Latin American Sea Turtles Association (LAST) is member of the Wider Caribbean Sea turtle Conservation Network (WIDECAST), an international scientific network with country coordinators in more than 40 countries and territories of the Wider Caribbean Region. These organizations work in partnership for the improvement of the situation of endangered sea turtles in Latin-America and beyond.
The vision of LAST is to realize a future where all inhabitants of the Latin American - Caribbean and Pacific - Region, human and sea turtle alike, can live together in balance; where healthy populations of sea turtles fulfill their ecological roles and economic potential; and critical natural habitats are sustainably managed.
LAST is dedicated to improving the conservation status of endangered sea turtles and their critical habitats in the Pacific and Carribean Coasts of Costa Rica through research, the creation, elaboration and distribution of a variety of informative material and the execution of training programs and courses for local communities. Volunteers will get the opportunity to work hands on with these amazing animals and work side by side with members of the community to ensure the protection and conservation of these species and their habitats.
LAST offers two very different sea turtle projects! Depending on which one you choose, the duties of the volunteer will vary. LAST offers the Pacuare Nesting Beach Project and the Osa In Water Monitoring Project .
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.
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, which are found mainly in shallow (<50m), hard- bottom substrates or sea grass beds in coastal areas, and less frequently around coral reefs. Surveys will be conducted twice a week (weather permitting) 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.
Pacuare Nesting Beach Project islocated in the northern Caribbean province of Limon, Costa Rica and the Osa In-Water Sea Turtle Project is located on Playa Blanca, close to Puerto Jiménez on the Osa Peninsula in the southern Pacific province of Puntarenas, Costa Rica.
Volunteers will sleep in shared cabins belonging to the station of the project area. Three delicious, costa-rican meals a day are included and vegetarian/vegan options are available. The project is located in a quiet remote area, bordered by the sea on the one side, a canal on the other side and only accessible by boat. Therefore,accommodations are veryrustic and simple. Electricity is provided by solar panels so it must be used sparingly. Portable water comes from a well. There is no internet and limited cell phone signal .
You will stay in Playa Blanca, north of Puerto Jiménez. Volunteers will stay with host families. We have four different categories which all include different services and amenities. However, all of them guarantee comfortable rooms or cabins for your precious sleep and meals to keep you full of energy for your work with the sea turtles and their habitat. Three meals a day are included. There is limited internet access.
Pacuare Nesting Beach Project runs from March through October of each year and the Osa In Water Project runs year round. Volunteers are required to have a minimum stay of one week.