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Watamu Turtle Programme, Kenya

Reference   (Please mention Stopdodo/Environment Jobs in your application)
Sectors Terrestrial / Aquatic Ecology & Conservation
Location Kenya - Africa
Town/City Watamu
Salary Additional Information Voluntary
Type Temporary / Contract / Seasonal
Status Full Time
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
Also Listing:

Join this programme and take part in sea turtle conservation volunteer work involving research and monitoring of nesting turtles, education and outreach as well as turtle rehabilitation all throughout the year in Watamu, Kenya.

The project was featured in the last episode of a 6 part BBC documentary series, Africa, featuring Sir David Attenborough.

You can join for 4 weeks up to 8 weeks all year round. We have places all throughout 2013 and 2014 available.

Individuals, groups and students doing research all welcome.

The Project

This project offers the opportunity to volunteer with sea turtles in Kenya and take part in a variety of different sea turtle conservation related projects, as listed below. We are happy to discuss each area of work with you and are also open to your suggestions and welcome students with research ideas.

1. Sea Turtle Conservation Volunteer Work & Research 

Beach patrols
  • Turtle patrols are undertaken each night (during nesting season) at varying hours to monitor and help protect nesting/hatching activity. These patrols can involve walks of up to 8km per night. The nesting population is small and has an irregular season at Watamu, so seeing nesting events are by no means guaranteed.
  • Marine patrols to collect information on illegal/destructive fishing activities and turtle mortality.
Volunteers are not expected to conduct these patrols on their own. A community / LOT field officer undertakes most of these patrols and the volunteers provide him with very useful assistance.

Nest excavations
After a turtle nest hatches it is excavated to see what proportion of eggs have hatched successfully.
Assisting with sea turtle net releases and research
Participating in sea turtle releases and related research is a popular activity with volunteers, and is something that you are sure to be involved in during your time with us and is a main part of sea turtle conservation volunteer work at Watamu.

Turtle rehabilitation
There is the possibility that during your stay with us we may have a turtle in rehabilitation at the office. Volunteer assistance is required in feeding, keeping the tanks clean and for the strong swimmers, the turtles for sea swims to rehabilitate them back into the sea.

Other sea turtle conservation volunteer/research work:

  • Poaching surveys
  • Mangrove seedling collection and replanting
  • GPS mapping
  • Beach surveys
  • Beach clean ups
  • Movement pattern research of turtles in Mida Creek
  • Mida Creek survey
  • Crab catching

2. Education & awareness

  • Signage - Producing and distributing conservation related signs in Park & Reserve areas is an ongoing activity.
  • Assisting the development and running of the Local Ocean Marine Centre - helping with designing displays, games for children, guiding visitors, group visits etc.
  • Displays in our marine centre are periodically changed and we would love your input in designing these. The artistic and creative are Educational materials and activities
  • Awareness Days
  • Further development and implementation of the LOT field education programme in local schools and fish landing sites

3. Community development

  • Creating and working with alternative income generation activities.
  • Developing ideas for fishing community members to generate alternative incomes to current unsustainable marine resource exploitation.
  • Local crafts activity and community development work.
  • Improved awareness and practice in recycling and composting.

4.  General

  • Fundraising events, links with international schools, local craft designs etc.
  • Languages and help with translations

You can take part in the Watamu Sea Turtle Watch programme throughout the year as the By-Catch release programme operates the whole time with anywhere between 10 and 90 turtles being released from fishing nets per week. The Rehabilitation centre also operates all year round but is particularly busy during August and November / December. The peak nesting season is from May to August but occasionally we get turtles nesting throughout the year.

As volunteers, you will be supervised on all of the projects by a resident volunteer co-ordinator who will be there to train and guide you throughout your time on the project. You will also receive orientation and proper training at the beginning of the project.



The Watamu Marine Park is part of a United Nations Biosphere Reserve and has been designated as a place of great natural beauty with miles of beautiful beaches and corals rich in marine flora and fauna. 

Watamu / Malindi Marine Parks and Reserve (WMMPR) covers an area of 229 km2 and is part of a United Nations Biosphere Reserve, that also includes the Arabuko Sokoke Coastal forest. The WMMPR protected areas consist of two Marine Parks: Malindi in the North, and Watamu in the South. This amounts to approximately 30kms of coastline, with a fringing reef along its entirety, as well as numerous patch reefs. The fringing reef forms several lagoons, some of which are still rich in coral and fish species. The Parks and Reserves provide an important residing and feeding habitat for sea turtles, while the 5km beach within Watamu Marine Park is a key turtle nesting ground in the country.
The Sea Turtle Programme in Kenya

Watamu Turtle Watch was formed in 1997 to continue and develop the marine turtle conservation efforts of a local naturalist Barbara Simpson, which she had been undertaking in the area since the 1970's.  Very quickly they came to realise that the survival of the marine turtles in Watamu was intrinsically linked to the well being of the surrounding marine environment and to the protection of turtles across their migratory range. 
Concerned by the widespread degradation of the Kenyan marine environment, and  national exploitation of marine turtles, they broadened its conservation efforts to encompass these issues while maintaining a focus of its turtle activities in the Watamu / Malindi area.  They work in close co-operation with the Kenya Wildlife Service (KWS), Fisheries Department, Kenya Marine Fisheries Research Institute (KMFRI) and the Kenya Sea Turtle Conservation Committee (KESCOM), of which it is a member.

Additional details

For more information regarding this opportunity, including pricing, scheduling, the application process and food/accomodation, please visit the main project page here, or contact Vicky McNeil here.

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