Turtle Trax

Protect nesting sea turtles along Costa Rica’s beautiful Pacific coast. Volunteer and make a difference!

Turtle Trax S.A. thrives to foster rural ecotourism initiatives that result in the protection of biodiversity and empowerment of local communities in Costa Rica’s southern Nicoya Peninsula.  Headquartered in San Francisco de Coyote, Nandayure, Guanacaste, Turtle Trax S.A. works under contract by the Costa Rican non-profit Rescue Center for Endangered Marine Species, or CREMA (cremacr.org), its Spanish acronym, managing all national and international volunteers and interns who wish to work alongside CREMA´s efforts to protect the region’s nesting sea turtles and promote sustainable coastal development.

About Us

The support of volunteers is essential for the long term operation and success of sea turtle conservation projects on nesting beaches, mainly in terms economic sustainability.  Since 2013, Turtle Trax S.A. operates a volunteer program that services four of CREMA’s sea turtle community based sea turtle conservation projects: San Miguel, Costa de Oro, Bejuco, and Corozalito.  Funds generated through these programs help provide an income for local community members (beach monitors, cooks, transportation and other services) and fund 100% of direct operational costs. Your direct contact as a volunteer with the community helps spark awareness regarding the importance and benefits that come from protecting sea turtles—the true definition of sustainable tourism.  Participants become immersed in the conservation project and the local culture, and speaking Spanish, while helpful, is certainly not a necessity (though you’ll have plenty of opportunity to practice!).  We also support rural ecotourism initiatives, such as a mangrove tours or sustainable fishing tours, both operated by local fishers.  Visits may have an academic component upon request (lectures by scientists).

Our goal is to help locals to take advantage of all natural resources the area is offering, obviously, in a sustainable and friendly way, taking care of the mother nature.

Our Projects

Turtle Trax runs four sea turtle conservation beach projects located on the Pacific side of Costa Rica’s southern Nicoyan Peninsula. Volunteers can participate at Costa de Oro and San Miguel projects while internship positions as Research Assistant and Coordinators are available at all four projects.

Playa San Miguel is a small beach town, and the project station house is on a beach-front property in the middle of the town. San Miguel is the longest-running of the four beach conservation projects. We have been investigating the nesting activity of marine turtles on this beach since 1998, after the town’s local community asked for help monitoring and protecting the nesting marine turtles.

Costa de Oro is a small village located alongside the beach. The project station house is situated right on the beach and has been in operation since 2011.

Bejuco is a small fishing village located behind Bejuco Beach.  Compared to the other projects Bejuco is more isolated, remote and rustic.  A small river has to be crossed in order to get to the beach. 

Playa Corozalito is an undeveloped beach, and the project station house is located in the town of Corozalito, a 45 minute walk from the beach. We began monitoring this site in August 2008 in response to the local community’s reports of frequent sea turtle nesting events.

Be a volunteer or do an internship!

What’s the difference?  Volunteers spend weeks at a time at our project sites, assisting nesting sea turtle monitoring activities.  Interns are recent graduates or advanced students seeking to obtain field experience before moving on with their careers.

Volunteers

Over the last 16 years, volunteers have worked hard on our project beaches to protect thousands of sea turtle nests and release hundreds of thousands of hatchings into the Pacific Ocean. The funds received from volunteers are used to run our turtle projects, and help provide an income for local community members through opportunities such as guiding patrols and cooking meals. Also, the work that volunteers do at our long-term projects helps build a sense of awareness among locals regarding the importance and benefits that come from protecting animals and nature.  Since sea turtle nesting is seasonal, our turtle conservation projects are only open for half of the year, from July to December.

Tasks

Volunteers accompany a member of the Turtle Trax team on nightly 3-4 hour beach patrols.  One purpose of these beach walks is to encounter nesting sea turtles and record scientific data. This information is used to gain an understanding of sea turtle reproductive behaviour, and improve our conservation strategies in the future. Another objective is to find sea turtle nests, collect the eggs, and move them to a hatchery where they are protected from poaching or depredation (dogs, racoons, voltures, ect.)

Volunteers help build and maintain the hatcheries to ensure that incubation conditions are optimal for egg development and monitoring the hatchery during the night and day for emerging hatchlings and intruding predators.

Once the hatchlings emerge from the nest, project participants release the hatchlings onto the beach, and protect them from predators as they crawl out the ocean.  Exhuming nests and collecting data on unhatched eggs can also be performed by volunteers under the watch of a research team member.

Along with the turtle tasks, volunteers are expected to help with station house maintenance and cleaning. Team members live in close proximities, so it is important to keep the living areas clean and functional.  Volunteers also take part in environmental activities and english classes for local kids.

There are additional opportunities available for volunteers such as helping out at local schools and assisting in climate change or beach garbage monitoring studies. If interested, please specify interests on the application form.

ACTIVITIES

Since the majority of the turtle work is done at night, there is normally plenty of free time during the day for volunteers to relax and catch up on sleep. Additional activities depend on what is available at each beach project, and include surfing, body-boarding, swimming, animal watching, and exploring close-by estuaries and tide pools. We also offer eco-tours. For more information please visit our tour page.

Research Assistants

Research assistant internships are a great opportunity to obtain biology field experience and hands-on experience working with nesting sea turtles!  The projects are open annually during the Olive Ridley nesting season.  Olive Ridleys are the principal species that nest on these beaches, but there is also sporadic nesting of Green, Leatherback, and Hawksbill sea turtles.  Egg poaching is the principal threat to the nesting sea turtles on these beaches. Secondary threats include nest predation, plastic pollution, beach development and tourist traffic.

Coordinators

All coordinator positions are only open to people who have had previous experience working with sea turtles and have extensive knowledge of patrolling, scientific data collection and hatchery work, can speak fluent Spanish and English, and have excellent leadership skills. All project sites are very remote, thus a Coordinator must have a high degree of independence, responsibility and commitment. Coordinators are expected to maintain a friendly relationship with all other project volunteers and research assistants, in addition to members from local communities, as positive social relationships are crucial to each projects’ success. All project activities are conducted using the help of volunteer program participants and/or research assistants, depending on the project. Coordinators are expected to orientate and direct project workers upon their arrival and motivate them for the duration of their stay with the project. Project coordinators are responsible for the overall success of the project.

APPLICATION PROCESS (Contact form below for general questions)

For Participants/Volunteers:

Please send the Participant Information Form to volunteers@turtle-trax.com in order to confirm availability.

For Research Assistants and Coordinators:

Please send the following documents to cmejiasbal@gmail.com or danielarojas159@gmail.com

  1. Cover letter indicating the time frame(s) you are applying for, why you are interested in the position, and your personal strong points
  2. CV / Resume
  3. A list of the email addresses of at least 2 professional or academic references.

Contact Us

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