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Oceans 2 Earth

Coastal Sea Turtle Research

Manabi, Ecuador

Help to collect important data about this critically endangered species.

The program

The collection of biological data is extremely important to this organisation in light of the urgent need to obtain information to conserve Ecuador’s ecosystems and marine resources, in particular, sea turtles. 

Until very recently it was believed that Hawksbill turtles only nested in the coasts of Central America. However, in 2008 this organisation found that this critically endangered species also nests in the beaches of Ecuador’s Coastline. Since then, with the aid of volunteers, research has been undertaken to learn more about this enigmatic creature and its presence in Ecuador. Other turtles that can be found in the area are green turtles, leatherbacks, hawksbills and olive-ridley turtles.

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 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. 

There are two official languages spoken in Ecuador. The most common one is Spanish introduced by the Spanish invaders some 480 years ago. The other one, Quechua was also a foreign tongue brought by the earlier invaders, the Incas. Quechua is mostly spoken by rural indigenous people in remote regions of the Andes and Amazon. There are also several other languages spoken by various Amazon tribes.

Our volunteers

You will dedicate most of your time to biological data collection and dissemination that is of great importance for the projects carried out by this organization. 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. Your input is imperative since very little research has been done on Ecuador's coasts regarding the quantity and frequency of sea turtle nests. 

The work is interesting and unique and is very hands on during rescues and releases. You will forge friendships that may last a lifetime while you directly contribute towards the conservation of this incredible region of the world.

Prior studies in Biology, Marine Biology, Ecology, Environmental Sciences or related sciences are preferable but not essential; however, it is necessary that you have experience with elementary statistical analyses and the capacity to learn field sampling techniques and know how to apply them in the field satisfactorily. More importantly, candidates must have the capacity to learn field sampling techniques and know how to apply them in the field satisfactorily. Research Assistants are trusted with the review and analysis of the data collected in the field, therefore it is necessary that the candidates have experience with elementary statistical analyses, for example, creating tables, bar charts and histograms.

Conditions on site

The project's activities are effected 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.

Please note

The first installment 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

Daily tasks may include

  • Field sampling 
  • Statistical analysis 
  • Collecting data, analysing and entering results 
  • Coordinating small research projects
  • Undertaking environmental education activities 
  • Camping and patrolling beaches during the day and night
  • Walking beaches collecting trash 
Every volunteer must contribute with the maintenance and cleaning of the Volunteer House and field equipment.

Details on Arrival

We welcome our volunteers Mondays through Fridays all through the year.

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’s 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 Manteña civilisation dating from 500 BC – 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
Climbing
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). Of course, there is an exception for children that are accompanied by their parents.
Language Skills
You need to speak English (basic level)
Health Declaration
required
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.
The ability to learn sampling techniques and to apply them satisfactorily in the field, to learn and to put in practice statistical concepts, to learn how to collect data and to enter it into a data base.
Leadership skills to coordinate small research projects and to assist with the execution of projects.
A willingness to learn about the environment and the local people.
The ability to work in the hot sun.
Time Commitment
Regular working hours are hardly predicable. It mainly depends on the work force. Get in touch with Oceans 2 Earth straight ahead to get more infos about current to dos and objectives.

Suitable for

Singles
Couples
Families
Groups
50+

Any questions? Just ask. We at Oceans 2 Earth are happy to help you.

Contact Project Coordinator
Contact & Reservation
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Included Services

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Our services are free of charge!
All program fees are charged directly by Oceans 2 Earth.
Services by Oceans 2 Earth
  • 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
  • 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
  • No meals are included, however kitchen facilities are available in the volunteer house. Fresh seafood is available at the market daily.

  • Please note that the first installment of your program fees ($495 AUD) is due within one week after having paid the deposit on Volunteer World.
Airport Pickup at Mariscal Sucre International Airport

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. 

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

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)
$1,040.00
5 weeks
$1,230.00
6 weeks
$1,425.00
7 weeks
$1,615.00
8 weeks
$1,805.00
9 weeks
$2,000.00
10 weeks
$2,190.00
11 weeks
$2,380.00
12 weeks (max. stay)
$2,575.00
Average fees
$237.00/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 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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