Conservation volunteers work within a non-profit biological research and education centre, and all food, lodging, training and research will be provided within the reserve.
On the South Pacific beaches of Osa Costa Rica there are 4 potential species of sea turtles which can be seen nesting at different times of the year; Olive Ridley/ ‘Lora’ (Lepidochelys olivacea), Green (Chelonia mydas), Leatherback (Dermochelys coriacea) and Hawksbill (Eretmochelys imbricata). They are all in danger of extinction. Playa Tortuga beach is an olive ridley (Lepidochelys olivacea) nesting beach although it is possible that other species occasionally arrive.
The nesting period extends from July to December, with the peak of nesting in the months of September and October, during this period it is possible to observe an individual, every other night. Sometimes two or three. In the past two seasons, we have successfully protected over 140 nests and released 5,000 plus hatchlings, each nest contains on average 100 eggs. A percentage of nests are moved to the nursery/hatchery where they are observed and protected 24/7. In the hatchery, important data about the biology of the turtles’ nests are gathered, such as the incubation period, nest temperature and how this influences the sex of the hatchlings, as well as observing environmental factors such as precipitation and physical environmental factors.
Apart from sea turtle activities, there is also the chance to take part in crocodile monitoring and research, mammal surveys and setting camera traps, tree boa studies, environmental education and butterfly garden projects all year round.
- Care and protection of Hatchery and Camp
- Cleaning and maintenance of the Beach (Playa Tortuga)
- Assist project biologist with turtle data collection, monitoring (tagging) and management (including hatchling releases)
- Relocation of eggs to the hatchery or safe location on the beach. This is done when it is determined that eggs are threatened by beach erosion, tides, excessive driftwood or poachers.
- Night patrols on the Beach- Turtle and Poacher Monitoring.
Playa Tortuga is located just 3.5 hours from San Jose, in Ojochal de Osa on the Southern Pacific Coast Of Costa Rica. The Reserve offers an ideal environment for researchers and volunteers. It is located in the tropical rainforest and just outside of Marino Ballena National Park. This park is named after the humpback whales that migrate there from August – October and December – April. Three species of dolphins are also common visitors to the waters. Visitors can explore miles of deserted beaches, mangrove forests and coral reefs. On days off you can take a bus to visit Dominical and Uvita, local towns where you can go surfing, or arrange a full day snorkelling trip to Cano Island, go whale watching or do a mangrove tour by kayak. In addition, you can find local souvenirs and ice cream parlours, which are a favourite with the volunteers!
Conservation volunteers live at the research centre – the property itself is on 42 hectares of reserve which borders the Pacific ocean and the Terraba. The facilities currently hold 15 people in the main centre, in addition to a private residence used for conferences and training. Facilities are of high quality. Volunteers live in large, spacious and clean rooms, all have fans and new orthopaedic mattresses. You also get free internet usage, 1 free laundry wash per week, a purified water system, education and a small research library area is also available for volunteers. From Monday to Friday, all lunch meals are provided for you, but you will need to prepare your own breakfasts and dinners and weekend meals alongside other volunteers/staff members. All food will be provided.
Projects at Playa Tortuga run all year round, except for the sea turtle programme, which runs from July to January only. Volunteers can join for 1 week up to 12 weeks, while there is also the possibility to intern for up to 6 months.
For more details on how the programme works, dates, costs and how to apply, please visit our detailed project page here.