Our internships in Costa Rica allow you to put what you have learned at university to the test in an area of outstanding natural beauty and to contribute to professional conservation projects devoted to the protection of endangered sea turtles. Especially poaching and change of climatic conditions are the main dangers for turtle nests in Costa Rica – and therefore serious threats for the sea turtles of the country. This course dedicates itself to the research, monitoring, and area analysis of the animals in order to develop long-term solutions for their conservation. Another field of activity is the cooperation with the local population and informing about the necessity of the species preservation. As a part of an international team and under the instruction of experienced scientists you will get insights into the basic working methods of nature and species conservation, learn essential research methods and gain authentic practical experiences in the protection of endangered sea turtles.
Costa Rica has over 160 nature reserves, national parks and conservation areas, making it the ideal location for an internship in conservation and animal welfare. Protected areas make up more than 25% of the country's landmass, making Costa Rica one of our most important habitats for countless plant and animal species and one of the most biodiverse regions on earth. Costa Rica's beauty is no secret, but mass tourism hasn't come to the country quite yet. Costa Rica is committed to sustainable ecotourism in order to preserve the original and exotic character of this wonderful country.
To become part of this internship, you must be at least 20 years old and should have good knowledge of English and Spanish. Furthermore, you should be enrolled at a university as a student of a scientific field (biology, marine biology, ecology, environmental science, veterinary medicine, wildlife management, zoology) and be familiar with basic scientific terms. Alternatively, you may qualify with verifiable experiences in turtle conservation. The project will involve physical activity in high temperatures and high humidity. Even night-time patrols of several hours will take considerable energy. A good level of physical fitness is therefore recommended. That’s why we require a doctor's certificate confirming that you are healthy and fit enough to take part in the course as well as a certificate of vaccination. In order for your application to be successful, we require a brief CV, cover letter, and two professional references. Last, but not least you should be open and flexible as well as enthusiastic about meeting new challenges and becoming active in nature conservation in a team-oriented and responsible way.
After arriving at Juan Santamaría Airport in the capital San José you spend a night in a hotel/hostel of the city. On request, you can also get a private airport transfer for an extra charge. The next morning, you make your way to the office of our partner for an orientation meeting. After that you take public transportation to get to the internship in Pacuare at the Caribbean Coast of Costa Rica. The cost of the accommodation in San José and the transfer to the hotel/hostel, to the office, and to Bataan, the meeting point of staff members and interns, must be paid by each intern.
As an intern in this species conservation project you are going to be seen as a part of the project staff and assist in practical missions in the station and will also be entrusted with your own respective tasks. Usually, you will be engaged as group leader and support the volunteers with their tasks in the project. You give a short introduction into the program, the location, and the rules to newly arrived volunteers and show them how to do the incidental research work properly. Especially during the night patrols, you accompany the volunteers at their beach patrols and make sure that they carry out all conservation and research measures correctly. Furthermore, you are responsible for tagging the turtles and the proper data collection and recording like measuring the turtle shell and the nests, counting the eggs, and noting the location of the nest. In most cases, a found nest must be relocated to the project’s own hatchery. In the breeding station your tasks as an intern involve maintenance work, controlling the order, cleanliness, and completeness of the equipment, as well as recording the activities in the registration book. The inspection of equipment and data material of the previous day are also part of an intern’s tasks. As a member of the project staff you will also take over certain clearing works or incidental works in the household – but also the cooperation with the local population like e.g. joint beach clean-ups or environmental education.
However, you should be aware that we cannot guarantee that you will work directly with the sea turtles during your stay, as it is not possible to predict exactly when they will arrive. You are most likely to work with them if you arrive between July and November/December, as these months have seen the most suitable activity in recent years. There may also be disappointing or frustrating moments during the project, as some of the young may not survive.
Everyone interested in our internship programme should be aware that these courses aim at educating the participants. The courses have a set content and deal with a variety of topics that are introduced in English. A number of theoretical and practical examinations as well as presentations in English are part of the learning experience and can be challenging for non-native speakers. Please note that the courses are not simply safari excursions but require effort. But if you are interested and also willing to learn something completely new, the challenges and tasks will be manageable for you. You should not get discouraged – feel free to contact us so we can discuss the detailed learning plan and explain the general procedure of the courses to you.
The project site is situated in a very quiet region at the east coast of Costa Rica. Since it is located between the Caribbean Sea and a canal it can only be reached by boat. During your time as a species conservation intern you will be accommodated in a basic guesthouse. You sleep in multi-bed rooms with ca. three other participants of the project and use shared bathrooms. Furthermore, the house offers lockers for personal objects; electricity is produced with solar cells and should be used economically. You will get three meals every day – these are either already prepared or you will help preparing them. You will have access to drinking water from a well. To get in contact with your home you should buy a Costa Rican SIM-card.
Everybody interested in internships abroad should be able to adjust to entirely unfamiliar standards of living in their future host country. Therefore, we would like to point out the importance of being flexible and adaptable regarding the accommodation and sanitary facilities provided by the project. Those are very basic and – depending on the project – cannot be compared to European standards. The equipment and furnishings are limited to a minimum; air conditioning is not available. Depending on your host country occasional power blackouts or water outages are quite common. Please contact us if you have further questions about your accommodation. We are pleased to provide you with comprehensive information since we would like you to feel entirely prepared for your time abroad.
It is difficult to predict exactly how much time you will be working and how much free time you will have, as your responsibilities and working hours are largely dependent on the season and the weather. As an intern you will have four days off in a month. You will work for between six and eight hours a day, so you will always have time to explore the surrounding area or relax in your accommodation or on the beach. The project is located quite remotely, surrounded by Costa Rican rainforest so that there are no shopping facilities. If the incidental tasks allow it you can go with the “grocery boat” once a month. Furthermore, you can go on excursions into the exotic natural environment and neighbouring sandy beaches, participate in wildlife tours on the canals or take a look at the production of coconut oil.