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    Animal Experience International: Sea Turtle Conservation in Costa Rica

    Animal Experience International: Sea Turtle Conservation in Costa Rica


    • Listing Type: Gap Year Programs
    • Program Delivery: Residential
    • Destinations: Costa Rica
    • Credit Awarded: None
    • Program Length: One Week, Two Weeks, Four Weeks, Three Weeks
    • Start Month: January, February, March, April, May, June, July, August, September, October, November, December
    • Category: Environmental Conservation
    • Selective: No
    • Gender: Coed
    • Ages: 16, 17, 18, 19+, 19
    • Housing: Homestay
    • Affiliation: Gap Year Association
    • Financial Aid: Not Available
    • Minimum Cost: $1,000 - $2,999
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    Volunteer with this Sea Turtle Conservation Centre located on the beautiful Osa Peninsula in Costa Rica! The organization helps with the study and conservation of sea turtles and their habitat in the region. The programs include an in-water sea turtle monitoring and research study, a small rescue and rehabilitation centre to treat injured turtles, a mangrove reforestation program and a sea grass monitoring project.

    Helping Sea Turtles in Costa Rica

    Nearly all species of sea turtles are endangered – their numbers dropping due to poaching and over- exploitation, climate change and pollution, habitat destruction, accidental capture in fishing gear and trauma from boats.

    Our partner organization in Costa Rica helps sea turtles through conservation, research, sea turtle rescue and rehabilitation. This organization is composed of an expert network of biologists, managers, community leaders and educators who are committed to the recovery and sustainable management of sea turtle populations that are dangerously low in number.


    Volunteers provide help with all the programs carried out at the Osa location. On Ocean Days, volunteers will spend the day out on the boat, and on the beach. Nets are carefully placed in the water and once a turtle is caught, volunteers help bring it to the beach where it is measured, tagged, and samples taken. The turtle is then released back to the ocean. Volunteer duties include helping to carry material and field equipment to and from the boat, preparing and organizing the nets, untangling deployed nets, watching deployed nets to detect sea turtles, measuring and recording scientific data, and restraining and carrying the sea turtles.

    Mangroves play a very important role in coastal ecosystems. Unfortunately, the majority of the mangrove forests along the coast have been destroyed, negatively impacting the wildlife. On Mangrove Days volunteers are asked to help with the reforestation project.  Volunteer duties include the collection of seeds and propagules, gathering mud for the seeds and seedlings, sowing and planting seeds and juvenile plants in their natural habitat and maintenance work at the nursery.

    When sick or injured sea turtles are being treated at the Rescue and Rehabilitation Centre, volunteers help with their care. Volunteer duties include changing tank water, cleaning tanks, restraining and carrying sea turtles, monitoring the patients’ progress and measuring and recording scientific data.

    Sea grass monitoring takes place every three months. Sea grass meadows are crucial to the health of the ecosystem as well as providing food for the Pacific Green sea turtles. Volunteers who are at the project during one of the monitoring periods are asked to help count the blades and leaves of different species of sea grass in an effort to monitor their status.

    Volunteers normally work from 7:45 am to 3 pm on Ocean Days, and 8 am to 4 pm on Mangrove Days, with an hour off for lunch.

    Volunteers have one day off per week, which is organized at the project.

    You will be staying with a host family that has committed to sea turtle conservation and is closely associated with the project. AEI volunteers stay in the Black Sea Turtle Accommodation, less than 1 km from the main project site and the beach. Volunteers stay in a cabin or room with up to four other volunteers (of the same gender). There are western bathrooms that are shared between a few volunteers.

    Three delicious traditional meals are provided each day.

    There is no internet available at the centre or at your accommodation. Volunteers can travel to Puerto Jiménez, the closest small town, to spend time in the internet cafes, visit the markets and restaurants or just explore.


    Airport pick up and drop off (at the closest airport), accommodation, meals, on-site training, donation to Placement Partner, AEI Travel Manual, emergency support while at placement, carbon credits to offset 3 tonnes of greenhouse gas emissions, premium Individual Travel Insurance (up to $500, 000 USD in emergency medical coverage), 24/7 travel and emergency assistance, enrolment with the Global Travel Academy to earn a certificate in international volunteering. This 3-hour online course is curated by travel professionals and is designed to help you get the most out of your adventure. 

    Does not include:

    Flights, entry visa costs (if applicable), international and domestic airport taxes, immunizations and medications (if needed).