Sea Turtle Conservation Project (Los Santos)

  • Save the sea turtles from extinction through conservation efforts
  • Gain hands-on experience as a field worker alongside local conservation professionals
  • Immerse in the Panamanian culture working alongside the locals
  • Practice Spanish and bask in the beautiful pristine beaches of Panama

If you love animals and want to save one of the most magnificent creatures on earth from extinction then volunteer in Panama in the Turtle Conservation project! The beautiful turtles are an endangered species, and if not conserved, can soon become extinct. In fact, scientists have predicted that we will forever lose the turtles in a short 20 years, unless we up the preservation efforts of the creature and its habitats. New Hope works with the turtle conservation project in the Azuero region of Panama, which is surrounded by the Pacific Ocean. As a volunteer in the project, you’ll play a major role in protecting the habitat of the turtles, and ensuring that there are safe environments for the turtles to lay eggs. Cultivation and grazing has had a negative impact on the environment of Azuero and even resulted in a desert in the north-eastern part of the peninsula. Join this turtle conservation effort, and as you witness hatchlings crawling their way out of the sand and dawdling towards the sea, take joy in knowing you were a part of that.

Volunteer's Responsibilities

As a volunteer in the Turtle Conservation project in Panama, you will be supporting local conservation efforts focusing mainly on protecting nesting sites, incubation and the releasing of hatchlings. Depending on the individual’s skills and expertise, and the needs of the local staff, your daily duties include but are not limited to:

  • Day and night beach patrols of nesting sites to protect turtles and eggs from poachers
  • Hatchery shifts that run about six hours
  • Recording data about turtles
  • Relocating turtle nests
  • Keeping predators away
  • Taking carapace and nest-dimension measurements
  • Tagging rear flippers of turtles
  • Trail and beach maintenance and clean-up
  • Providing information to tourists
  • Educating the locals on turtle conservation
  • Measuring and releasing hatchlings
  • Assisting local organizations with fundraising
  • Helping with website development and advertising
  • Assisting local organizations with conservation campaigns
  • Providing organizations with organizational and administrative tasks

How You Can Make a Difference

If you’re looking to embark on a career in turtle conservation, biological sciences or community development, this is the ideal project for you. As a volunteer, you’ll be able to learn about ecology and the conservation of sea turtles. You’ll also be able to experience the life of a conservation field worker, and take on an active roll in patrolling the beaches at night, assisting in data collection, and relocating and keeping track of the eggs. Conservation efforts focus on strengthening the sea turtle populations by supporting their breeding efforts, along with protecting and feeding them.

Skills and Qualifications

There are no specific qualifications needed to volunteer in the Turtle Conservation project. Much of the turtle conservation work is physical in nature, so volunteers need to be in good physical health, and able to walk long distances due to the frequent patrols. Volunteers must also know how to swim. Basic Spanish skills will be helpful for effective communication with the locals, but not necessary in order to take part in the project. If you cannot speak Spanish, we recommend enrolling in our Spanish Language Studies program. This project is ideal for volunteers studying or interested in biological sciences and/or community development, as well as anyone with a general interest in nature and the environment. You are not allowed to smoke during night patrols and you must also be able to adapt to very hot and humid conditions. Volunteers must also be mindful of insect allergies as there will be plenty of mosquitoes and sand flies.

Project Location

Volunteers working on turtle conservation will be heading to Los Santos, the province on the southern tip of the Azuero Peninsula. Cambutal hosts our turtle conservation project. Volunteers will spend their time on a black sand beach, aiding in the efforts of a local volunteer organization to protect the sea turtle’s habitat. Those spending their time here may elect to spend their weekend relaxing on the beach and eating at one of the community’s two restaurants. Volunteers will stay with a host family, enriching their experience by immersing themselves in the Panamanian culture. Volunteers are encouraged to go out with their host families during their free time. Whether to go grocery shopping or attend a baile, host-family members provide a wealth of knowledge about the area as well as customs and traditions.

Cambutal is located close to Tonosi. A mid-sized town, Tonosi offers internet cafes, stores, and various restaurants should volunteers want to take a short trip out of their communities to explore. Volunteers of both communities are also encouraged to hop on a morning bus that will deliver them to Las Tablas, the capital of the Los Santos province. A small, traditional city, Las Tablas offers a wealth of things to do and see. Volunteers can attend parades, watch cultural dances and festivals, and buy hand-made arts and crafts. Located no more than 2 hours from either site, Las Tablas has internet, grocery and clothing stores, restaurants, and ATMs.

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