Sea Turtle Nesting Internship

The Leatherback Trust
December 28, 2018
Gulf of Papagayo, Costa Rica
Job Type
Closing date


Sea Turtles of the Gulf of Papagayo


The Sea Turtles of the Gulf of Papagayo is a science-based conservation project run by The Leatherback Trust.

We have been studying sea turtles in the Gulf for eight years and our main goal is to protect nesting turtles and their nests from natural and anthropogenic impacts, such as tidal inundation, unnatural predation, egg poaching and climate change. On top of studying sea turtles, we run a side project to assess the biodiversity of the area. During the project’s first few years of life, we have successfully reduced egg poaching, increased hatchling production and identified many unique species in the nearby and highly diverse marine and terrestrial ecosystems.

Within the Gulf, we conduct most of our work at playa Cabuyal. Four species of sea turtles nest here: leatherback turtles, green turtles, olive ridleys and hawksbill turtles. The green turtle is the most abundant, but Cabuyal is also an important nesting site for critically endangered eastern Pacific leatherback turtles. The waters of the Gulf also serve as important internesting habitats and/or foraging grounds for all four species, and it is frequent to see whales, dolphins and many rays from the beach.


Volunteering and internships

We are looking for enthusiastic volunteers and/or interns that are willing to work as part of a team and have a genuine interest for nature and field work. Our base station is located at Playa Cabuyal, at approximately 1 hour from the Liberia International airport and about 6 hours from the San Jose International airport. We stay in a basic house that is ~1.5 km from the beach. The house has four rooms, two bathrooms and one outside kitchen. We can accommodate 10-12 people at the time. There is not internet at the camp site and there is limited electricity and phone coverage. It is important that project participants can live under these conditions and enjoy them.

Most of the work take place at night and involve patrolling the beach (1.5 km long) and helping out collecting data on the nesting turtles. Daylight activities include taking temperatures, helping with nest excavations and assisting with cooking or cleaning since we prepare meals ourselves.

Main duties are:

* Night patrols: These are ~4-6 hours shifts depending on the activity. During night patrols we identify, mark and measure nesting turtles, record nesting activities, count eggs and mark and protect the nests.

* Morning walks: (~2 hours) during morning walks we count tracks, verify nesting activity from the previous night and mark nests when needed.

* Other beach daylight activities: usually take place in the afternoon and include triangulation of nests, nest excavations, taking temperatures and giving information to tourists if these are present.

* Assisting with cooking and camp cleaning.


Volunteers can arrive any day of the week and stay for a minimum of two weeks. Interns are expected to stay for at least one month. At this time of the season, it is possible to arrive during the following months:

* January, 2019

* February, 2019

* March, 2019

After that, we will start recruiting again in September 2019.



The cost to participate in the project is $16 per day to cover for (three meals per day) and lodging. Participants must have their own health insurance and cover their own expenses to travel to and from the site.

For More Information please visit The Leatherback Trust website or contact Bibi Santidrian Tomillo by email -


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