Sea Turtle Preservation Volunteer

WIDECAST - Limón, Costa Rica
Quick Facts: Placement ID: IND-290 Location: Limón, Costa Rica Sector: Wildlife and the Environment Category: Animals and Wildlife Min Duration: 2 weeks Lodging: Host Family / Lodge Language: Basic Placement Fee: 50 USD
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Volunteer Job Description

Between March and November volunteers, international research assistants and local research assistants of the community of Pacuare, patrol the beach in three sectors ( 2.4 km each). There are two shifts, from 8 pm to 12 am and 12 am to 4 am. It takes at least 4 hours to patrol the beach effectively and if nesting turtles are found, their eggs are collected and relocated to the hatchery.

Turtle duties are done following official protocol which involves tagging, taking bio-metric and other important data of the turtle. Sea Turtle Volunteers will help former poachers, (now trained in the numerous techniques for turtle conservation), to carry out this detailed work. Volunteers will also be responsible for tending the nests in the hatchery and be involved in the releasing of baby turtles into the ocean.

Volunteers at this sea turtle conservation site at Pacuare beach do not need to have any specific skills, however a background in biology or environmental science would be an asset and/or experience working outdoors.

Volunteer Tasks Required

Night Patrols

Volunteers will walk areas of the beach to protect turtles/eggs from poachers and predators. Staff from the organization will always accompany each sea turtle volunteer group. The reason why volunteers are important to help with this job is because poachers try to gather the eggs or turtles during the night; so if there is a large patrol of people watching the shoreline the poachers will not approach the site as they know it is illegal to hunt sea turtles.

Night patrol duties, led by an experienced patrol leader, also includes searching for nesting females, and when found appropriate action is taken.

Eggs Reallocation

Sea turtle eggs are considered a delicacy and if not brought to the hatchery to be monitored they can easily be eaten by other animals or taken by poachers.

After the turtles have laid their eggs on the beach, the sea turtle volunteers and staff will take the eggs and reallocate them to the hatchery. There volunteers on shift have built nests, (according to specifications) and the eggs are then transplanted into the nests.

The number of eggs, nest location and turtle identification information,(tag number) is then recorded for further data analysis including survival rate.

Hatchery Responsibilities

Sea turtle volunteers help keep the hatchery clean and at all times assist in protecting the hatchery from animals and poachers. They also assist in building nests, (according to specifications) for the new arrival of turtle eggs. The approximate incubation time for turtle eggs is 60 days, therefore midway through the season the duties of the hatchery attendants increases as the eggs hatch. When a nest of eggs begins to hatch this event must be immediately reported by the volunteer to the program coordinator.

Turtle Release

The newborn turtles need constant attention to ensure that they are continuously hydrated until they are released. The newborn turtles must be counted and then released in the evening to an appropriate location along the high tide line. They then are watched until they reach the water and are swimming safely. Newborn turtles should never be released directly into the water.


On night patrols it is important to help the program coordinator with bio-metric measurements of the adult turtles and to keep a record of the turtles found during the night.

It is also important to identify and account for turtle tracks on the beaches.

Sea turtle volunteers will document how many sea turtles are born and how many die so that the park's records remain current in monitoring success rates.

Construction and Maintenance

Volunteers will help with general maintenance and repairs to hatcheries and help with the construction of new hatcheries when and if necessary.

Every sea turtle season a new hatchery must be built in order to confirm that the area has the right temperature for eggs to hatch. Also during the rainy season some of the hatcheries need frequent maintenance.

Beach Clean up

Sea turtle volunteers will help with beach clean up at least once a week to pick up the garbage and disposable items in the area. It is important to keep the beach clean and free from trash for obvious reasons but also so that turtles will not find any obstacles on their journey to the right place to lay their eggs.

Host Organization Details


WIDECAST is an International Scientific Network with, "Country Coordinators," residing in more than 40 countries and territories of the Wider Caribbean Region. This includes Costa Rica where their office is centrally located in Tibas, just outside of the bustling capital city of San José. This ideal location enables their staff to maintain contact with community partners and international sponsors alike. In addition, they conduct many volunteer programs and pursue innovative research in conservation, conduct conservation seminars and training plus other livelihood initiatives in Costa Rica and beyond.

Their main focus in recent years has been community-based sea turtle conservation programs. On their Caribbean Coast, this includes nesting beach studies at Playa Pacuare (Pacuare Beach) and Playa Cahuita (Cahuita National Park), as well as, In-Water population monitoring at Cahuita National Park. On their Pacific Coast, nesting beach studies are at Playa Carate, Pejeperro and Río Oro on the Osa Peninsula. Further north, a study of how local fisheries affect marine turtle populations in the vicinity of the Ostional National Wildlife Refuge is being conducted.

GOALS: 1) Improve the conservation status of the marine turtles and their critical habitats. 2) Provide support, training and advice regarding marine conservation to all governments in Caribbean Countries, with emphasis in Costa Rica. 3) Elaborate on environmental studies and planning initiatives, using the best available scientific resources. 4) Contribute to the advancement of general knowledge about nature, especially in Costa Rica and the Caribbean, through the creation and distribution of various informative materials by any means that the organization determines. For example, the execution of training programs and courses, as well as, other technology informative platforms. 5) Lead in research studies about the biology of marine organisms, especially marine turtles. 6) Continue to seek new initiatives in conservation matters. Systematize and evaluate all experiences related to these topics. 7) Collaborate and participate in national and regional programs aimed to improve the knowledge about the issues established by the governments or their communities, as well as, members of the general public. 8) Elaborate and develop programs for the improvement of socio-economic conditions of certain groups or regions that may require this assistance. One of the methods for conflict solving around nature conservation issues. 9) Promote models for the conservation of natural resources based on community participation. 10) Develop fundraising activities with the sole purpose of achieving the self-sustainability of conservation activities, such as: sale of locally produced handcrafts and other related activities, ecotourism activities and the operation of the volunteer program.

Does this organization have any religious affiliations?

When They Were Founded

The Wider Caribbean Sea Turtle Conservation Network (WIDECAST) is an international scientific network founded in Santo Domingo (Dominican Republic) in 1981 to ensure the survival of six species of Caribbean sea turtles. The network is comprised of Country Coordinators in more than 40 Caribbean nations and territories.

During the celebrations of World Environment Day on 5 June 1990 in Mexico City, the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) honored 78 laureates from around the world by including them in “The Global 500: The Roll of Honour for Environmental Achievement.” Among those selected was Milton M. Kaufmann, Founder and coordinator for several years of the Wider Caribbean Sea Turtle Conservation Network (WIDECAST), an international scientific organization.

Col. Kaufmann has founded other visionary organizations over the years, including Monitor Consortium-USA (a coalition of 33 wildlife conservation and animal welfare groups) and Monitor International (founded in 1978 for the worldwide protection of natural areas and endangered and threatened wildlife).

For nearly a decade Monitor International served as the lead non-government organization working towards the adoption by Wider Caribbean governments of a Protocol to the UNEP Cartagena Convention concerning Specially Protected Areas and Wildlife (SPAW Protocol), a comprehensive international agreement providing substantial regional protection for sea turtles and other threatened species.

On the occasion of this 90th birthday in October 2008, WIDECAST Country Coordinators, friends and partner organizations from more than forty nations contributed to a Memory Book filled with sentiments describing what WIDECAST has meant to them and to the development of sea turtle conservation, research and management in their countries over the years.

The WIDECAST network benefited tremendously in its early years not only from Col. Kaufmann’s vision, but also from the skills of its first Coordinators: Dr. Peter Pritchard, Dr. James Richardson and Dr. Nat Frazer.

How Are They Funded

WIDECAST does not receive funds from the government but they receive funds from their worldwide office and private donors. They charge a registration fee per volunteer to be used as funds for their projects in Costa Rica.

Donation Requests

The types of donations requested are: shovels, seeds, rain jackets, rubber boots and red light flashlights.

Placement Location Information

Limón, Costa Rica

Pacuare Beach Sea Turtle Project is located at a remote are with a basic living condition at the project site. They do not have electricity, phones, cars because there is no road to the project, shops and other facilities that modern life facilities offers but the project enriches the quality of an extraordinary experience and allow the volunteer to connect with nature, creating the best environment for making a difference of the sea turtles.

The center has 4 little wooden houses, one of them is the office for the administration staff and storage of the tools for the project, the second house is the little kitchen, dinning room and the dorm for the kitchen staff, the third house is for the program coordinator and last house is for volunteers and everything is located in front of the Costa Rican Caribbean Sea.

Transfer From BaseCamp

From BaseCamp house, take a bus to San Jose at 7:30 am and get off at the last bus stop. Turn to the right and walk 5 blocks until Caribeños Bus Station.

Get a ticket to Bataan, the bus leaves at 9:00 and it will take 2 1/2 hous to Bataan. At the bus stop in town a member fo the organization will be waiting to continue with the trip, a taxi to the dock to take a little boat that will last 45 minutes to get to the Sea Turtle Project.

Distance & Time

Distance from BaseCamp: 254 km
Travel Time from BaseCamp: 6:30

Weather in the Area

The climate is warm, and humid. The seasons are somehow different as in the rest of the country. Which makes the area a beautiful alternative for the months September and October, when it rains a lot in the rest of the country but not necessarily so in Limón. The average day-time temperatures are between 25 and 30 Degrees Celsius. The nights are cool and refreshing. The constant breeze from the Atlantic Ocean helps, and there are no extreme temperatures during the different seasons.

City/Village Description

Puerto Limón, commonly known as Limón (Spanish for "lemon"), is the capital city and main hub of Limón province, as well as of the cantón (county) of Limón in Costa Rica. It has a population of about 60,000 (including surrounding towns), and is home to a thriving Afro-Caribbean community. Part of the community traces its roots to Jamaican laborers who worked on a late nineteenth-century railroad project that connected San José to Puerto Limón. Other parts of the population trace their roots to the Nicaraguan, Panamanian, and Colombian turtle-hunters who eventually settled along the Province of Limón's coast. Until 1948, the Costa Rican government did not recognize Afro-Caribbean people as citizens and restricted their movement outside Limón province. As a result of this "travel ban", this Afro-Caribbean population became firmly established in the region, which influenced the decision to not move even after it was legally permitted. The Afro-Caribbean community speaks Spanish and Limonese Creole, a creole of English.

Puerto Limón contains two port terminals, Limón and Moín, which permit the shipment of Costa Rican exports (primarily bananas) as well as the anchoring of cruise ships. Health care is provided for the city by Hospital Dr. Tony Facio Castro. A small island, Uvita Island, is just offshore.

Situated in the middle part or the Atlantic or Caribic Coast, beween the cantones Talamanca and Matina. The land is even with numerous rivers that communicate to channels of Tortuguero. The territory is covered with thick vegetation during the whole year. The climate is ideal for trees and palm trees and there are endless plantations of bananas, cocoa, yuca, frijoles, and coconut.

Nearest Medical Clinic

Clinic of Bataan
250 meters north from Catholic Church
TEL 1: 506 2799-6500
TEL 2: 506 2718-1171

Placement Address

Pacuare Beach
Costa Rica

Accommodation and Meals

All of our volunteers begin their stay in Costa Rica at our BaseCamp Center in San Jose. Given that this placement is more than a 1 hour 15 minute commute from BaseCamp, volunteers here will be living with a host family after your orientation. Living with a host family is an awesome experience for a person looking to really experience Costa Rica and its culture.

The following information outlines a brief description of life at BaseCamp and also what someone can expect living with a host family in Costa Rica.

If you think that living with a host family is not for you, then this placement might not be the best fit with what you are looking for. You should try completing our application. It's totally free and will allow our team in Costa Rica to come up with a list of exactly which placements they would reccommend for you based on your personal preferences, background, skills and interests.

BaseCamp Costa Rica

BaseCamp Costa Rica
BaseCamp Costa Rica Address

Ave 16 St. 39&41
Los Yoses Sur
San Jose, Costa Rica

BaseCamp Costa Rica Contact Details

Tel: 506-8763-9595
Tel: 506-4030-1891
Mobile: 506-8763-9595

Take a Tour of BaseCamp
Accommodation in Costa Rica

All volunteers on our program in Costa Rica start out at our BaseCamp Center. The center is located in the capital city San Jose, and is a fantastic place from which to start your adventure.

Once volunteers have finished their orientation, where they live depends largely on the location of their placement. If their placement is more than a 1 hour 15 minutecommute from BaseCamp, then the only accommodation option may be host families or volunteer lodges in the national parks. However, if the placement is within a 1 hour 15 minute commute, then volunteers can choose whether or not to stay with us at BaseCamp or live with a host family.

BaseCamp Costa Rica is located in the province of San Jose at Los Yoses area. This is a fantastic area closed to the University of Costa Rica, San Pedro Mall, banks, supermarkets, restaurants, embassies and stores. Walking distance to down town and only 30 minutes away from the Juan Santamaria Airport.

BaseCamp has four bedrooms and three wash-rooms. The beds are mainly bunk beds in dormitory style rooms. Pillows, sheets and blankets are provided. There is a large common area where movies, books and games are available to our guests and there is a patio with a nice set up. This is an ideal setting for reading, studying Spanish or just some quiet relaxation.

BaseCamp is where volunteers first come when they arrive in Costa Rica and where they live for at least the duration of their orientation and training. The meal plan at the centre is based on a 14 day rotating schedule of a variety of traditional dishes from around the country. This meal plan allows volunteers to gain comfort and familiarity with both Costa Rican food and meal etiquette before making the transition to living with a host family.

Orientation and language training sessions take place in the BaseCamp Center. Each day of orientation blends some workshops and lessons with a mixture of outings to explore and become familiar with transportation and knowledge regarding the city.

Living With a Host Family in Costa Rica

Living with a host family in Costa Rica is a fantastic way to gain a deep understanding of and appreciation for the people and customs of the country. Each home-stay will provide a bed and three meals per day for our volunteers. The majority of host families offer private rooms with only one or two volunteers living with the family.

In the case of a volunteer lodge or ranger station (which is often the only option for placements within a National Park), volunteers will be living in dormitory type accommodation and meals will be provided in a mess hall or dining area.

Living with a host family can greatly enhance your performance at your placement. For one, it will have a huge influence on the speed with which you gain familiarity with the local language. This, along with your deeper understanding of cultural practices and beliefs that you are likely to gain in this environment, can go a long way to improving or strengthening your relationships with your team mates at work. Furthermore, a significant percentage of our host families are closely affiliated with the organizations with which our volunteers work. As such, even the evening meal or hanging out around the house can become valuable time during which volunteers can share their ideas and continue their support of their host organization.

All of this being said, living with a host family is not for everyone. It is very important for volunteers to honor the house rules in their host family and to be punctual. Also, depending on how remote your placement location, host families can be very rustic. Our staff in country can give you a better idea of what exactly you can expect from a host family in any particular community. However, in general, if these things sound like they might pose a challenge for you, we strongly suggest that you look at a placement within commuting distance from BaseCamp Costa Rica.

How the Program Works

Our program structure and costing is completely flexible which lets our volunteers ensure that they only pay for exactly the degree of support that they want.

Option 1 - Free Services

Some volunteers prefer to coordinate their own accommodation, meals and other support while overseas.

Anyone is welcome to use our volunteer placement search tool to help in finding a placement that is well suited to their interests. Once someone finds a placement that they wish to work with, they are welcome to make all the rest of their arrangmeents on their own.

As well, our team of staff overseas are often able to offer a few helpful pointers for volunteers 'doing it on their own'. Just send us an email with your questions and we will put you in touch with our team abroad. We only ask that you keep your requests fairly general, as this type of advice is exactly how our team earn their living. :)

Option 2 - Placement Support - 250 USD

Other volunteers would like assistance in selecting and confirming their placement, but they plan to manage their own accommodation and other expenses on their own.

These volunteers have the option of choosing to only have our assistance with selecting and confirming their placement. This option also includes ongoing placement support while abroad, so a volunteer would be able to ask our team for help if things at their placement were not working out.

In providing Placement Support, our team works with each volunteer through email, telephone and either Skype or Google Hangouts, to ensure that each volunteer has a clear understanding of their placement options. Our in-country staff will put together a custom list of placement options for each volunteer that they believe are the most appropriate matches with the volunteer's background, skills and interests. Then each volunteer can work with our team both in Canada and abroad to go through each of the options and narrow-down their selection.

Option 3 - Full Program Support

For most volunteers who are volunteering for less than a year, they are looking for an option that includes their accommodation, meals, airport reception, country and program orientation and placement support. This is what our Program Fees are designed for.

We are proud of how over the years we have ensured that our program fees are amoungst the most reasonable of any program in the world while we continue to provide exceptional volunteer support both at home and abroad.

Our Program Fees and listings of what these do and do not include are listed below:

Program Fees

Program Fees - Costa Rica

  Registration Fee
  1 Week
  2 Weeks
  3 Weeks
  4 Weeks
  5 Weeks
  6 Weeks
  7 Weeks
  8 Weeks
  Additional Weeks

Costa Rica wildlife and conservation placements require an additional $7 USD per day fee to cover park fees and accommodation. All program fees are listed in US Dollars.

What is Included
  • Pre-Departure support
  • Placement consulation
  • Airport reception & transfer
  • 2 Day orientation
  • Accommodation (BaseCamp or host family)
  • Breakfast and dinner
  • Emergency & placement support

What is Not Included
    Before Departure
  • International flight
  • Travel medical insurance
  • Visa costs where required
  • Work permits where required
    While Overseas
  • Daily transportation to and from placement
  • Transport to airport on departure
  • Placement fees if requried

Placement Fee Alert

This placement has a placement fee!

In some cases, a placement will have to take on certain expenses in order to host a volunteer. For example, some medical internship placements take time away from paid medical staff to help with educational assistance. This has a cost that is compensated by a placement fee. In other cases, the organization may have to pay for additional equipment, energy consumption or other expense in order to put a volunteer to work.

In such cases, the organizaiton charges a fee. This fee is paid directly to the organization in cash on the ground.

One of the reasons that we keep this fee separate is so that volunteers who do not pay us for accommodation, meals etc (Program Fees), will see that they will still have to make this payment directly to the organizaiton upon their arrival.

The placement fee for this organization is: 50 USD

Program Dates


The following is a list of all months during which this placement is not available.

  • February
  • December

Our regularly scheduled program start dates are the first Friday of each month, every month of the year. We strongly recommend beginning your program on one of these dates as this will allow you to go through our orientation alongside other international volunteers.

If you would prefer, our application will also allow you to select a custom start date for your program. Keep in mind that there is an additional fee for a custom start date which ranges from 50 to 75 USD.

Feb 04, 2022 Mar 04, 2022 Apr 01, 2022
May 06, 2022 Jun 03, 2022 Jul 01, 2022
Aug 05, 2022 Sep 02, 2022 Oct 07, 2022
Nov 04, 2022 Dec 02, 2022 Jan 06, 2023
Feb 03, 2023 Mar 03, 2023 Apr 07, 2023
May 05, 2023 Jun 02, 2023 Jul 07, 2023
Aug 04, 2023 Sep 01, 2023 Oct 06, 2023
Nov 03, 2023 Dec 01, 2023 Jan 05, 2024


These dates are the day that volunteers should plan to arrive on the ground in country. We can accommodate arrivals in-country at any time day or night on these dates.

Give us a Call
Canada / USA 866-646-4693 (toll free)
UK 866-646-4693 (toll free)
Australia 866-646-4693 (toll free)
International 613-353-3000
Send us a Message