from 470€

Fantastic 4.5rating (18)

In water Sea Turtle Studies

443€ per week  ·  1 - 12 weeks  ·  Age 18 - 50+

  Verified by Volunteer World
  Excellent response rate

Especially suitable

Age 18+

About the program

Monitor the feeding habits of turtles in the Peninsular de Osa, by laying nets, catching and taking data from turtles. This is combined with mangrove reforestation

About the Program

At our Osa in-water program you have the unique opportunity to get hands on experience with scientific research. 

In Playa Blanca, our work focuses on Hawksbill (Eretmochelys imbricata) and Eastern Pacific Green turtles (Chelonia mydas). Sea turtles spend only 1% of their lives on ...

About the program

About the Program

At our Osa in-water program you have the unique opportunity to get hands on experience with scientific research. 

In Playa Blanca, our work focuses on Hawksbill (Eretmochelys imbricata) and Eastern Pacific Green turtles (Chelonia mydas). Sea turtles spend only 1% of their lives on the nesting beaches and due to this behavioral pattern, mainly only adult females are studied. Very little information is available about juvenile populations and sex ratios of adult populations. Therefore, more in water work is needed to increase knowledge about habitats used by sea turtles in different life stages in order to assess the types of threats they are exposed to.

We carry out in-water studies and operate a basic rescue and rehabilitation center, which has opened its doors at the end of 2011. Since then we have received more than 100 sea turtles, which we could rehabilitate and afterwards release back into the wild. Most of the turtles suffered different traumas or epibionts. Although Olive Ridleys (Lepidochelys olivacea) don’t forage in the Golfo Dulce, this is still a transit area for them. This is why we also treat this species when it is needed. Our rehab procedures and installations follow international best practices and provide us with 4 tanks for sea turtles. 

The in-water studies consist of monitoring the feeding habitat used by sea turtles in different life stages to collect data about population structure, genetic origin, health status and in-water habitat use. This will help us to assess the types of threats that sea turtles are exposed to in this area. We capture individuals, tag them, take biometric data, tissue and sometimes blood samples and release them back to the ocean.

Since mangroves play an essential ecological role for coastal ecosystems and therefore for sea turtles, we have implemented a mangrove reforestation program in Playa Blanca  in our conservation activities. In the long term this will improve the health status of mangroves and water quality in the area.

Another important but vulnerable ecosystem are the off shore sea grass beds, on which sea turtles and other marine animals feed, and which provide a living habitat for a wide range of organisms and small marine species. In 2013, LAST started to conduct sea grass bed studies near Playa Blanca to gain knowledge about the health status and biomass production. We found two species of sea grass which are essential in their contribution to a healthy ocean – the main condition for maintaining its biodiversity.

The Location

The Osa In-water program is located in Playa Blanca on the Dulce Gulf of the Peninsula Osa, South Pacific of Costa Rica. The region is one of the 25 biodiversity hotspots of the world including the Dulce Gulf, which is one of the 4 tropical fiords worldwide. Surrounded by different kinds of beaches, mangroves & estuaries it creates unique habitats for permanent and migratory species. More than 40 different fish species, as well as dolphins, whales, whale sharks and sea turtles thrive in various ecosystems of the Gulf. The Osa Peninsula hosts a large variety of tropical ecosystems, providing habitats to numerous animals like scarlet macaws, monkeys, sloths, wild cats and other wildlife, and countless tropical plants. A truly lush nature that still needs to be explored and researched is awaiting volunteers, to turn conservation work into a really exceptional experience!

Playa Blanca and the surrounding communities are all small, rural villages with lots of tradition and rich culture. Our philosophy is to involve the local community in our program – making the volunteers’ experience much more authentic, cultural, and enjoyable. 

What to Bring

  • Quick dry shorts/ shirts for every day work, Light weight shirts and pants
  • Socks and plenty of underwear, Swimsuits
  • Raincoat/poncho and/or umbrella
  • Sunglasses and hat, Sunblock, Insect repellent, water bottle
  • Quick dry towels
  • Close-toed beach shoes that can get wet, Flip flops, Sneakers
  • Headlamp
  • Day backpack
  • Snorkel and mask
  • Plastic bag for backpack
  • Dry bag

Typical day

Usual working days are 6 days per week from 07:30 AM - 3:30 PM.

Your Tasks

In-Water Monitoring:

A monitoring trip takes 7 hours; you will leave early in the morning and return after lunch time. Volunteers help with the preparation of boat equipment, adequate maintenance of the turtle net and will ...

Typical day

Usual working days are 6 days per week from 07:30 AM - 3:30 PM.

Your Tasks

In-Water Monitoring:

A monitoring trip takes 7 hours; you will leave early in the morning and return after lunch time. Volunteers help with the preparation of boat equipment, adequate maintenance of the turtle net and will follow the instructions by the staff during the day. Once the net is set properly, volunteers will wait on the beach for any signs of capture. You will be needed for checking the net in the water.

Additionally you will assist in taking important data and samples from the animals. After an in-water trip, there is still maintenance work to do on the net and equipment so the next trip can be prepared and carried out smoothly. Sometimes we are busy like working with 3 or 4 turtles in 7 hours, and sometimes we may not catch any at all.

Field Rescue and Rehabilitation Center:

If we receive or find a injury turtle to treat at our center, you will be involved in the daily care for sea turtles, which includes feeding, water change and cleaning tanks, as well as assisting our staff in taking and recording data. Our facilities are rustic, however, they follow international standards and our protocols are based on them too. 

Our goal is to proceed to enhance the existing facilities and built a hospital area to improve veterinarian treatment for the sea turtles. This a great opportunity to future biologist, marine ecologists, veterinarians or environment enthusiasts because is direct involvement on sea turtle care.

Mangrove Nursery and Reforestation:

Reforestation activities involve the collection of seeds in the mangrove forest of the Gulf, preparation of mud boxes, transplanting the seeds in germination bags, watering the propagules, transport the small trees to the reforestation area, planting the small trees in areas where mangroves are declining and finally you will join field trips to look out for new areas of mangroves and to get seeds again. The work can be dirty but really great, so old clothes are necessary to bring with you, as you will work exposed to the sun often, so don’t forget your sun cream, hat and water bottle.

Sea grass studies:

You will work in couples by transepts and squares of a marked area near shore to count sea grass leaves for biomass monitoring, and every three months we remove seagrass of the monitoring quadrants to estimate the regeneration of the sea grass bed. 

Sea grasses have a lot of important characteristics for coastal marine ecosystems and sea turtles, they are important source of food for green turtle, also this benthic ecosystem process huge amounts of carbon fixed releasing oxygen into the atmosphere, while a hectare of seagrass processes the carbon released by a car on a journey of 2,500 km so it is very important to get to know them better since there is no existing data of them in the Golfo Dulce. Be part of the process to collect first scientific data of sea grasses in the Golfo Dulce, get to know the work depending on tides and dynamic coastal ecosystems.

Free-time activities

The project lies close to Corcovado National park - which volunteers can visit on days off
The nearest town is Puerto Jimenez, with many shops, bars, restaurants and tours.
In Playa Blanca, it is possible to rent kayaks, horseride, or even take a canopy ziplining tour or an ATV tour.
Volunteers have ...

Free-time activities

The project lies close to Corcovado National park - which volunteers can visit on days off
The nearest town is Puerto Jimenez, with many shops, bars, restaurants and tours.
In Playa Blanca, it is possible to rent kayaks, horseride, or even take a canopy ziplining tour or an ATV tour.
Volunteers have one free day per week to enjoy activities. Our staff at the project will be happy to help organize.



Minimum Age: 18 years

In order to join the program you need to be at least 18 years old on the program start date. There might be exemptions if you can provide the permission of your legal guardian(s) or if your are accompanied by your parents.

Language Skills

You need to speak English (basic level)

Required Documents

Letter of motivation

Nationality Restrictions

No restrictions. Helping hands from all over the world are welcome.

Other Skills

Enthuisasm, willingness to work. Basic Spanish is an advantage.

Time Commitment

Your helping hand will be required on Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, Friday and Saturday from 07:30 - 15:30

What's Included

What's Included

Services by Latin American Sea Turtles

  • Accommodation
  • 3 Costa Rican meals per day
  • Training
  • Materials used for conservation work
  • Manual
  • 24 hour staff support

  • We can provide airport pickup, but the costs are not included in the fees. 

    13%VAT will be added to the final invoice as per Costa Rican law, for services used within the country


Fees vary according to category of accommodation - volunteers can choose from basic homestays to air conditioned hotels. Prices shown are for homestay accommodation located 4km from the project site. Volunteers will be given a bicycle to commute to work.

please ask for more accommodation options and prices.

We work with local families who are committed to the conservation effort in the area.

Food & Beverages

Breakfast will usually consist of "gallo pinto" - rice and beans, eggs, corn tortillas and coffee. Main meals will consist of rice and beans, plantains, salads, vegetables, pasta and some protein.
There will occasionally be fresh fruit.
Coffee is very common in Costa Rica, as is fresh fruit juices.

What's NOT included?

What's NOT included?

Airport Pickup at Juan Santamaria International Airport

An airport pickup isn't included within the program fees either.

Internet Access

Sorry, no access at the project site

Flight Tickets

The nearest airport is Juan Santamaria International Airport (SJO) in San Jose. We assist you to find cheap flights to Costa Rica. FIND CHEAP FLIGHTS

Travel Insurance

Going abroad is an adventure and it is always best to be prepared. Sudden illness or injury, cancellation or theft - a travel insurance for Costa Rica provides security and is a plus to have. GET A QUOTE


If you are intending to volunteer in Costa Rica you should seek medical advice before starting your social journey. Check your required vaccinations for Costa Rica. VACCINE CHECKER

Details on arrival

Volunteers can start at the project Mondays to Fridays only.

Please not that all volunteers must attend an orientation at our offices in San Jose before travelling to the project.
The office is only open from Monday to Friday, so please plan your arrival accordingly.
When you come to the office your must bring a copy of your passport, a copy of your insurance ( travel or health) , and full payment.
We cannot accept payment at the project site.

Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec

Program fees

1 week (min. stay) 470€
2 weeks 901€
3 weeks 1,293€
4 weeks 1,705€
6 weeks 2,528€
8 weeks 3,351€
12 weeks (max. stay) 4,997€
Average fees 443€/week

Program fees

443€ per week 1 - 12 weeks Age 18 - 50+

Payment methods

Visa Master Card Maestro American Express PayPal



1 - 12 weeks

Deposit (15%)

The deposit is simply to reserve your volunteer placement. Payments are handled by PayPal, our trusted global payment provider. If you don't have a PayPal account, you can also pay using a credit card.

Final Payment (85%)

Your final payment will be agreed with Latin American Sea Turtles during the application process. Common solutions are either via bank transfer or a cash payment at the project site.

Meet your host

Latin American Sea Turtles

Fantastic 4.5 rating (18 reviews)

Non-profit - founded in 2013

Verified by Volunteer World

  Excellent response rate

Coordinated by


Spoken languages: English, Spanish

About the project

LAST (Latin American Sea Turtles) is dedicated to protecting and conserving endangered sea turtles on the Pacific and Caribbean Coasts of Costa Rica.

Meet your host

Who we are?

LAST (Latin American Sea Turtles) Association (formerly WIDECAST-Costa Rica) is a Costa Rican group with 11 members and a directive board of 5, working together to make a change in sea turtle conservation. We are member of WIDECAST, an international scientific network with country coordinators resident in more than 40 countries and territories of the Wider Caribbean Region. Our field teams are integrated by local assistants with unparalleled experience in sea turtle research and conservation, people with vast experience working with volunteers and environmental enthusiasts developing creative strategies to avoid the extinction of these species.

With close to thirty years' experience working with Costa Rican sea turtles, Latin American Sea Turtles Association Staff are experts when it comes to sea turtle population management, community based conservation, coastal management and volunteer assisted research.

Our Vision

Our vision is to realize a future where all inhabitants of the Costa Rican coasts, human and sea turtle alike, can live together in balance; where healthy populations of sea turtles fulfill their ecological roles and economic potential; and critical natural habitats are sustainably managed.

Our Work

In our effort to create environments where humans and sea turtles can live together in balance, we have developed different programs. The first, a group of conservation and research programs both on the Caribbean and Southern Pacific coasts of Costa Rica. The Caribbean program is located in Cahuita, Moin and Pacuare beaches, where we focus on the nesting of leatherback, green and hawksbill turtles, while the South Pacific program is located in Osa Peninsular, where we work in the recovery of mangrove forests and sea grass beds as well as the studies of the rare Eastern Pacific hawksbill turtles.

We have also generated a voluntourism program to create alternative livelihoods by training local partners on how to receive volunteers and tourism in community homestays. This increases strongly their local opportunities to have a better income and reduces the pressure over the turtles, their eggs and their critical habitats.

Besides that, we initiated programs to monitor reefs, train the park rangers in monitoring turtle nesting and educate hundreds of local students on the importance of marine and coastal conservation. Finally we also advise the government on marine environments, participate in several local, national and international networks and publish articles to improve the knowledge about the ocean and its life.

Why do we need your help?

The global oceans are showing an important decline in health and abundance. Sea turtles as important creatures of these ecosystems do not escape from this critical status. The multiple anthropic threats and the permanent impact of several human activities over sea turtles keep them in a critical endangered condition.

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.

Finally, you will be better human being, with great memories and incredible experiences for future. In our win-win programs you will enjoy hands on participation, undertaking conservation like no other.

What can you expect from us?

Latin American Sea Turtles guarantees a full experience of hard work, a direct interaction with sea turtles and their critical habitats. You will be participating in the development of proven, effective and interesting conservation practices, that will lead to understanding the true conservation with the participation of key stakeholders in the community. Full of experiences that enrich their lives, rebusterecean knowledge and skills for the future. It will work in multi-ethnic, multicultural and multilingual human teams that lead to extreme challenges of experience to save the life of our oceans. There’s no doubt that you will make a difference by supporting the survival of these amazing creatures: Sea Turtles!

Do I need to speak Spanish?

No, but it helps to communicate with your host families and locals.

When is the best time to volunteer?

Minimum participation time is one week at Latin American Sea Turtles. The best time to volunteer depends on the program you choose. Working with turtles is at some programs only available certain months a year because they depend on the nesting seasons. 

Why do I have to pay for my volunteering experience?

Our prices reflect the needs we have as a non-profit organization dedicated to sea turtle conservation and the improvement of local livelihoods. The rate includes an introduction; training for the work; volunteers' manual with general information about us, the program, sea turtles and your expected duties; professional assistance; three meals, and lodging in shared facilities. The money you spend for volunteering will be used towards your host family or accommodation, salaries of our local Latin American Sea Turtles staff, operation costs of the project (including boat and motor) rescue and rehabilitation center, and equipment and materials used for all the sea turtle conservation, as well as activities in environmental education and outreach.

18 reviews · rating4.5

Wendy Warda rating5

2022 at In water Sea Turtle Studies

Eduardo’s leadership was excellent. He was able to maximize the learning process of each participant while keeping everyone safe and ensuring that the turtles and and other wildlife were cared for properly. He also maintained a strong relationship with the local community through responsible ...
Joanne Gandarillas Lorenzi rating5

2022 at In water Sea Turtle Studies

I stayed for a week and it was an incredible experience, we worked for 6 days a week and everyday there was something different to do. From mangrove reforestation, cleaning up the nursery, going on a boat to do the turtle monitoring and in the meantime enjoying the sun, the sea and even watch other ...
Denis Ashton rating5

2021 at In water Sea Turtle Studies

At age 78, I was a little apprehensive about my ability to participate physically in this experience and relate to those individuals responsible for the program. I shouldn't have worried as I was able to perform all tasks. The young research assistants, lead and volunteers were kind to me, more than ...
Marie LIGER rating4.8

2019 at In water Sea Turtle Studies

First met Nicky in San Jose who presented me an overview of the project and gave me all the infos necessary to get to the project site. On site accomodation was in a comfortable 'cabina' but moreover was welcomed by a sweet Tica host. Concerning the project : it has multiple aims within sea ...
Kathy Netherclift rating1.6

2018 at In water Sea Turtle Studies

Unfortunately I have enjoyed better volunteering projects, having a very small but dedicated team meant there was very little infrastructure or opportunities to see other sights of the local area, extremely difficult to get to Corcovada National Park which is why I had chosen this project, only a ...
Kenzie rating5

2015 at In water Sea Turtle Studies

We worked six days a week although I am not sure that it could be considered work with how enjoyable it was. Two days a week, we hauled all of our gear, consisting of snacks, two coolers of nets, life jackets, anchors, and turtle supplies down to the beach where we would meet our boat captain bright ...


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