Volunteering Abroad Shouldn't Cost the Earth

Sea Turtle Research and Conservation in Ecuador Ecuador



We are a legally incorporated not-for-profit NGO founded and working in Ecuador. We started in 2004 when a group of local dive instructors decided to do something to stop the degradation of our coral reefs. Since then we have been working in research and conservation of several marine and terrestrial species and ecosystems in several areas of our country, while also helping to train students, researchers and local community members to protect our mega diverse ecosystems.

Our Sea Turtle Project was established in 2007 and has become the longest term project in continental Ecuador. We work with 4 species: green, olive Ridley, hawksbill and leatherback sea turtles, both in nesting beaches and in the water in their foraging grounds. We have been able to increase the knowledge and protect sea turtles all along our coast. We have also been able to register hundreds of individual sea turtles and protect more than 50.000 baby sea turtles (most of them critically endangered hawksbill sea turtles) so they can reach the ocean. We work under the guidelines of the Ministry of Environment and in coordination with the Machalilla National Park and other organizations to be as effective as possible. Volunteers are one of the pillars of our project, helping us to reach more beaches and protect more nests every year. Volunteers get to experience real research and conservation (not just tourism) that is really helping to save endangered species and make a positive difference for nature while enjoying one of the most beautiful areas of our country. Work in our project is hard, you will be tired and you will get dirty, but you will also enjoy the most beautiful beaches in a unique ecosystem and make lifelong friendships while making the world a better place. You will also help and work in other projects (shark research, beach clean-ups, dry forest research, coral reef studies environmental education, etc.) depending on the seasons and the need of help of those projects. You will also help with office or lab work and lot's of other activities.

You will stay in dorm style rooms with bunk beds at our Research Station that is simple but very comfortable, where you will share work and daily life with our staff, other researchers and volunteers from all over the world. Wireless internet is included. Food is not included but kitchen facilities, utensils and fridge space will be available for your use with fruit markets and supermarkets available close by. There are all sorts of restaurants and tourist attractions in town. Please visit our web page and follow our social media channels: @equilibrioazul (Instagram and Twitter) or equilibrio.azul (Facebook) to see some of our work and updates.


Equilibrio Azul

Puerto López

No previous experience or studies are necessary, only a good attitude, eagerness to learn and to be a team player. Decent level of physical fitness. Basic knowledge of Spanish recommended. Good level of swimming needed to participate in in-water activities.

Dates of program:
Year round

Duration of program:
4 weeks minimum. Multiple months available and welcome.

Age requirement:
Adults of both sexes 18+. We also accept families with younger children.

We ask for a contribution of US$550 per month. This includes: supervision, orientation and training from project coordinators, working materials and equipment. Accommodation in our Puerto López Research Station with access to a fully equipped kitchen, drinking water, electricity and wireless internet access. Local transport and project related expenses. Participation certification.

Other information:
Volunteers need to have a current accident/travel insurance when arriving. For everybody's safety, we currently ask for a complete Covid-19 vaccine certificate also.


If you like sea turtles, this is the organization for you
"I volunteered with Equilibro Azul in April - May, 2022 and it was the best experience to end my time in Ecuador. Our supervisors Felipe and Cristina were so kind, friendly, easy going, knowledgable, and passionate about the conservation work they do. They are also fluent in English which was very helpful for me as someone with poor Spanish speaking skills. Their dog Yurak is so fun and adorable! During my time there, I assisted with morning/night beach patrols for sea turtle nests, sea turtle egg excavations, monitoring for shark captures at the local fish market, excursions to Isla de la Plata to help the Machallila National Park, and snorkeling for sea turtle captures. It was an incredible experience to witness so many sea turtle hatchlings in such a short amount of time. Their peak season for hawksbill nests is around Feb - April. Since I volunteered after that period, I had plenty of free time to relax and go to the beach when we weren't volunteering. The schedule was typically 8 am - 12 pm Monday - Saturday (usually longer if snorkeling or doing night patrols). The house we lived in was so nice and pretty. There is a small shared kitchen to cook meals in and a large common area patio. The bathrooms and bedrooms were comfy and are shared amongst the volunteers. Puerto Lopez is a very small local town, so the experience there is quite different from the more touristy cities like Quito and Guayaquil. If you volunteer here, prepare for lots of sunscreen and long walks on the beaches during patrols. Equilibrio Azul does a lot for marine conservation efforts and their desire to reduce harmful human impacts (particularly plastic waste) on the oceans is exceptionally admirable."- Catherine Nguyen
An incredible experience
"Volunteering for this conservation group was absolutely incredible! The people you work with are all amazing, kind, knowledgable, and passionate about conservation. There are many projects going on through this organization (sea turtles, marine seabirds, sharks and rays, etc.) and you can really tell how invested they are in marine conservation and protecting the environment around them. It is an exceptional experience to learn through hands on activities whether patrolling beaches for turtles, captures in the water, or monitoring the fish market. I would highly recommend volunteering here, especially for biology/ecology students interested in a career in marine conservation!"- Gaby Shay
10/10 would recommend!
"I would 100% recommend a volunteer experience with Equilibrio Azul with no reservations. I volunteered with them during April and May of 2022. It has been one of the best experiences of my life. I did hands-on conservation work and learned about threats and solutions that marine life is facing. The work is engaging and peaceful. I got to explore the numerous beaches of the Puerto Lopez area, including Machalilla National Park, and I even got the chance to work on the stunning Isla de la Plata! I had the opportunity to do sea turtle captures in the water, patrol beaches looking for turtle activity, monitor shark catches in the Puerto Lopez fish market, and help baby sea turtles reach the water safely! This experience is perfect for nature enthusiasts, conservationists, and for anyone who wants to make a positive difference protecting our oceans. Cristina and Felipe, the supervising team, are supportive, organized, efficient, always ready to help you or answer your questions, understanding of people’s capabilities, and so so fun to work with! I would rate my volunteer experience with Equilibrio Azul a 10/10!"- Maddy Kobs
Amazing, one-in-a-lifetime experience
"I spent 4 weeks with Equilibrio azul in April/May 2022. My experience was absolutely amazing. Cristina and Felipe were amazing mentors and taught us so much about sea turtles. Everyday was nothing short of amazing, we got to work with baby sea turtles, capture sea turtles, and help with patrolling. It was so fun to get to know Felipe, Cristina, Lucho and Cris, they are wonderful people who truly care about the sea. I would recommend this to anyone looking for a volunteer experience in Latin/South America. 10/10! 5 stars!"- Jack Siepmann

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Web links / Other ways to help

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