Volunteer in Sea Turtle Conservation in Costa Rica

Cause Areas


It's flexible! We'll work with your schedule.


LASTPlaya Blanca, Osa 496-1100CR


Latin American Sea Turtles Association (LAST) is member of the Wider Caribbean Sea turtle Conservation Network (WIDECAST), an international scientific network in more than 40 countries and territories of the Wider Caribbean Region working to improve the status of of endangered sea turtles.

LAST is looking for new volunteers or research assistants for our sea turtles conservation projects on the Pacific (Osa In-water Project) and the Caribbean (Pacuare nesting beach projects).

Osa In-Water Sea Turtle Project

The project is located on Playa Blanca, close to Puerto Jiménez on the Osa Peninsula in the southern Pacific province of Puntarenas, Costa Rica. Osa Peninsula is a natural paradise, being home to a vast variety of mammals, birds, amphibians, reptiles and insects. The Golfo Dulce, one of the four tropical fiords worldwide, hosts additionally a fascinating marine life - including sea turtles. Since 2010, Osa In-Water project has worked to better understand the dynamics of the local sea turtle populations, genetic origin and in-water habitat use and threats. LAST works mainly with hawksbill and green sea turtles.

How Volunteers Help

Volunteers play an important role in supporting our scientists and research assistants in our field work. Volunteers will assist with in-water monitoring of foraging sea turtles. Surveys will be conducted twice a week and will consist of capture/recapture of turtles using nets. Turtles will be checked over, biometric data collected, tagged and tissue samples for genetic studies collected. Volunteers will be asked to help with: preparing nets for capture, detect captured turtles and untangling captured sea turtles and deployed nets (snorkeling required), lifting sea turtles into the boat, keep sea turtles calm and humid while aboard, measuring turtles, transporting field equipment, keeping materials tidy on boat, and properly recording scientific data. Volunteers will also help out with the following in the rescue and rehabilitation center: ensure proper water quality (water change), clean tanks, properly lift and hold sea turtles if needed, help remove barnacles, record scientific data.

In addition to directly working with sea turtles, volunteers will participate in the mangrove reforestation program. Mangroves play a very important role in the coastal ecosystems of de Golfo Dulce and provide substantial benefits to sea turtles and other wildlife. Volunteers will help by looking for seeds to sow in our nursery and replant them once they reach a certain size as well as other tasks within the nursery. Monitoring of sea grass beds is also an important element of the project; however, this is usually only done when there are enough volunteers and very low times. If you have any prior experience in these areas please apply to be a research assistant.

Pacuare Nesting Beach Project

The project is located in the northern Caribbean province of Limon, Costa Rica. Surrounded by beautiful nature, Pacuare beach is very remote, only accessible by boat, and it is a very important nesting site for leatherback, green and occasionally hawksbill turtles. This conservation project works together with the local community and volunteers to protect these critically endangered animals. LAST searches for alternative livelihoods for coastal communities in order to decrease the need for poaching sea turtles and their eggs and thus achieve a long term sustainable sea turtle management.

How Volunteers Help

From March through October each year, volunteers will assist experienced parol leaders on night patrols. This includes walking different sectors o the 7.1 km of nesting beach to search for nesting females. An average night patrol will take at least 4 hours but can last longer in case of sea turtle encounters. Volunteers will assist collecting and recording biometric data and sometimes nest relocation. Volunteers will aslo help care for any turtles recuperating at the Rescue center and help tiny hatchlings on their way from the nest to reach the ocean safely. Apart from the turtle related work, volunteers will participate in beach cleaning events and will be asked to help out with cooking, cleaning and general upkeep and maintenance of the station. Even after the turtles have stopped nesting and the last of the nests have hatched, volunteers are welcome to join us from November until February, to ensure that the project is ready for the new season, which includes project maintenance, gardening and hatchery construction, among other important activities.

During free time, volunteers can swing in a hammock, read a book, enjoy the beach, go kayaking or discover nature and animals by exploring the surrounding area. The best way for having an extraordinary experience as a volunteer in Pacuare is to be open minded to the people, the work and the different life style at the beach. Far away from modern life facilities, Pacuare has no electricity, internet, traffic and shops and volunteers can really get back to nature and wake up to the sound of the ocean and birds singing. Observing sea turtles coming ashore and laying eggs is an amazing and once in a lifetime experience.

Additional Information

Volunteers: Minimum stay: 7 nights/ 8 days. Research Assitants: 3 months

Volunteers: from $40/night/person plus insciption fee (if applicable). Research Assitants:US$ 0 - 10/night, depending on the skills and experience of the applicant. Preferably, applicants should have an academic background in biology/environmental or conservation sciences/veterinary medicine, speak Spanish and English, and be open minded.

If you have any further questions please do not hesitate to contact us volunteers@latinamericanseaturtles.org!


  • Research
  • Environmental Policy
  • Environmental Science
  • Habitat Restoration

Good Match For

Teens People 55+ Group

Requirements & Commitment

  • minimum one week, (7 nights, 8 days)
  • open minded and flexible attitude
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