Volunteering Abroad Shouldn't Cost the Earth

Research Assistants for Sea Turtle Nesting Conservation Program Costa Rica



We operate a multifaceted approach for the conservation of endangered marine species at several beaches Southern Nicoya Peninsula, Costa Rica. In our sea turtle nesting program, which opens annually during the Olive Ridley nesting season (June – January), we conduct beach monitoring (night patrols and morning censuses), nest relocations into project hatcheries, environmental education activities, and help on the environmental awareness with the local and international community, that also helps on generating job opportunities for the locals and promoting sustainable tourism development. Olive Ridleys (Lepidochelys olivacea) is the most frequent and main species that nest on these beaches, but there is also sporadic nesting of Green (Chelonia mydas), Leatherback (Dermochelys coriacea), and Hawksbill (Eretmochelys imbricata) sea turtles. Egg poaching is a major threat to the nesting sea turtles on these beaches. Secondary threats include nest predation, plastic pollution, beach development and erosion, and tourist traffic. On the beaches, CREMA directs all our efforts to prevent and ultimately decrease these threats.

Job duties:

Research Assistants are trained to conduct and lead nightly 3–4-hour beach patrols, in which they take biometric data from nesting sea turtles, tag their front flippers, and move their nests to a protected area if there is one available.  Other responsibilities vary among the projects, and include the following: 

Although there is an important research aspect integrated in the position; most of these projects are financed via a volunteer program held by Turtle Trax S.A. It is essential that both coordinators and research assistants make a conscious effort to make the volunteers feel included and part of the research team as well as provide them with a positive experience during their stay.


Centro de Rescate de Especies Marinas Amenazadas (CREMA)

Guanacaste (Pacifico)

Advanced university student or recent graduate in biological sciences or related fields. Minimum age: 20 years. Able to communicate in English and Spanish (conversational) – not excluding. Able to adapt to unexpected situations and unfamiliar cultures. Applicants must be available to work full dates (any term described above). Applicants must be reliable, responsible, self-starters, and have a drive for working in a team. Must have strong interpersonal, communication, decision making, logistical and organizational skills. Must feel comfortable working in the outdoors and/or isolated settings, be in a good physical condition (be able to lift 45Kg [100 pounds], walk on soft sand, etc) and able to undertake physical labour activities during night and day in extreme weather conditions while maintaining energy and stamina. Applicants must be able to accept and give feedback and maintain a motivated and positive environment. Reports to: CREMA’s Sea Turtle Nesting Supervisors (Field and Research) and Project Coordinators.

Dates of program:
San Miguel Term 1: June 26th to September 9th, 2023. Term 2: August 9th to October 10th, 2023. Term 3: October 1st to December 15th, 2023. Costa de Oro Term 1: July 14th to September 27th, 2023. Term 2: August 24th to November 7th, 2023. Term 3: October 1st to December 15th, 2023. Corozalito and Bejuco:* Term 1 (only Corozalito): June 26th to September 9th, 2023. Term 2 (CZ and BE*): September 6th to November 20th, 2023. Term 3 (CZ and BE*): November 17th, 2023 to January 31st, 2024. *Program dates might change by the starting date of the season

Duration of program:
Approximately 3 months per period

Project start date:
20th June 2023

Project end date:
31st January 2024

Application deadline:
10th April 2023

Age requirement:
Adults of both sexes 20+

Research assistants are expected to stay at the project site for the entire term for which they are selected. RAs pay an US$1200-1800 fee that covers three basic meals and accommodation for the entire internship. Turtle Trax and CREMA provide a training workshop upon arrival. This includes several lectures on current sea turtle conservation research topics, safety training, team building activities, and field research training. All RAs have the option of participating in the Independent Research Project Program, in which they can complete a project with their team during the internship with the assistance of one of CREMA’s biologists. All interns must follow the Turtle Trax/CREMA Program Rules for the entire duration of their placement. Failure to do so results in immediate termination of placement without refund.

Other information:
There are four project sites within this area where Research Assistants can choose to participate during their internship. San Miguel and Costa de Oro: these two beaches host several hundred nesting olive ridley sea turtles per season, with occasional nesting of green, hawksbill, and leatherback turtles. These project sites have a variable number of volunteers and visitors. San Miguel and Costa de Oro participants must be sociable and be willing to work with a constantly changing team. Bejuco: this project site is operated under close collaboration with the small-scale sustainable fishing community of Bejuco, as it represents a sustainable source of income for its members. It is physically demanding due to the characteristics of the beach (steep, soft sand, length) and the challenges of monitoring its sea turtle hatchery. It is the most rustic and basic project of the four. Corozalito: this beach hosts several thousand nesting olive ridley sea turtles per season and occasional nesting of green, hawksbill, and leatherback turtles. It is the most physically demanding project mostly due to the characteristics of its nesting activity.


There are no reviews to display

Apply now

Members only content - Register or Login

Web links / Other ways to help

If you visit and apply via the website please mention that you saw this project on volunteerlatinamerica.com.