Sea turtles in the Galapagos are at high risk during breeding season for a number of reasons: the adults are near the coast at this time, making them vulnerable to being hit by propellers of passing boats, and hatchlings are vulnerable to introduced predators to the island, such as feral cats and pigs. Volunteers help protect the turtles and provide data that will add to ongoing research and community education efforts to raise awareness and care for these animals. We collaborate with the Galapagos National Park, an established, local organization, to provide an opportunity for IOI to invest in conservation and social development through a local lens, and to give volunteers like you the opportunity to jump right into the heart of the work.
As a sea turtle nest monitor, you will walk a 6km stretch of beautiful Isabela beach at early light and in the late evening. Depending on the time of the season you arrive, you may be lucky enough (but of course not guaranteed) to observe a turtle nesting (January through mid-March) or in mid-March through May observe turtle hatchlings leave the nest. During your patrol you will collect baseline data for the Galapagos National Park to support the management plan of the local beach. This will include:
- Determing nesting patters of the Green Sea Turtle, the species that nests on Isabela beaches and marking off laid nests.
- Observing and taking data on nest sizes.
- As you walk the beach, picking up rubbish and debris to keep the beach clear for the turtles.
- Kikuyo removal - you will also be asked to dedicate 3 hours weekly to the removal of kikuyo from the turtle nesting area. Kikuyo is a highly invasive plant to Isabela that chokes out other native plant species and that overgrows into areas along the beach that sea turtles can no longer use to nest. Its removal will be an important part of your role.
- Beach profiling - if you'll be volunteering on this project around the 15th of each month (during the nesting season), we will need your help to measure beach erosion to determine the current beach profile. This data collection allows us to compare changes in the beach profile over time, ultimately leading to better management of the beach as erosion is a consequence of many factors.
- Ability to speak and understand Spanish is beneficial as it will increase your ability to communicate and integrate with community members. IOI staff are English speakers but National Park Staff speak basic English thus we highly recommend that you brush up on your Spanish skills to make the most of your experience. If you would like to add a 1 or 2 week long Spanish course to the start of your program, please let us know so we can help you arrange this.
- A genuine passion for animal conservation.
- Ability to work independently as well as in a team.
- Flexible schedule that accounts for the day to day needs of working with a local institution.
- Physical ability to work outdoors with potentially high sun, element, and temperature exposure.
- Ability to independently collect and register data. You will train with team members during your first week and thereafter, may monitor with team members or partner up with another project volunteer and monitor and collect data following your training. This will be explained in further detail during your induction session.
Accommodation is provided by one of our carefully selected host families or in our volunteer housing. In both types of housing, volunteers have their own room, a fan, bed, desk, dresser, and bathroom, as well as warm water and drinking water. In our volunteer housing, breakfast is not included, but you have access to our fully equipped kitchen facilities to cover your needs. Lunch and dinner is provided at your choice of various restaurants in town, which are usually open-air seating with local cuisine. You simply sign for your meal and we’ll pick up the bill at the end of the month.
Our host families have experience with outside culture and international living and provide an amazing immersion experience. All host family houses are nearby the IOI offices and the local schools in the beach town of Puerto Villamil. Homes are fairly simple, clean, and welcoming. You will have breakfast and dinner with your family. Lunch is at the above mentioned restaurants.
We at IOI pair you with your host family, and we are available at any time to help if any issues arrive with the restaurants, your host family, the volunteer site, if you get sick and need to visit the doctor, etc.
The program fee is necessary to cover your cost of living and logistics. Our overhead is covered by other means so 100% of any funds that exceed your direct cost will go towards the project you participated in.
To book you need to pay a Reservation Deposit.
That deposit WILL BE DEDUCTED from your program fee.
Cost includes food, full room and board, permits, Transient visa, local coordination and training at respective facility, local transport, full access to our facilities, etc.—everything minus personal expenses, travel insurance, and your airfare to Galápagos.