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VOLUNTEER OPPORTUNITY

Position: Sea turtle research volunteer
Type: volunteer, minimum 7 days, with lodging, meals, fee (see below)
Organization: Latin American Sea Turtles - LAST
Location: San Jose, Costa Rica, Central America

You and your help are crucial for the future of the oceans and sea turtles. Your time and hands make the difference to many baby turtles, to nesting turtle mothers and to incredible and productive tropical coastal ecosystems. Also your contribution supports the economy of the local communities we are working with. The results are better living conditions for local people and turtles alike.

The projects recruit national and international volunteers to support our field work as part of the research and conservation project. It is essential that the monitoring and tagging efforts continue for a better understanding of the presence and the health status of different species in Costa Rica. Volunteers support our scientists and research assistants in the field work, in two very different locations.

(1) Pacuare Leatherback Nesting Beach, Caribbean

The project is located in the north of the Caribbean province Limón, and is an important nesting beach for Leatherback and Green Sea Turtles and sometimes also visited by the rare Hawksbill Sea Turtle.

This conservation project works together with the local community of Pacuare, former poachers have been trained in sea turtle conservation and work together with volunteers to protect the critically endangered animals. The project does nightly and daily beach patrols, and operates a hatchery. Volunteers take an important part in Pacuare, as their fees generate an income for the local inhabitants. LAST strives to increase alternative livelihoods for coastal communities to take the need for poaching and hunting turtles away and to achieve a long lasting sustainable sea turtle management.

Between March and October volunteers, international and local research assistants patrol the beach from 8:00 pm to 4:00 am in different shifts and in different sectors. It will take at least 4 hours to patrol the beach effectively and if a nesting turtle is found, the eggs will be collected and relocated into a hatchery. The turtle work will be done following an official protocol and involves tagging, taking biometry and other important data of the turtle. Former poachers now trained in conservation techniques together with previously trained volunteers (they assist in taking data, biometry and collecting eggs) carry out the important work and are also responsible for guarding the nests at the hatchery and releasing baby turtles.

The cost per day is $40 which allows us to purchase all research equipment needed - such as latex gloves, tagging materials, egg bags, waterproof field forms - as well as paying the biologists salary. This fee will include 3 meals per day. The transport via taxi and boat is a one off fee of $45 - which covers the round trip transportation from Bataan.

(2) Osa In water Study, Playa Blanca, Peninsular de Osa

Foraging sea turtles are mainly found in shallow coastal areas, in some cases around coral reefs. By sampling the Golfo Dulce, it is possible to gain information on the demographic structure of the population, such as abundance of immature, adults, male and non-breeding females, and their behavior.

Surveys will be conducted twice a week (weather permitting) and will consist of:

Capture/Recapture of turtles using nets:

Once a sea turtle is caught we untangle them from the net, take them into the boat. We check every individual if there are wounds or anomalies. Then we take data of the biometry of the turtle (size of the carapace) and tag them with metal and PIT tags in case the sea turtle doesn't have any tag, and take tissue samples to examine the mitochondrial DNA to reconstruct the lineage of the females. All the data (size, tag-number, sample numbers) needs to be recorded in a clean and correct manner.

If we catch a weak sea turtle, receive one from another beach or find one, we will take it to our field rescue center at the project site. Patients are usually very stressed already, the reason why it is very important to be quiet trying to make the patient as comfortable as possible. Part of this is keeping the sea turtle’s water clean and the temperature in a reansonable level without bothering.

Keep in mind, having no patients in the rescue center is a good sign. Conditions in captivity are only done if considered to be nessesary and follow international and national criteria.

Mangroves play a very important role in the coastal ecosystems of de Golfo Dulce. Not only are they benefitting fishes, birds, invertebrates and humans, but also sea turtles. This is why LAST started a reforestation program in Playa Blanca, to recover mangrove areas that have been destroyed in the past.

Sea grass meadows are a crucial reason why we can find sea turtles in the Golfo Dulce. They also provide ecosystem services that rank among the highest of all ecosystems on earth. In the Golfo Dulce they haven’t been studied, whish makes all data very important.

The sea grass monitoring is usually only done in presence of enough volunteers, very low tides at the right time, which can be very challangeing, specially considering unpredictable variables.

There is a one off inscription fee of $40 for this program - which helps to cover the costs of running the boat ( capitain and fuel charges).

Per day fees depend on accommodation chosen - and can range from $50 to $75 per day. These fees provide local accommodation owners with an income, who will provide you with 3 meals per day, and a safe and confortable room. It also allows the project to purchase much needed research equipment such as sterile needles and syringes, latex gloves, sample containers, nets and weight, as well as paying the biologists salary.

Please apply online:
http://www.latinamericanseaturtles.com/volunteer-join-us.php

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Current status: Open/apply now.   Date posted: Jan 22 2018    ID: 43841