sea Turtle Research and Conservation Project based in the Northern Parish of Grenada, West Indies,

Your experience as a Research Assistant volunteer will:

Provide hands-on field experience with the world’s largest sea turtle
Directly help the reduction of illegal egg poaching activities
Contribute to the preservation of Grenada’s turtles
Increase community participation

Duties will include:

Night patrols of the main leatherback nesting site
Flipper tagging of unmarked females
Data collection – carapace (shell) measurements, egg counts, nest relocation
Morning surveys (on foot) of adjacent beaches
Nest excavations
Maintenance and preparation of research equipment
Summer camp organisation and participation
Assisting with organised turtle watches for school/community groups
Catch and Release Hawksbill and Green turtle work
Camp maintenance and cleaning

Program Highlights
  • Great opportunity to get hands on field experience with the world largest sea Turtle.
  • Learn about sea turtles from qualified morine biologist and conservationist with over 10 years expreance
  • Dive some of the purest waters in the Caribbean, with the only sculptur park.
  • Day trip to the rain forest and water falls
  • Interaction with the local community

Program Reviews

8.44 Rating
based on 9 reviews
  • 9-10 rating 66.67%
  • 7-8 rating 22.22%
  • 5-6 rating 0%
  • 3-4 rating 11.11%
  • 1-2 rating 0%
  • Impact 8.1
  • Support 8.1
  • Fun 7.7
  • Value 8.6
  • Safety 9.1
Showing 1 - 8 of 9
Default avatar
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.
2 people found this review helpful.
Default avatar
Yes, I recommend this program

Once in a lifetime experience

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.
1 person found this review helpful.
Default avatar
Yes, I recommend this program

Fantastic way to spend a few weeks

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!
2 people found this review helpful.
Default avatar
Yes, I recommend this program

If you love turtles...

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!)
2 people found this review helpful.
Default avatar
Yes, I recommend this program

Turtley worthwhile

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 :)

1 person found this review helpful.
Default avatar
No, I don't recommend this program

Hit or Miss

I know the program definitely means well. However as far as your personal experience goes (because most are there for the overall experience not just conservation), it all depends on the staff, particularly the supervisors. I can tell from other sites that a lot of people felt welcome and bonded with staff however I personally did not feel that welcomed when I first arrived. They seemed to have little interest in getting to know the new volunteers which was very hard for a newcomer. When it came to night surveys, some supervisors were impatient which was very discouraging as a new volunteer. The majority of the local staff on the other hand were very welcoming and patient. There was a lot of unnecessary drama and politics involved with the conservation aspect as well. Another huge let down was the fact that depending on when you choose to go in the season, you may only actually see a couple of turtles during your entire stay. In addition, I found there were to many volunteers for the amount of work to be done. With regards these facts, I found the project information very misleading and felt a little scammed.
Overall this was a life experience more than a research experience with some of my best and worst memories. Your experience will depend on the staff, your fellow volunteers, and the time of season you chose to go.

2 people found this review helpful.
Response from Ocean Spirits

I am sorry to hear you did not completely enjoy your stay with Ocean Spirits. We regret you were not able to develop a relationship with some supervisors and as we advise from the initial briefing on arrival to the project we do ask if anyone has any issues that they raise them so they can be dealt with to ensure you have the most enjoyable stay.
However we do not expect everyone to get along but do expect people to be mature enough that they can have a working relationship within the team as we all have the same end focus and goals. Regarding feeling scammed about time of season it is very hard for us to predict nature but we do advise on the website depending on time of visiting what to expect.
We thank you for volunteering your time on the project and for your feedback and sorry you felt unable to raise issues whilst actually with us.

Wishing you all the best in the future,

Kind Regards Ocean Spirits Staffing Team

Default avatar
Yes, I recommend this program

Sun sea and turtles

I spent a month on Grenada in the summer of 2011, 3 weeks of that was with Ocean Spirits. One of the most amazing experiences I have had. Although we were there to work as a volunteer, there was loads of free time to enjoy the island. Sunrise over the neighbouring islands madegetting for morning survey worthwhile and you got to enjoy a dip in the ocean before coming back to base for breakfast. we all took turns of chores such as cleaning or shopping or cooking.- cooking duty was interesting. Being older than some of the other volunteers, cooking for everyone didn't bother me but it did scare some of the youngers - it didn't matter though - we all just mucked in and helped - don't remember having an inedible meal.

Getting up close and personal with turtles on the beach was unbelieveable. You don't realise how huge these creatures are until you are sat next to one of the beach. The real upside for me was tagging a new nesting female and naming her after watching and assisting in her nesting routine. The downside on the beach were the nights when it rained - horizontally - so glad I brought waterproofs. The downside away from the beach was the mozies - they really liked me unfortunately.

Overall amazing experience and one I would recommend for anyone no matter what age you are, the staff and locals are welcoming and the volunteers support one and other. You are doing good work for a beautiful endangered creature and enjoying the delights of Grenada.

What would you improve about this program?
Not sure I would change much about the program to be honest. I know no program is perfect. If I was to critise anything I would say that there isn't enough support locally for the project. I would like to see the profile of the project raised so that more people are aware of its work and are motivated to raise money for it - don't mean just in Grenada but worldwide.
2 people found this review helpful.
Default avatar
Yes, I recommend this program

my time as a volunteer

I really had a great time on the project, I stayed for 6 weeks and really felt like I was part of the team and my time was well spent. Night surveys are long but so worth it when you get to see a nesting leatherback or hatchlings coming up out of the sand. In addition to all the rota work the staff organised lots of fun trips to waterfalls, hikes through rainforests, boat trips to smaller islands, BBQ and my favourite a snorkelling trip where I saw a huge ray and so many fish.

What would you improve about this program?
If i could change something it would be to have less down time as I felt I could of done more without being too tired.
1 person found this review helpful.

Questions & Answers

Hi Julia, As the project manager I can assure you that volunteer safety is our priority. Day 1 is packed full of safety information and training before beginning in the field. Despite there not being many volunteers at the start of the season. We will not know number of volunteers at the start of the season until nearer the time, but is a mix of staff living on the project, who always eager for...