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Environment & Wildlife

The TOP 7 Sea Turtle Conservation Volunteer Projects

November 19th 2023

Volunteer with baby turtles in GreeceVolunteer with Turtles | Volunteer GreeceDiscover the Best Sea Turtle Conservation Volunteer Opportunities Worldwide

Sea turtle conservation volunteers are vital for the future of these ancient creatures. For millennia, sea turtles have captivated coastal societies and ocean enthusiasts worldwide. These creatures, with a lineage stretching back over 100 million years, are not just a marvel of nature but also vital to marine ecosystems. However, in recent decades, these ancient and beautiful reptiles have faced escalating threats of extinction, largely due to human activities.

Recognising this crisis, WorkingAbroad is committed to sea turtle conservation, offering a range of projects across the globe for volunteers passionate about marine conservation. If you’ve ever aspired to volunteer with sea turtles, our curated list of top sea turtle conservation projects will provide the perfect opportunity. This blog post offers an insight into the fascinating world of sea turtles, their conservation status, and how you can get involved in some of the most impactful volunteer projects dedicated to their preservation.

Challenges Facing Sea Turtles: The Urgent to Volunteer for Sea Turtle Conservation

Volunteers see a sea turtle opening its mouthVolunteer Maldives | Marine Conservation | Working AbroadSea turtles, known for their extensive oceanic life and rare land visits for nesting, face critical challenges. These mariners of the sea, including the widely-travelled Loggerhead sea turtles, inhabit the world’s oceans from Japan to Mexico. Of the seven existing species, six are endangered, with three critically so. Key threats identified by the World Conservation Union (IUCN) include destructive fishing practices, rampant pollution, coastal development encroaching on nesting sites, poaching for commercial gains, and the profound impacts of climate change, which disrupt their natural habitats and nesting beaches. This highlights the urgent need for sea turtle conservation efforts and volunteer support in marine conservation.

Global Opportunities to Volunteer with Sea Turtles

Volunteers watch a Leatherback sea turtle digging in GrenadaWork Grenada | Leatherback Sea Turtle Volunteer | Working Abroad

Sea turtles inhabit almost every ocean, presenting diverse opportunities worldwide to volunteer with these creatures. Many sea turtle conservation projects rely heavily on volunteers for both hands-on assistance and funding through volunteer fees, making these efforts crucial for the protection of turtles and their habitats.

Volunteering in sea turtle conservation is not only about physical fitness and a positive attitude but also about making a meaningful difference. While it’s essential to choose programmes with a genuine focus on turtle welfare, WorkingAbroad ensures that all our volunteer opportunities are thoroughly vetted for ethical and sustainable practices. By joining us, you contribute significantly to the welfare of sea turtles in a responsible manner.

Are you ready to explore our top 7 sea turtle volunteering opportunities and make a real impact?

1. Playa Tortuga Conservation Project, Costa Rica

  • Volunteer holds a sea turtle egg in Costa ricaVolunteer Sea Turtles | Volunteer Costa Rica | Working AbroadWhat: The team at the Playa Tortuga Conservation Project study the native nesting sea turtle population, as well as monitoring and researching crocodiles, tree boas and a wide variety of mammal life in the region.
  • Where: Playa Tortuga is part of a tropical rainforest nature reserve along the Pacific coastline of Costa Rica. The region is home to miles of unspoilt beaches, coral reefs and mangrove forests.

This volunteering project is one of the most popular at WorkingAbroad. Volunteers have given it an overall rating of 4.9 out of 5 stars. Sean Hiddleston from the UK, who volunteered on the project for 3 weeks, said;

“I had an incredible time in Costa Rica. I was lucky enough to help with the first two turtle releases of the year. Can’t overstate how amazing it is to watch them make their way to the water for the first time. Other highlights were the tree boa monitoring and the crocodile/caiman boat trip.”

2. Watamu Sea Turtle Volunteer Project, Kenya

Volunteers holding sea turtles in KenyaWatamu Kenya | Sea Turtle Marine Volunteering | Working AbroadWhat: The Watamu Sea Turtle Volunteer Project aims to protect the area’s sea turtle population by researching and monitoring nesting turtles, as well as rehabilitating sick and injured turtles. They also provide outreach and education programmes in the local community.

Where: The Watamu coast in Kenya is part of a United Nations Biosphere Reserve, sat on a stretch of pristine beaches with coral reefs and rich marine life, perfect for snorkelling.

The project has been given a full 5 out of 5 stars by previous volunteers. Sofia Gothlin, from Sweden, said;

“My time in Watamu was incredible! Couldn’t have been better; The accommodation, the people I was able to work with and all the amazing projects I got to be a part of. I will definitely go back some time to work with them again”

3. Ocean Leatherback Sea Turtle Volunteer Project, Grenada

Volunteer with female nesting leatherback sea turtleWork Grenada | Leatherback Sea Turtle Volunteer | Working AbroadWhat: The Ocean Leatherback Sea Turtle Volunteer Project protects the local population of Leatherbacks, the largest sea turtle species still in existence. They do this through research projects, educational events in the community, and preventing illegal egg poaching activities in the region.

Where: The Ocean Leatherback Sea Turtle Volunteer Project is on the beautiful windswept coast of Grenada, one of the most unspoilt islands in the Caribbean.

The project has been given 4.9 stars out of 5 by past volunteers. Julie Racioppa, from Canada, joined the project for 3 weeks. She says;

“I had a very memorable time with Ocean Spirits! They were accommodating and amazing! The night surveys were my favourite, watching the turtles emerge from the ocean was absolutely incredible. Observing the mama turtles, counting eggs and finding hatchlings blew my mind! Highly recommend!”

4. Sea Turtle Conservation Volunteer Project, Greece

A volunteer holds a baby sea turtle in GreeceVolunteer with Turtles | Volunteer GreeceWhat: The Sea Turtle Conservation Volunteer Project focuses on protecting endangered sea turtles in their natural habitat by tracking and protecting nesting sites and hatchling populations, as well as promoting public awareness and education.

Where: The project is based on the beautiful island of Kefalonia, off the west coast of mainland Greece. It’s an area of outstanding natural beauty and biodiversity, with numerous rare and endemic species.

This conservation project has been given a 4.8 out of 5 star rating from previous volunteers. Kathryn Mincer, from the UK, spent 2 weeks volunteering with the project in Kefalonia. She says;

I loved my experience there, and would highly recommend it to others! My favourite activities was watching sea turtles around the harbour and helping with tagging events and health checks of turtles. It’s a great project and I’d love to return to it again.”

5. Galapagos Conservation Volunteers

Volunteer photo of a Galapagos IguanaGalapagos Volunteer | Galapagos Wildlife Conservation | Working AbroadWhat: The Galapagos Conservation Volunteers Programme touches a range of wildlife conservation and environmental projects on Isabela island, Galapagos. It forms part of a wider comprehensive approach to developmental aid in Galapagos. Volunteers can help to care for giant tortoises, become an ecotourism intern in the national park and get involved with turtle nest monitoring.

Where: Awe-inspiring and magnificent, The Galápagos Islands are one of the most renowned oceanic archipelagos in the world. Wildlife abounds above and below the sea surface here, and most of the plants, animals, and other forms of biodiversity are endemic, found nowhere else on the planet.

The project has been rated 5 out of 5 stars by previous volunteers. Liz and Alex, mother and son from the UK, volunteered for 2 weeks. They said;

“We loved every minute of it, learnt a lot and came away with much to reflect on. The ‘office’ was the most stunning beach imaginable, littered with iguanas and other wildlife.

6. Maldives Island Volunteer Project

Volunteer swimming with a sea turtle in The MaldivesVolunteer Maldives | Marine Conservation | Working AbroadWhat: The Maldives Island Volunteer Project runs marine conservation volunteering programmes to protect and rehabilitate endangered sea turtle populations, as well as repairing local coral reefs and conducting marine life surveys. They also offer separate volunteer programmes to protect the local environment, as well as medical volunteering in hospitals on the island.

Where: The project is based on Naifaru Island, in the Northern part of the Maldives. It’s got an incredible coastline, with white sandy beaches and crystal clear blue water, which is perfect for snorkelling.

Previous volunteers have given the Maldives Island Volunteer Project 5 stars out of 5. Adolfo Marques, from Brazil, had an incredible time volunteering with the project. He says;

“I had a wonderful experience. Being in contact with the ocean and its life is magic. The peaceful coexistence of different cultures brought me immeasurable growth. I am sure that in Naifaru I left a bit of me and I brought with me all the people and the things that they taught me.”

7. Pacific Sea Turtle Volunteer Project, Costa Rica

Volunteers dig a sea turtle hatchery in Costa RicaVolunteer Costa Rica | Sea Turtle Volunteer | Working AbroadWhat: The Pacific Sea Turtle Volunteer Project runs conservation programmes to protect, research and monitor Olive ridley, Green and Hawksbill sea turtles, through activities like monitoring nesting turtles, carrying out night surveys, and protecting eggs in the hatchery before releasing baby turtles into the ocean.

Where: The project is based on the Osa Peninsula which runs along the Pacific coast of southwest Costa Rica. The area is home to the Corcovado National Park, which National Geographic called ‘the most biologically intense place on Earth’.

Previous volunteers loved their experience with the Pacific Sea Turtle Volunteer Project, giving it an overall score of 4.9 out of 5 stars. Matteo Ferrarini, from Italy, volunteered on the project for 4 weeks. He says;

“My volunteering experience was absolutely amazing; I really liked working with sea turtles, the conservation project was run in a professional way and I learnt a lot. I also really enjoyed the way of life there, that was simple and genuine, like doing the classes with the local kids or making coconut oil that we used to cook.”

We hope this list has inspired you to find out more about volunteering in sea turtle conservation with WorkingAbroad. Our previous volunteers tell us their time spent on these projects has been an incredibly valuable experience, and of course, an adventure of a lifetime.

Article written by WorkingAbroad Blog Writer Grace Plant

(updated in November 2023 by David J Johnston)

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Blog articles about our volunteer projects, the wider world and from volunteers in the field are shared here for everyone to get inspired and learn more about wildlife conservation topics, volunteering abroad and much more.