Wondering what you can expect during an experience volunteering at Rascarey Sea Turtle Conservation Project in Playa Rincon, Costa Rica? Here's a run down of some of the day to day activities and experiences that volunteers are involved in while participating in the project...
Patrolling the Beach for Nests: Each night volunteers join Estaban, the creator and leader of the project, to walk along the beach searching for sea turtle nests and any nesting turtles. If a nest, or turtle laying eggs is found, the patrol group will either identify where the eggs are laid on the beach or allow the turtle to finish laying eggs, and using gloves will safely remove and count the eggs to bring back to the hatchery (vivero) at camp to re-nest the eggs within safety netting to ensure the eggs won't be found by dogs, birds, or people poaching the eggs.
Baby Turtle Hatching: Throughout both patrols at night and in the mornings, volunteers will check the hatchery (vivero) for any hatched turtles. If turtles have hatched, volunteers will use gloves to move and count the baby turtles into a specialized crate for release...
Baby Turtle Release: Depending on the tides and time of day, baby turtles will either be released back to the ocean after hatching during the night, or if hatched after sunrise will be held for some hours in a safe room in the dark to be released at a better time of day when there are no birds and the tide is lower. Typically around 5 pm, volunteers will help bring the turtles down to the beach and release the turtles to the ocean while ensuring each turtle makes it safely to water.
Nest Excavations: After the sea turtles have hatched, volunteers will help remove the shell casings buried in the ground in the hatchery (Vivero). Additionally, volunteers will help remove any eggs that may not have hatched and help identify the cause of the turtle not hatching such as fungi.
Beach Cleanup: Volunteers can expect to help keep the beach clean during their time at Rascarey. Volunteers will walk the shores of Playa Rincon collecting pieces of trash to collect and bring back to camp to then be counted, repurposed, or recycled.
Material Repurposing: From the trash collected on the beach, plastics will be cut up to be placed inside plastic bottles to build eco-blocks that are then used for building projects at camp. Plastics can also be re-purposed for art projects, decor, or any other uses around camp.
Cooking Meals: Volunteers share duties to cook vegetarian meals for the group of people at camp. Cooking is collaborative and volunteers can learn to make some traditional Costa Rican foods such as Patacones and try local fruits like Guyabano.
Making Coconut Oil: Volunteers may learn the coconut oil process, involving collecting coconuts, cutting open coconuts, shredding the coconut meat, sifting out the oil, and cooking the oil over fire.
Other Activities: During the hours outside of the 4-6 working hours per night/day, volunteers can enjoy swimming in the ocean, surfing, hiking to the nearest waterfalls, arts and crafts, rest, or even playing card games together.
Days Off: Each week volunteers get 1 day off and 1 night off from volunteering. During this time volunteers can go to Corcavado National Park, visit Drake Bay, snorkel or dive at Caño Island, or simply enjoy a relaxing day at camp or the beach.
Overall, there's a lot to learn, try, and experience as part of volunteering at Rascarey Sea Turtle Conservation Project in Playa Rincon, Costa Rica.