Volunteer – Osa Conservation

OSA

WHAT WILL BE EXPECTED OF ME?

The goal of our sea turtle conservation program is to guarantee the health and ecological success of the sea turtles nesting on the Osa Peninsula by integrating conservation, research and educational outreach. Our work focuses on populations of Olive Ridley and Pacific Green sea turtles. Both of these species are on the IUCN’s “red list” of endangered and critically endangered species. Protecting these turtles is a large undertaking; we can’t do it on our own. We rely on the help of dedicated volunteers like you! We work in partnership with the Costa Rican Park Service to monitor and protect nesting turtles on 18 km of Osa’s Pacific beaches from Matapalo to Carate. The Osa provides one of the most important nesting areas along the entire Pacific Coast of Costa Rica for Olive Ridley sea turtles.

Volunteers will:
– Participate in nightly beach surveys with the help of Staff and Research Field Assistants
– Conduct morning beach surveys; check for hatchlings, excavate nests, and record predated eggs
– Take biometric measurements of sea turtles & perform turtle health assessments
– Record data on different turtle species; analyse tracks and record identifying marks
– Assist in the application of two types of identification tags
– Monitor nesting sites for hatchlings & potential predators
– Mark and triangulate nest positions
– Assist with activities related to hatchery

HOW LONG CAN I VOLUNTEER FOR?

Minimum one week. Longer stays are encouraged and discounts are offered for longer participation.

WHAT QUALIFICATIONS, IF ANY, DO I REQUIRE?

Volunteers must be 18 years or older. No experience is required. If you do have prior experience with sea turtle conservation, marine biology or related field, we do offer limited positions for research field assistants.

WILL I NEED TO KNOW ANOTHER LANGUAGE?

English or Spanish. Most of our staff is bilingual so it is not necessary that volunteers speak both.

HOW DO I GET TO YOUR LOCATION?

Our volunteers are responsible for getting themselves to the field site in Osa. From the Juan Santamaria International Airport (SJO) in San Jose, most volunteers opt to take a short flight down to Puerto Jimenez (our nearest town) on one of two available airlines. This is the best option if you are not familiar with San Jose. It is also possible to make the trip by bus if you’re feeling adventurous, but finding the right bus stop can be a bit challenging. Also, even though San Jose is not a particularly dangerous city, we do not recommend walking around unfamiliar neighbourhoods alone.

There are two airlines that fly from San Jose to our nearest town (Puerto Jimenez), SANSA AIR – www.flysansa.com and NATURE AIR – www.natureair.com. We have an office in Puerto Jimenez but our program is run from our field station (about an hour outside of Puerto Jimenez). Once you arrive in Puerto Jimenez you can either hire a taxi to the field site or take the “colectivo” or public transportation that runs twice daily from town to our facilities. Detailed travel instructions are provided to volunteers prior to their departure.

ARE THERE ANY COSTS INVOLVED TO VOLUNTEER WITH OSA CONSERVATION?

Click HERE to find out up to date costs and requirements for volunteering with OSA CONSERVATION.

WHAT TYPE OF ACCOMMODATION, MEALS AND FACILITIES CAN I EXPECT TO BE AVAILABLE TO ME?

Volunteers staying with us at our Piro Biological Station are offered comfortable shared accommodation in one of three cabins. Each cabin has three bedrooms that can accommodate four people, a shared bathroom and shower, and a breezeway that can be set up for work or relaxation. In addition to the cabins, the research center is also equipped with a wet lab, reference library and dining hall. Our extensive trail network covers diverse ecosystems including primary and secondary rainforest, coastal habitats and numerous freshwater resources. Volunteers staying at Piro Biological Station will interact with researchers and other visiting groups and have the opportunity to learn about various conservation activities and programs happening at our facilities in Osa. Towels, sheets and meals are provided by our wonderful local chef Emilia.

WHAT WILDLIFE SPECIES ARE THERE?

In the Osa Peninsula you will see nesting Olive Ridley – Lepidochelys olivacea and Black or Pacific Green Turtles – Chelonia mydas agraziissi, both of these species are globally endangered. You will also see all four species of Costa Rican monkeys; Central American Spider Monkey – Ateles geoffroyi, Mantled Howler – Alouatta palliata, White-faced Capuchin – Cebus capucinus, and Red-backed Squirrel Monkeys – Saimiri oerstedii oerstedii, Scarlet Macaws, and potentially Puma, White-lipped Peccary, Tapir, Tamandua, Spectacled Caiman, many frog species, and if you are extremely lucky, a Jaguar.

WHAT ATTRACTIONS CAN I EXPERIENCE DURING FREE-TIME?

Sea turtle volunteers will have free time during the day between morning and night patrols to relax, hike, assist researchers with field projects, visit our education center and participate in reforestation activities, or book a kayaking or horseback riding tour to visit the nearby mangroves and waterfall.

IN CONCLUSION

The Osa Peninsula harbor more life than perhaps anywhere else on earth. Here you can find the largest intact mangrove ecosystem in Pacific Mesoamerica, the most significant remaining areas of lowland Pacific tropical rainforest, and one of only four tropical fjords on the planet, the Golfo Dulce. These ecosystems provide invaluable services to the people who depend on them for clean air, drinking water, food, jobs, cultural resources and a stable climate. As a non-profit organization, Osa Conservation works to protect these globally significant resources for ours and future generations. Our staffs of biologists, forestry professionals, natural resource managers, and conservationists are passionately dedicated to protecting this spectacular place and we are very grateful for the support of adventurous and committed volunteers who help us to monitor and protect the incredible flora and fauna of the Osa Peninsula.

For more information on OSA CONSERVATION, please visit www.osaconservation.org

For important information on travelling overseas, please read ‘KNOW BEFORE YOU GO WILD!‘