Sea Turtle Preservation Volunteer

Equilibrio Azul - Pedernales, Ecuador
Quick Facts: Placement ID: IND-890 Location: Pedernales, Ecuador Sector: Wildlife and the Environment Category: Animals and Wildlife Min Duration: 4 weeks Lodging: BaseCamp or Host Family Language: Intermediate Placement Fee: 250 USD
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Volunteer Job Description

Until very recently it was believed that Hawksbill Turtles only nest in the coastal area of Central America. However, in 2008 the Equilibrio Azul, (EA) organization discovered that this species, which is critically endangered, also nests on some of the beaches inside of Machalilla National Park, (PNM), on Ecuador's Pacific Coast. Since then, EA with the aid of volunteers, has been doing research to learn more about this enigmatic creature and its distribution in Ecuador.

EA also carries out projects with Green Sea Turtles and Olive Ridley Turtles. There is also a sea turtle egg hatchery program at La Plata Island; the only one of its kind in Ecuador. The turtle projects require EA staff and volunteers to travel periodically to La Plata Island and stay there for approximately eight days at a time.

As a volunteer you would be expected to help with numerous sea turtle project activities, as well as other various chores that are required to maintain a national park.

Conservation volunteers at this sea turtle conservation site in Machalilla National Park, do not need to have any specific skills, however a background in biology or environmental science would be an asset. Volunteers must be agreeable to work outdoors in hot climatic conditions and be aware that this is a placement in a remote location so be prepared to live with few amenities.

Volunteer Tasks Required

Monitor Beaches

Throughout the entire nesting season, Equilibrio Azul personnel and conservation volunteers patrol the coasts of the park to learn: the exact dates of the nesting season, track numbers and locations of individual nests, count eggs, and determine hatching times. With these patrols, they hope to establish a clear idea of the population dynamics and reproductive success of the turtles.

Capture Turtles at Sea

In the Machalilla National Park, sea turtles are frequently observed swimming freely in the coral reefs. Little is known about this populations. To obtain a complete picture of the sea turtle, it is also necessary to get data from the turtles in the ocean. To do this, the Environmental Ministry of Ecuador has allowed the park staff to capture turtles at sea, take measurements, tag them and release them back into the ocean.

The information obtained through doing this procedure is vital in understanding their habitats and distribution. The recapture of tagged turtles is especially helpful, as it enables humans to better understand the growth and development of the turtles.

Egg Counting and Nest Tagging

One of the main activities in sea turtle conservation volunteering is the counting of the eggs and the tagging of the nests. Volunteers and staff would patrol the beaches to count turtles eggs and tag the nest of each turtle.

Additional Activities

In addition, conservation volunteers would be required to participate to a lesser extent, (40% of your time) in all the environmental activities that take place. For instance, participate in educational activities in community schools.

Host Organization Details

Equilibrio Azul

The organization was created due to the urgent need to obtain information to conserve Ecuador’s ecosystems and marine resources. Equilibrio Azul, (EA), works with the public, government, and business sectors to produce functional and collaborative solutions to conservation issues.

Volunteering is one of the most altruistic activities that exist, since you give your time and effort to contribute to a noble cause and not in exchange of a salary. In the case of Equilibrio Azul, their cause is the conservation of Ecuador's marine biodiversity. It is thanks to the aid of volunteers, who believe in the importance of marine conservation, that the organization can carry out their projects and let the world know about such projects.

Volunteers with EA, gain an invaluable experience, and share unforgettable moments with EA's staff, local people and with the biodiversity of Ecuador´s coast. Volunteers usually forge friendships that may last a lifetime and will directly contribute towards the conservation of Ecuador's marine biodiversity.

Equilibrio Azul experience with volunteers has shown the necessity to create different types of volunteer programs. EA has developed three types of programs that vary in their main activities but have some activities in common. Each type of volunteering is essential for the execution of EA's projects.

When They Were Founded

Equilibrio Azul is an non-for profit organization legally incorporated with the Ministry of Environment of Ecuador in December of 2004 with the goal to save Ecuadorian animals and the environment by creating projects with volunteers and staff. The organization was created in light of the urgent need to obtain information to conserve Ecuador’s ecosystems and marine resources. As well, the organization works with public, government, and business sectors who have competing interests to produce functional and collaborative solutions that bear conservation strongly in mind.

How Are They Funded

It is important to point out that EA is a non-for-profit organization whose mission is the conservation of Ecuador's marine ecosystems and resources. EA works under the guidelines of Ecuador's Ministry of Environment (In Spanish, MAE). This joint work between MAE and EA has allowed the achievement of important advances in terms of conservation.

Placement Location Information

Pedernales, Ecuador

La Plata Island is part of Machalilla National Park. It is 40 kilometers from the coast line. On the island you will find dry vegetation: desert tropical bushland and thorn steepe. The rainy season runs from January to May and the dry season from June to December. It was declared a Ramsar wetland in 1990, an intergovernmental treaty for the conservation of internationally important wetlands. Isla de la Plata is also found inside an Endemic Area known as Tumbesian, which has high and endemic bird diversity. Perhaps the most distinctive fauna is the marine bird life, with a total of 113 species. In the waters surrounding the island you find coral reefs with high marine fauna diversity.

At Isla de La Plata volunteers stay at the Machalilla National Park House which is shared with the park rangers. CONDITIONS ARE BASIC, and there is no fresh water available for washing, or refrigeration. Volunteers share rooms with other volunteers and staff.

Transfer From BaseCamp

Due to the high price of taking a boat out to the Island whenever possible we use tourism boats. This means we can’t always travel to the island the day we wish to go. We ask you for your patience in understanding that due to this reason schedules are flexible and can suddenly change. When travelling on a tourism boat: be very polite, greet the captain and tribulation, thank them for the ride and whenever possible help them to carry the safety vests, trash, etc. In the same manner be respectful and polite with the park rangers stationed at the Island.

Distance & Time

Distance from BaseCamp: 40km
Travel Time from BaseCamp: 1:10

Weather in the Area

Being located on the coast of Ecuador, the climate is dry in Pedernales, but because of the influence of the elevations near the sea, the sea winds and mountains have enabled the climate to take on a semi-wet condition.

In most areas the rainy season lasts from December to June, and the dry from July to November. However, there are places where it rains most of the year.

The average temperature ranges between 21 and 24 degrees Celsius, with a rainfall precipitation of 2,000 to 4,000 millimetres per year.

City/Village Description

Pedernales is located in the north-west corner of the province of Manabi, in the Republic of Ecuador in South America. Crossed by the equator, the city of Pedernales, is thus divided into northern and southern hemispheres; creating a true paradise.

It is a market town, with its most important product being shrimp. A row of palm trees over 20 miles long adorns the beaches, which are the most extensive in Ecuador. The white sandy beaches which gave this paradise its name, are distinguished by a rocky bank that sits on a seabed of sprouting flints and marmoline stones of different colours.

A creek runs through the town and goes to the beach in the city of Pedernales. This beach is not recommended for use by volunteers or tourists. From there, head north to some of the most beautiful beaches in Ecuador.

As the Cojimies Peninsula comes to an end, so begins the beautiful mangrove forests which despite predation have continued to flourish and remain a sound ecological point for this area.

Pedernales is surrounded by both wet and dry tropical forests, which is a unique geographic condition that very few countries in the world have.

Nearest Medical Clinic

Clìnica Pichincha
Paez N22-160 y Veintimilla
TEL 1: 593 2 2998-777

Placement Address

Equilibrio Azul
La Isla De La Plata

Accommodation and Meals

All of our volunteers begin their stay in Ecuador at our BaseCamp Center in Quito. Given that this placement is less than a 1 hour and 15 minute commute from BaseCamp, volunteers working here will have the option of living with us at BaseCamp or living with a host family.

The following information outlines a brief description of life at BaseCamp and also what someone can expect living with a host family in Ecuador. Once you have completed our application, you can let our staff know if you would prefer to live with a host family. Otherwise, your application will default to having you live with us at BaseCamp.

If you have any questions about the difference between life at BaseCamp or life with a host family in Ecuador you can always give us a call or send us an email. Our contact details are listed in the footer of every page of the site.

BaseCamp Ecuador

BaseCamp Ecuador
BaseCamp Ecuador Address

Juan Rodriguez E8 - 72 Y
6 De Diciembre
Quito, Ecuador

BaseCamp Ecuador Contact Details

Tel: 593 2-254-7737 (Guest House Jazmines)
Mobile: 593-0-998-221-438

BaseCamp Ecuador is located in the trendy Mariscal district of Quito. Within easy walking distance of banks, restaurants, internet cafes and more; BaseCamp in Quito is perfectly situated for any need. Whether you are taking advantage of the rich and vibrant night life of La Mariscal or visiting a local market, BaseCamp Ecuador is always just a few minutes away.

There are six dormitory style guest rooms and five wash-rooms. Pillows, sheets and blankets are provided. There are two common areas on the main floor, including a small resource centre, containing books, magazines, games and other Ecuadorian publications. As well there is a large selection of local movies and documentaries which are available for guest viewing. In addition to the two common areas, BaseCamp Quito has a rooftop terrace, the perfect spot to watch the street come awake with a morning cup of coffee, or spend an afternoon relaxing in the sun.

BaseCamp Quito is also the orientation and training centre for international volunteers visiting Ecuador. In addition to accommodation and meals, BaseCamp Quito also provides volunteers with orientation, Spanish Language training (1 - 8 weeks), placement consultation and work plan seminars, as well as follow up and continued support while volunteers are at their placements. All of these services are available to guests who are interested.

Living With a Host Family in Ecuador

Living with a host family in Ecuador 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 Ecuador.

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 - Ecuador

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

Ecuador 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: 250 USD

Program Dates

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.

Oct 01, 2021 Nov 05, 2021 Dec 03, 2021
Jan 07, 2022 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


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