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Olive Ridley Sea Turtle Programme, Costa Rica

Reference   (Please mention Stopdodo/Environment Jobs in your application)
Sectors Hydrology, Hydrogeology, Water Resources
Location Costa Rica - America South
Type Temporary / Contract / Seasonal
Status Part Time / Per Day
Level Voluntary & Interns
Deadline 02/03/2016
Company Name WorkingAbroad Projects
Contact Name Vicky McNeil
Telephone 01273 479 047
Email victoria.mcneil@workingabroad.com
Website Further Details / Applications
WorkingAbroad Projects logo
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Volunteer in Costa Rica and become a sea turtle volunteer, helping to conserve and protect the populations of vulnerable Olive Ridleys. The project takes place in the spectacular Pacific coast of the Nicoya Province on the beach where Olive Ridley turtles come up in thousands at a time for this phenomenon of nature called "arribadas".

You can join for 1 week up to 12 weeks all year round and we have places all throughout 2015 and 2016 available.

Individuals, groups, students doing research and families all welcome.

Marine Conservation Volunteer Opportunities

As an Olive Ridley sea turtle volunteer, you will assist with:

  • Measuring the carapace (shell) length and width of nesting adult turtles
  • Helping with data collection for master books (record time, zone, activity, etc. of the turtles)
  • Supporting researchers with tagging and general checking
  • Nest exhumations
  • Beach cleanups  (to remove debris that would impede the movement of nesting females or hatchlings)
  • Sports and cultural activities

A Typical Night Patrol Survey

Nightly patrols are run in two five hour shifts; from 8pm to midnight and midnight to 4am. Volunteers are led by an experienced patrol leader and walk a sector of the beach searching for nesting females. Once a turtle is encountered, volunteers will carefully assist in the collection of data such as; carapace length and width, nest location and dimensions (depth and width) and the number of eggs in the clutch. The eggs will be collected for relocation and the turtle checked for identification tags. If a turtle is found without tags they will be applied and a small tissue sample taken from the rear flipper for DNA analysis. Tagging and tissue samples will be performed by the patrol leader.

Ostional Beach & the "Arribadas"

This project is located at Ostional beach, within the Ostional National Wildlife Refuge (ONWR) in the Guanacaste Province. It is an important nesting beach for three of the world’s seven species of sea turtles, and has been active in sea turtle conservation for the past 40 years.

While the project does not work directly with the Olive Ridley turtles nesting in Ostional, our volunteers will often be lucky enough to witness first hand the rarely-seen biological spectacle of the arribada – one of nature’s true wonders. Thousands of Olive Ridley sea turtles leave the sea simultaneously, bumping into and crawling over each other as they ascend the beach in their endeavour to lay their eggs. At first a few hundred turtles arrive, followed by a steady stream of females for the next three to seven days (usually during the last quarter of the moon before New Moon). The Olive Ridley sea turtles (and its Atlantic cousin, Kemp’s Ridley turtle) are the only species to stage arribadas which are known to occur at only nine beaches worldwide: in Mexico, Nicaragua, Honduras, Surinam, Orissa in India and Costa Rica. Of these locations, Ostional beach is considered the second most important.  

Other Flora and Fauna
Besides the three species of turtles, animals that are typically seen in the surrounding area include; howler monkeys, white-nosed coatis, kinkajous, basilisks, bats and a variety of lizards. The mangrove swamp at the mouth of the Nosara River contains crocodiles and is an important nesting site for over 190 bird species. Along the beach are thousands of almost-transparent ghost crabs, bright red sally lightfoot crabs, and many tide pools abound in marine life such as sea anemones, sea urchins, starfish, and shellfish. The vegetation is typical of sandy beach environments and includes coconut trees, royal palms and mangroves. Behind the beach, there are deciduous trees such as frangipani, and stands of cacti.


Additional details

For more information regarding this opportunity, please visit the main project page here, or contact Vicky McNeil here. The application form can be found here, though it is advised that applicants express interest before applying, in order to discuss personal situations.

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