Sea Turtle Conservation Volunteer, Hawaii, Guatemala

You are the one who can assure these children to have the chance to grow up safe and healthy.

This project has been going on since 1993 as an attempt to counteract threats to leatherback and olive ridley turtle populations by overharvesting by local egg collectors. It is located on the south coast at 3-hectare Park on the beach, 2kms west of the village of Hawaii and 7kms east of the resort town of Monterrico. The project is open yearlong to volunteers like you that can lend a hand to continue with the activity.
You’ll get to know the unique Hawaii ecosystem that consists of mangrove-lined estuaries, dry tropical forests and volcanic sand beaches. Beaches are of the “high-energy” type characteristic of the pacific coast: relatively steep and narrow with strong waves and tides and no reefs. Each one of these settings faces natural and man-made threats and this project’s and your help is very much needed to prevent it.
Turtle eggs are prized by local populations as a supplement to their income and diets. On nights that the turtles come to lay their eggs, competition for nests is intense and it is extremely rare that a nest escapes plunder. Turtle eggs are sold to local buyers who transport them to restaurants and markets in the capital and other large towns. The project solicits donations of sea turtle eggs from local collectors and then reburies the eggs in protected hatcheries. After an incubation period of roughly 50 days, the hatchlings are released into the sea. They have made major advances on recovering eggs. When the project started, only 4,000 – 8,000 eggs per year were being collected. In the last few years, the Hawaii Hatchery has collected over 40,000 eggs, usually representing over one third of all the eggs collected by the rest of the 21 hatcheries in the country.

Join this project and make the difference!

 

As a volunteer you’ll have a busy time during egg-laying season (June- October). You’ll be able to take part in patrols and spend nights walking the beach in search of nesting turtles. Once the turtle is sighted and “claimed”, you’ll have to wait until it has finished laying, collect the eggs, transfer and then bury them in the hatchery. You’ll also receive voluntary donations from local egg collectors and carry them to the hatchery. Once the eggs have been buried in the hatchery, the nest is marked and recorded in a log. Afterwards, when the eggs begin hatching (mid-July to December), you’ll be asked to assist in releasing the hatchlings and excavating the nests to determine the hatchling success rate.
This project is an integrated project that, while attempting to conserve the flora and fauna of the area also tries to offer local residents economic alternatives to improve the quality of their lives. For that reason they provide educational workshops and activities in area schools, including teaching classes, developing curriculum, conducting beach clean ups and operating school hatcheries. You’ll also be able to get involved in mangrove reforestation, caiman and iguana breeding and to manage community projects to help people understand the need of keeping turtles alive.
The staff at the project will welcome your energy and any ideas you may have to help on their goal.
Although the turtle egg-laying and hatching season is from June to November and is the most active times at the center, volunteers are needed at all times. Mangrove reforestation activities are carried out December – February. For those interested in environmental education, the Guatemalan school year lasts from January to October. Sign up on this Volunteer project and be part of this noble activity while getting immersed in Guatemalan society!

Accommodation

Residences & Hostels

If you want to live with several local and foreign students, you can choose to stay in a private or shared room in any of the students' residencies we offer you. Sharing a place with young people from all over the world is a great opportunity to learn about different cultures and make new friends as well as learning about the place in which you are studying.

Requirements

Usual Volunteer Tasks

  • Over 18 years old
  •  Hard working skills
  •  Ecologically sensitive
  •  Willing to learn about new cultures
  •  Enthusiasm
  •  Night patrols
  •  Search for turtle nests
  •  Monitor relocated turtle nests and nest temperatures
  •  Assist in freeing baby turtles for their initial journey to sea
  •  Counting baby turtles and releasing them
  •  Take biometric measurements of turtles
  •  General infrastructure maintenance
  •  Making Information signs
  •  Beach cleaning
  •  Work in organic gardens and in trail building activities
  •  Participate in local cultural activities
  •  Other duties may be asked according to the needs

The tasks described above will vary according to the amount of turtles and the season: when is not turtle season the maintenance tasks are very important as well as beach cleaning and information signs.
Flexibility depends on work schedule and arrangements made by volunteers.

Project Hightlights

  • Take part on this integrated project that features taking care of turtle eggs, creating conscience on the local population on turtle conservation and research activities.
  • Be part of different activities like mangrove reforestation, caiman and iguana breeding and community projects.
  • Get in touch with nature in a very rare ecosystem that needs the help of volunteers like you to survive
  • Make long lasting friendships with the local staff getting immersed in Guatemalan culture.

Daily Routine

Generally, volunteers are on duty from 8 am to 4 pm. Keep in mind that the schedule may change depending on the work load and the needs of the project.
 
 
 
 
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