Sea Turtle Nesting Internship

The Leatherback Trust
May 20, 2019
Cabuyal Beach, Costa Rica
Closing date


Each year, many dedicated volunteers join our researchers at Cabuyal beach, Costa Rica to assist with the monitoring and protection of endangered sea turtles. Cabuyal, a beautiful secluded beach close to Liberia, is home to three species of sea turtles (greens, leatherbacks and olive ridleys). It is situated south to Santa Rosa National Park, and is surrounded by tropical dry forest and mangroves. The Leatherback Trust started a long-term sea turtle monitoring and protection program here in 2011 under the supervision of our Science Director, Dr. Pilar Santidrián Tomillo.

Volunteers working at Cabuyal conduct nightly patrols in search of nesting turtles. They assist with data collection and measuring nesting turtles. When turtles nest below the high-tide line, volunteers help relocating eggs from nests at risk of inundation to a safer location on the beach. Other responsibilities include monitoring of nests, excavating hatched nests, and recording temperature data from incubating nests. There is also the potential for volunteers to assist with other ongoing scientific research projects.

Conditions: Volunteers must be in good physical shape and comfortable with working long hours at night. Night patrols generally last between 4 and 8 hours, over which time volunteers may walk distances exceeding 10 km. Volunteers must also be prepared to work in tropical conditions, with extreme heat, humidity and mosquitoes. We provide dorm-style accommodation (bunk beds) at our field station, located at a relatively isolated location approximately 20 minutes’ walk away from the beach. The station has basic but adequate cooking and sanitary facilities: there is no electricity or internet, but we have running potable water, and a functional kitchen equipped with gas stoves and iceboxes. There is also a small solar panel that allows charging of small devices.

Duration: The project runs from September 15th, 2019, until March 30th, 2020. Volunteers can join the project at any time during this period.

Participation fees: Volunteers pay a daily fee of $17.00 (note: $8 for Costa Rican residents) for the duration of their participation. The fee goes towards covering food costs, logistics, research permits and administration costs, and cannot be waived under any circumstances.

Requirements: Volunteers should be at least 18 years of age and must carry a personal health insurance policy for the duration of their stay with the project. Minimum participation duration is 7 days, but it is highly recommended that volunteers stay with the project for a longer term, e.g. at least two or three weeks. Applicants must be able to work under demanding conditions, work as part of a group and have strong inter-personal skills related to sharing in a communal life and living in close proximity with their team mates.

Application Details: For more information or to apply to be a volunteer for us at Cabuyal, please contact Dr. Santidrián Tomillo at Volunteer positions are filled on a first come first served basis, however there is a preference for those wishing to stay for longer periods of time. Please note that there is a greater need for volunteers at the start (September-November) and end (February-March) of the Project.

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