Being an Eco-Volunteer for the Sea Turtle Conservancy is definitely an adventure! To get to Tortuguero, I first took a bus ride through the mountains and then to the coast. From there I boarded a small boat to take me through the canals. It was here that I first started to experience the wonderful wildlife that can be found in Costa Rica. From monkeys, to iguana’s, countless native birds, and butterflies there is always something to see.
Once I arrived at the station, I learned how to measure and record data for when a turtle is nesting. Right away I was included in the night patrols and various activities that take place during a usual week at the station. During the week I got to know the research assistants better and learned about the countries that they are from.
The night patrols are not always successful in terms of seeing turtles but there is always something interesting to see, from the brilliant night sky to small crabs that glow in the dark. Since nature, and turtles, are not always predictable, I recommend staying for two weeks. That way there are more opportunities to see a turtle.
Seeing a turtle was definitely the highlight of my trip! I was able to count the eggs and help check her flippers and shell for any damage. Being so close to these amazing animals is truly a life changing experience. Working with the turtle up close gave me a new appreciation for these creatures, while also motivating me even more to help conserve them.
Staying two weeks also gives you time to become a part of the weekly schedule and see even more wildlife. There is always something to do in or around the station: going in to Tortuguero for shopping or food, bird watching, relaxing on the beach, taking a canal tour or even just reading a book. Costa Rica is truly a beautiful country, from the plants, to the animals, and even the gorgeous sunsets.
Being an Eco-Volunteer in Tortuguero is definitely a once in a life time experience. If you have the chance, you should definitely go!
By Rachel Bladow