The Leatherback Trust
Weekly cost (approx USD):
Direct benefits you gain:
field research skills
remote scenic location
Noteworthy conservation points:
shared rooms in communal house (bunkbeds)
When does the project run?
food included, accommodation included, cold water showers, no phone signal, cooking facilities, communal areas, refillable drinking water, may be difficult to accommodate vegans, bring your own bed linen!
How long can I stay?
Details of the day-to-day life on the project:
$56 a week for Costa Rican nationals.
The research project at Cabuyal has been running since January 2011. Every year, we collect data on the population biology and nesting ecology of the sea turtles. When we started the research project, our main aim was to assess the importance of the Gulf of Papagayo as nesting grounds for sea turtles and to analyze the feasibility and need for establishing a long-term research and conservation project in the area.
The core of the nesting season extends from September to March with some level of nesting occurring throughout the year. Main data collection include marking and identifying nesting turtles, measuring turtles, counting eggs, marking the nest, taking temperatures, conducting nest excavations during the hatching season and releasing hatchlings at night.
We patrol the beach at 5am each morning to count tracks and verify nesting activities during the previous night. Occasionally, we see a “morning turtle” laying her eggs at sunrise. This is the best time for photography!
We patrol the beach for 4-8 hours each night, depending upon the number of turtles. The number of turtles per night cannot be predicted, but during the peak season there may be between 5-20 turtles per night. On some nights, there will not be any turtles. Each night patrol is composed of 2-3 persons (one biologist and 1-2 Sea Turtle Biology Training Camp participants). Depending upon the time of year, we will do 1-2 patrol shifts per night.
All participants will have one free day per week with no scheduled activities. Additionally, there is free time during the day for resting and relaxing between activities.
All Sea Turtle Biology Training Camp participants must be 18 years of age or older on the day of arrival.
Sea Turtle Biology Training Camp participants must commit to a minimum of 15 days at Cabuyal Camp (1-2 month commitments are given priority).
Sea Turtle Species
Four sea turtle species nest at Cabuyal. The most abundant species is the East Pacific green turtle, commonly known as black turtle (Chelonia mydas). The beach is also frequented by solitary olive ridley turtles (Lepidochelys olivacea) and leatherback turtles (Dermochelys coriacea). On very rare occasions, hawksbill turtles (Eretmochelys imbricata) also nest here.
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