Global Nomadic

In-Water Sea Turtle Conservation Assistant

Osa Peninsula, Costa Rica show on map

Agency | Global Nomadic

The goal of this programme is to protect and help the turtles while at the same time educating and involving the local community. This volunteer program is especially suitable for:

The Dulce Gulf, meaning the Sweet Gulf is located off the Osa peninsula, one of 25 biodiversity hotspots worldwide. In fact, the Dulce Gulf is one of only four tropical fjords in existence. Yet very little is known about this place and its inhabitants, which include macaws, monkeys, dolphins, whales and of course sea turtles. This astoundingly beautiful area is the home of this important In-water Sea Turtle Conservation programme. The international NGO running this programme has been working for over two decades together with scientists, conservationists and educators to promote sustainable sea turtle projects in the wider Caribbean region.

The programme focuses on carrying out in-water studies of the Hawksbill and Eastern Pacific Green Turtles. Because of the unique biological characteristics of sea turtles, the marine conservation efforts surrounding them is very complex, challenging to predict and requires a long-term commitment. The goal of this programme is to protect and help the turtles while at the same time educating and involving the local community, which in turn will generate an alternative and sustainable source of income for local families.

Sea turtles spend a large part of their long lives migrating between nesting and foraging areas. These foraging areas often include both young and adult turtles, as they can sometimes also be habitats for nesting. As a result, the quality of these areas is of critical importance. Despite this, very little is in fact known about the habitats and their use, since most conservation efforts are focused solely on nesting beaches. The in-water studies consist of entering 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 data is used to assess the types of threats to which sea turtles are exposed to in the area.

This programme also runs a rescue and rehabilitation centre, as well as a mangrove reforestation effort. Studies are also carried out on the health of the off-shore sea grass bed, which is an important feeding habitat for many species, turtles included.

In-Water Sea Turtle Monitoring

It is important to remember that sea turtles always come first. This may mean working long, hard hours under hot and humid conditions; but in the end, it is worth it!

In-water monitoring surveys will be conducted at least twice a week (weather permitting) for about 6 hours at a time. Before setting out, the boat has to be prepared and you will be needed to help make sure all the necessary equipment is ready and on board. Once a sea turtle is caught, you will help take biometric data, tag and collect tissue and blood samples if needed. Depending on the condition of the turtle it will either be taken back to the rescue centre or released immediately back into the water.

Rescue Centre

The rescue centre was built to treat injured or sick turtles encountered during the in-water monitoring work or nearby beaches. When a sick or injured turtle is admitted to the centre, you will assist staff in evaluating the patient, recording data and helping stabilize the turtle. Other general duties in the centre include preparing food and feeding the turtles, changing water and cleaning holding tanks as well maintaining the centre tidy and clean at all times.

Mangrove Reforestation

Mangroves play a very important role in the coastal ecosystems on the Pacific coast of Costa Rica and their rapid decline is a major cause of concern, not only for the sea turtles, but for the many other species they benefit as well.
Duties involved with this work include:

  • Looking for seeds
  • Gathering mud for plants and seedlings
  • Sowing seeds in the plant nursery
  • Planting propagules in the designated reforestation areas
  • Maintaining plant nursery

Sea Grass Monitoring

Sea grass meadows are a crucial reason as to why we find sea turtles in the area and they are one of the most productive ecosystems on earth.  As a part of the programme you will help to monitor the health status of these beds. Monitoring activities carried out will depend on local conditions.
During your time off from the conservation work, you can enjoy the beautiful surroundings of the Osa peninsula, a biodiversity hotspot in Costa Rica. Due to the absence of strong currents and waves, the water is perfect for swimming and snorkeling. The nearest town is 30 minutes away from the programme, where you will find a greater variety of amenities.

Details on Arrival

You will be given easy-to-follow instructions on how to get to the programme location from San José International Airport. The programme is located about 8 hours drive away from San Jose and goes through some of the highest points in Costa Rica so be sure to bring a warm sweater as it can be cold in places!

Airport pickup from San Jose International Airport can be arranged for $40.

You should budget $20 each way for transport by bus from San Jose to the project location.

Free-time activities


Program Requirements

In order to join the program you need to be at least 20 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 (intermediate level) and Spanish (intermediate level)
Education Requirements
Biology, Marine Biology, Resource Conservation, Ecology, Environmental Education, Veterinarian Medicine, Wildlife Management, Oceanography, Zoology and/or experience working with sea turtles. at University level
Nationality Restrictions
No restrictions. Helping hands from all over the world are welcome.
Other Skills
Good physical condition,
good swimmer,
conversational English and Spanish,
willing to commit for at least three months,
responsible, hard working, communicative and enthusiastic person,
willingness to share knowledge and stimulate volunteers' interest in sea turtle protection and conservation,
capable of living in rustic and basic living conditions under adverse climatic conditions.
Time Commitment
Regular working hours are hardly predicable. It mainly depends on the work force. Get in touch with Global Nomadic straight ahead to get more infos about current to dos and objectives.

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 Global Nomadic cancels your trip
Support & Mediation
We cover your back no matter what happens
Our services are free of charge!
All program fees are charged directly by Global Nomadic.

Before your journey

Profound consulting and ongoing support (free)
Global Nomadic (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 Global Nomadic
  • all food
  • accommodation
  • orientation
  • theoretical and practical training
  • in-country support
  • project related activities
  • US$ 10 per day project fee depending upon experience.
    All payments incur a 5% bank transfer fee.
You will be staying 200 meters from the project base and staff house, in basic dorm style rooms shared with other interns. The project will provide local ingredients, but interns are responsible for cooking their own meals in addition to performing housekeeping and gardening duties. You will all take turns to cook and clean whilst living in a communal environment.
Dorm Room
Food & Beverages
Internet Access
Sorry, no access at the project site
What's NOT included?
Visa, flights, travel insurance or vaccinations are NOT included in the program fees. An airport pickup isn't included within the program fees either.
Flight Tickets
The nearest airport is Juan Santamaria International Airport (SJO) in San Jose. We assist you to find cheap flights to Costa Rica.
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.
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.
Costs: Prices in USD
12 weeks (min. stay)
$ 900
13 weeks
$ 975
14 weeks
$ 1,050
15 weeks
$ 1,125
19 weeks
$ 1,425
27 weeks
$ 2,025
50 weeks (max. stay)
$ 3,750
Average fees
$ 75 /week

You can volunteer at the project site in Osa Peninsula/Costa Rica between 12 weeks and 50 weeks. Please note that the above shown program fees are estimated and subject to exchange rate fluctuations. Global Nomadic 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 Costa Rica.
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 Global Nomadic during the application process. Common solutions are either via bank transfer or a cash payment at the project site.

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