Caring for and protecting Sea Turtles are big parts of what we do at Romelia. We primarily see Ridley, Hawksbill and Leatherback sea turtles. The season for these sea turtles is between July and December. But don’t worry! We have plenty of other amazing work we do throughout the rest of the year. See below for more information.
Night Patrols: Our night patrols are made up of a group of volunteers led by an experienced patrol leader. Volunteers will walk the 6km-long beach searching for nesting females. An average night patrol will take 4 hours but can last longer depending on the number of sea turtle encounters. When a turtle is encountered on a night patrol, patrolling teams work directly with it, taking carapace (shell) and nest dimension measurements, collecting eggs, tagging the flippers or collect DNA samples. The collected eggs will be relocated in the hatchery where the volunteers on shift will build a new nest (according to measurements that were taken) and relocating the eggs. The number of eggs, nest location and turtle identification information (tag number) are then recorded by the hatchery attendant for further data analysis for example hatch-ling survival rate. The project avoids every form of confrontation with egg poachers. If a shift encounters poachers they won´t do anything. The unwritten rule in this community is that the person(s) who arrive first are the “owners” of the eggs.
Hatchery Shifts:The tasks in the hatchery will be taking care of the relocated nests; keeping out predators and tourists; giving information to tourists; taking nest temperatures and measurements; and releasing newborn hatch-lings.
During hatching seasons, all nests in the hatcheries must be checked every 10 minutes during the day and every 15 minutes during the night. Hatch-lings must be counted and released in the appropriate location and observed until they reach the sea.Mammal Project: Tasks include maintaining the trails used for mammal walks, participating in patrols during which volunteers and staff look for mammals and signs of mammals, setting up trap cameras, and reviewing footage taken.
Beach Cleanings: The beach is constantly being filled with wood debris and trash brought from San Jose by a nearby river, reducing the nesting area available for turtles, as well as presenting risks for the turtles and the hatch-lings (e.g. acting as barriers on the beach).
Trail Maintenance: Because everything grows so quickly here, trails need constant maintenance – especially in the rainy season. The space of the refuge occupies 224.8 hectares (556 acres), so you can imagine there is plenty of work to be done with the trails!
Your role as a volunteer in this part of the project is to protect the endangered environments within Romelia that are rich with diversity. This is accomplished through projects such as trail construction and maintenance, cleaning and maintenance of facilities, support in research projects, collaboration with the environmental education program, and the attention of tourists.
Gardening: For those with a green thumb – or those who want to learn more about gardening – there is an opportunity to help in the onsite vineyard, with the greenhouse, exotic fruit trees, and many tropical plants.
We are also Implementing a program of environmental education with the purpose of educating residents and visitors about the importance of protecting coastal and marine ecosystems and biodiversity of the same..
Signs: Using the router and paint, volunteers will assist in replacing current signs in the refuge, as well as creating new ones.Accommodations
We provide the use of a two-story house with kitchen, dining area, living room and a bedroom that can accommodate up to 10 volunteers. The house has running water, two showers and a toilet. The common area downstairs boasts hammocks, chairs and picnic tables.
Volunteers are provided with three meals a day, prepared in the typical diet of the costa rican family: rice, beans, tortillas, soups, vegetable stews, pasta, etc. Meals will be prepared by our gracious cook, Antonia. All volunteers are asked to take turns assisting with cooking and cleanup of kitchen and communal areas.