The Caretta Research Project is a volunteer-based hands on research, conservation and environmental education program that has been protecting loggerhead sea turtles on Wassaw NNWR since 1973. This ecotourism project invites the public to work along biologists as they conserve sea turtles.
Each year, groups of six volunteers (ages 15 and up) travel to the beaches of Wassaw National Wildlife Refuge near Savannah, Georgia for a full week (17 weeks each summer) to help monitor egg-laying and hatching activity and to collect data on the loggerhead turtles. (14 years old may come with an adult)
The Caretta Research Project (CRP) offers a unique opportunity for high school and college students to experience being part of a field research team. Field research in biology is often conducted in remote locations, where many amenities and luxuries are unavailable. At field sites, resources are often limited and day-to-day duties are shared among all members of the research team. For this reason, the success of field research projects requires that all members commit to the common goals of the research team.
Student volunteers with the CRP share two small, rustic cabins on a remote barrier island with other members of a field research team, which is lead by two sea turtle biologists. Basic conveniences are available through solar and generator power, well water and propane, all of which are limited and must be conserved by the research team. Day-to-day tasks are all communal, including cooking meals and cleaning the cabins. And, of course, all sea turtle research objectives depend on the involvement of all members of the research team.
Student volunteers agree to willingly participate in all activities related to the common goals of CRP field research teams, including:
- Conducting sea turtle research objectives
- Conserving resources (power, water and propane)
- Maintaining the cleanliness of research cabins
- Preparing communal meals
- Fostering an atmosphere of compassion and understanding within the team
- Having an awesome time learning about sea turtle biology and conservation!
- Community service hours are available to participants.