Oceans 2 Earth Volunteers

Coastal Sea Turtle Conservation

Manabi, Ecuador show on map

Help to protect this critically endangered species by doing beach patrols, helping in the hatchery and educating the community about the conservation projects.

The Project

Ecuador's uniquely diverse coastline makes it a favourable nesting area for sea turtles, and as a result, there are 4 different species of turtles that call it home. These are green turtles, leatherbacks, hawksbills and olive-ridleys.

Despite their beauty and ecological importance, these gentle creatures are critically endangered.  Their nesting sites are being destroyed and over-fishing is depleting the oceans of food that is imperative for their survival.

The project was created in light of the urgent need to obtain information to conserve Ecuador’s ecosystems and marine resources, in particular, sea turtles. 

It is dependent upon the season how many turtles you will see. When they are active on land, you may be measuring and tagging the turtles, installing transmitters on their shells and for those who are enthusiastic, you will be capturing and recapturing tagged turtles in the ocean. It is possible that you may not see a turtle during your placement. 

In addition to turtle conservation, project staff and volunteers work with the community educating people from the surrounding areas about the conservation projects and the importance of respecting the environment. The project also operates a sea turtle egg hatchery program on one of the islands, the only one of its kind in Ecuador.

You are given an orientation session at the Quito office and a tour around Quito if you are staying in the city. At the project, you will receive an orientation and complete support and guidance while you are there. O2E are only a phone call or email away for any assistance you require.

The Location

The project is located in a small fishing village set in a bay on the coast of Ecuador. It is a prime turtle nesting location and quite possibly the most important area on the entire coast of Ecuador for turtle conservation. The beach is the focus of local life with fishermen mending their nets, courting couples, dolphins swimming in the bay, unaccompanied cows wandering along the shore and kids running down to play in the breakers at sunset. The beachside tree lined promenade is bustling with restaurants, cabanas and nightclubs. The climate is tropical and the average temperature is 26 degrees Celsius. 

The area is renowned for its coral reef and ecotourism activities and an ideal place from which to explore Machalilla National Park, an area classified as an ecological reserve and of archaeological importance. Machalilla National Park encompasses 55,000 hectares of land and two offshore islands, Isla de la Plata and Isla Salango. It constitutes the last remnants of dry tropical forest in Ecuador and is home to a rich variety of birdlife as well as some reptiles and mammals. Its fascination lies in the combination of desert, low-lying areas, beaches, bays and cliffs providing beautiful landscapes and endless photo opportunities. 

Our Volunteers

Sea turtles spend most of their lives in the ocean, but nest on beaches. At certain times of the year, when the tides and seasons align, the females abandon the security of the ocean and make their way up the beaches to lay their eggs. Sea turtles are very vulnerable on land, and even after a nest is successfully laid, it is still very susceptible to harm by humans. 

Through this volunteer program, you will gain an invaluable experience and share unforgettable moments with staff, the local people and with the biodiversity of Ecuador's coast. The work is interesting and unique and is very hands-on during rescues and releases.

Conditions Onsite

The project's activities are affected by the season. For example, nesting season usually begins in January so you may not find a laying turtle in order to count the eggs. It is not impossible though! Although project staff try their best to accomplish all tasks as scheduled, sometimes these cannot be carried out due to various factors (i.e. bad climate conditions). For this reason, we ask volunteers to be patient and understanding. 

With respect to turtle capture, we cannot always capture them as they are wild animals. The capture success depends on tides, climate conditions, and seasonality. It is rare, but possible, that you may not see a turtle.

Please Note

The first instalment of your project fees is due within 1 week after you paid the deposit on Volunteer World. This is a total of $495 AUD and comes off your balance. The balance is due 90 days prior to travel. For all further information about the fees, please scroll down to the section "Program Fees“.

Typical day

As a volunteer you may help with the following activities

  • Diurnal and nocturnal patrols of beaches 
  • Measurement and tagging of turtles
  • Egg counting and nest tagging
  • Egg transfers to an egg hatchery site 
  • Installation of transmitters on turtle shells
  • Telemetry activities on board a boat
  • Capture and recapture of turtles in the sea.

Monitoring nesting beaches

Throughout the nesting season, the staff and volunteers patrol the coasts of the park to learn the exact dates of the nesting season. They track numbers and locations of individual nests, count eggs, and determine hatching times. With these patrols, we hope to establish a clear idea of the population dynamics and reproductive success of the turtles.

When the nests are found, they are marked, protected, and constantly monitored. In May, the first hatchlings begin to emerge and make it safely to the sea!

On-board Monitoring

In the National Park sea turtles are frequently observed swimming freely in the coral reefs. However, little is known about these populations. To obtain a complete picture of the sea turtle population, it is also necessary to obtain data from the turtles in the ocean. To do this, the Environmental Ministry of Ecuador has allowed us to capture turtles at sea, take measurements, mark them, and release them back into the ocean. This information is vital to understanding their habitats and distribution, and recapture of marked individuals is especially helpful, as it helps us better understand the growth and development of the turtles.

Another objective of this activity is to determine whether the turtles are actually living in the reefs around the island, or simply passing through.

Every volunteer must contribute with the maintenance and cleaning of the Volunteer House and field equipment.

Details on Arrival

The project starts Mondays through Fridays all year long. We require volunteers to arrive in Quito at least 1 day early.

To get there,  fly into Quito. O2E will organise a compulsory orientation on Ecuador and the project. We will arrange your transport from the airport to your accommodation if required.

The bus trip from Quito to the coast is 10-12 hour, usually overnight.

Free-time activities

You can easily walk anywhere in town. That said, there's an abundance of motorcycle-powered "ecotaxis" that will take you anywhere in town for $1.50. 

There are plenty of travel opportunities along a coast of long deserted beaches, mangroves and coastal lowlands. It is also the country's agricultural centre with large plantations, especially bananas, dominating the inland plains. 

Transport along all this part of the coast is easy because there is only one road. Buses run either North or South, appear about every 30 minutes and you can flag one down or get off at any point you choose.

Visit the stunning and protected beaches of Los Frailes. Reputed to be the most beautiful beach in Ecuador and the star of countless posters, Los Frailes is 30 minutes away by bus. 

Visit the nearby Santa Elena Peninsula and Santa Clara Island provides the largest refuge for maritime birds in Ecuador and the tallest mangroves in the world are located along the Spondylus route, in the forest of Majagual in the Cayapas-Mataje Ecological Reserve in the province of Esmeraldas.

A day trip to Agua Blanca is a must! A small village inside the National Park is home to an excellent archaeological museum containing local ceramics, jewellery and domestic objects attributed to the Mantena civilisation dating from 500 BC to 1500 AD.

Isla de La Plata is a top spot for whale-watching as it is one of the primary sites in Ecuador for humpback whales.

For longer trips, take a bus to Guayaquil, Quito or take a guided nature trip deep into the virgin heart of the Amazon. Visit the mountainous region of the Andes where you find active volcanoes and crater lakes or for the more active traveller, you may try rafting, kayaking, trekking, mountain climbing, mountain biking, white water rafting or bird watching.

If you have time, a trip to the Galapagos Islands is sure to be memorable.

Swimming
Diving/Snorkling
Hiking
Museum/Opera
Sports

Program Requirements

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 (fluently)
Health Declaration
required
Required Documents
Proof of travel Insurance docs and Proof of vaccinations
Nationality Restrictions
No restrictions. Helping hands from all over the world are welcome.
Other Skills
A great interest towards environmental issues, especially in marine conservation,
A willingness to learn about the environment and the local people,
The ability to work on your own or as part of a team,
A predisposition to assist staff with environmental education activities,
The ability to work in the hot sun and within the water as well as patience and a great work ethic. A small amount of Spanish in order to communicate with the local people is desirable.
Time Commitment
Regular working hours are hardly predicable. It mainly depends on the work force. Get in touch with Oceans 2 Earth Volunteers straight ahead to get more infos about current to dos and objectives.

Suitable for

Singles
Couples
Families
Groups
50+

Included Services

Extra security layer by Volunteer World
Volunteer World is the world's leading comparison platform for international volunteer opportunities. We guide you through a safe and easy application process - including all necessary payments. Planning your next meaningful trip with Volunteer World gives you free access to our:
Quality Assurance
High ethical standards & transparent social impact
Flex Option
Change your reservation at no extra costs
Refund Guarantee
We refund your fees if Oceans 2 Earth Volunteers cancels your trip
Resolution Support
We cover your back no matter what happens
Our services are free of charge!
All program fees are charged directly by Oceans 2 Earth Volunteers.

Before your journey

Profound consulting and ongoing support (free)
Oceans 2 Earth Volunteers (your host organization) provides consulting and is keen to answer all your questions. Once you reserved your spot, you will receive the contact details of your volunteer project.
Online preparation course (optional, from $49)
Prepare yourself and become a confident and well informed traveler. Global Travel Academy takes you on a journey before you leave home, helping you to become one of the world's greatest travelers. Our trusted partner for online learning offers courses in "International Volunteering", "Travel Health & Safety" and "Travel Safety Abroad".

On-site services

Services by Oceans 2 Earth Volunteers

What's included in this project?

  • Pre-departure support
  • Project Information Pack
  • Informative orientation upon arrival on safety and a cultural introduction to Ecuador
  • 3 nights’ accommodation in Quito
  • Accommodation at the project
  • Meals (Quito homestay only)
  • Return bus transport from Quito city to the project
  • Project Orientation held in Quito
  • Training
  • Field coordinator
  • Field equipment and materials
  • Free internet access
  • International phone calls in case of emergency
  • Certificate of Participation, if requested
  • 24-hour in-country support
  • 24-hour O2E emergency phone
What's not included in this project?

  • Flights
  • Travel insurance
  • Meals (Quito hostel or apartment)
  • Meals at the project
  • Airport transfers from Quito airport to accommodations (O2E can arrange)
  • Transport from Quito to the project (O2E can arrange)
  • Personal spending money
  • Visas and entry permits

Airport Pickup at Mariscal Sucre International Airport

Fly into Quito where you will be picked up and taken to your accommodation. 

Accommodation

Shared rooms for 4 people in a volunteer house are located two blocks away from the beach front or at the sea turtle egg hatchery program location. 

Dorm Room
Internet Access
Limited access at the project site
What's NOT included?
Visa, flights, travel insurance or vaccinations are NOT included in the program fees. Food, snacks or beverages are at extra costs.
Flight Tickets
The nearest airport is Mariscal Sucre International Airport (UIO) in Quito. We assist you to find cheap flights to Ecuador.
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 Ecuador provides security and is a plus to have.
Vaccines
If you are intending to volunteer in Ecuador you should seek medical advice before starting your social journey. Check your required vaccinations for Ecuador.
Costs (Prices in USD)
4 weeks (min. stay)
$1,463.00
8 weeks
$2,889.00
12 weeks (max. stay)
$4,275.00
Average fees
$361.00/week

You can volunteer at the project site in Manabi/Ecuador between 4 weeks and 12 weeks. Please note that the above shown program fees are estimated and subject to exchange rate fluctuations. Oceans 2 Earth Volunteers will let you know about the final price during your application process.
Crowdfunding Service
Generally, volunteering abroad involves certain costs. In case you need financial support, we will assist you to fundraise your volunteer program in Ecuador.
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 must be made up to 30 days before to the volunteer program starts. This payment is also securely handled by PayPal or credit card.

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Reservation

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