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Sea Turtle Nest Monitoring Volunteering in the Galapagos Islands

Sea Turtle Nest Monitoring Volunteering in the Galapagos Islands

Purpose
Conserve endangered turtle species
Start dates
Programs start every Monday
Duration
Choose from 2-12 weeks
Volunteer hours
4 hours a day
Age
Volunteers aged 18+ and families
Accommodation
Homestay
Program fees
From AU$2208 for 2 weeks
What's included
Find out here
Apply for free
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Who is going?
Group video calls

Once you have secured your place, join regular video calls to meet your Program Manager and other volunteers before your trip.

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This program is ideal for:

Volunteers who are passionate about conservation and want to help to stop the decline of critically endangered turtles. You should be happy to do early morning and late night beach patrols.

Project details

Want to help protect highly endangered turtle species in the beautiful Galapagos Islands? International Volunteer HQ’s Sea Turtle Nest Monitoring project is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to support the protection of sea turtles in the Galapagos Islands. You’ll be part of the conservation effort on Isabela Island by collecting data, patrolling beaches, monitoring nests, and much more! This project is only available during the nesting season from January to the end of May.

What to expect and how you'll make an impact

The Green Sea Turtle (species name Chelonia mydas) which nests on Galapagos Islands can be found swimming throughout the tropical and subtropical waters, and with their numbers declining the continued efforts to protect these turtles is an important focus for conservationists in the Galapagos.

As a sea turtle nest monitoring volunteer, the data that you collect will assist the local team in collecting important baseline nesting data that the Galapagos National Park will analyze and apply in the management plan of their beaches. This will allow Galapagos National Park to continue the protection and management of these sea turtles that are in a critical state of conservation at a global level.

This project is only available during the nesting season from January to the end of May. Your specific tasks will depend on the time of the year you volunteer as well as the needs of the project. This project has a minimum duration requirement of 2 weeks. Please note, you should not expect to have any direct physical contact with turtles on this project.

Volunteer work duties may vary but generally include:

  • Clearing and preparing of nesting area along the beach
  • Beach patrols looking for nests and signs of sea turtles
  • Monitoring of already registered nests
  • Baseline data collection on nests, nest sizes, and beach conditions
  • Documenting nesting patterns observed and help determine hatching success when nest excavation occurs
  • Practice of conversational English with the guides of the reserve
  • As you walk the beach, picking up rubbish and debris to keep the beach clear for the turtles
  • Removal of Kikuyo (a highly invasive plant that chokes out nature plants) from the turtle nesting area (3 hours per week)
  • Assist with monthly beach profiling to measure beach erosion to determine the current beach profile

Please note, while the Green Sea Turtle is the only turtle species that nests on Isabela Island, in your spare time if you choose to go snorkeling, you may see additional species of turtle such as Hawksbill. But this species does not nest on Isabela Island.

The Sea Turtle Nest Monitoring project requires a high level of physical fitness. Placement hours are often sporadic throughout the day, with early morning and late night beach patrols where you will be required to walk approximately 2 - 3 hours at a time. In addition you can expect to complete high intensity tasks such as Kikuyo removal (a highly invasive and strenuous weed to remove) to allow for turtle nesting along the shoreline.

Contributes to United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goal #14: Life Below Water

Contributes to United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goal #14: Life Below Water

The ocean regulates and drives global systems that make the Earth habitable for humankind. Marine biodiversity is critical to the health of people and our planet. Preserving threatened ecosystems, as well as tackling marine pollution and overfishing through conservation activities is key to saving our ocean.

Why do Sea Turtle Nest Monitoring volunteering in the Galapagos Islands with IVHQ?

As a Turtle Conservation volunteer in Galapagos, you’ll be adding value to the local community, while also developing personally and professionally by:

  • Helping protect critically endangered turtle species
  • Supporting scientists with data collection and monitoring
  • Practicing your Spanish and communication skills
  • Gaining wildlife and marine conservation experience
  • Immersing yourself fully in the local culture
  • Discovering the natural wonders of the Galapagos Islands

Volunteer requirements

Volunteers need to be 18 years or over to participate on this project independently. If travelling as a family, volunteers under the age of 18 must be at least 12 years old and accompanied by a parent or guardian to participate in this program. They will be required to provide IVHQ with a parental/guardian consent form and two character reference letters in order to participate on the program, and may be asked to provide additional documentation to the local team. Volunteers need to be able to walk up to 6 miles on the beach in the early morning and late evening. All volunteers are required to have adequate volunteer travel insurance and provide a recent criminal background check to IVHQ.

Are you eligible to volunteer?

Submit a free application so we can confirm your eligibility and check availability for your preferred dates.

Apply for free

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'Who is going' users image
Who is going?
Group video calls

Once you have secured your place, join regular video calls to meet your Program Manager and other volunteers before your trip.

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What recent volunteers said about their IVHQ experience

RB
Roy Baptiste
05 Jun 2024

Great way to learn and the locals were very helpful to answer any questions I had. My host Mum was very hospitable and made me feel at home. Her and the family enjoyed learning of my culture and traditions after our supper. It worked both ways and I learned a lot from them too.

...
DT
Deborah Thornton
24 May 2024

It was interesting to be part of a program to monitor turtles and to see what is done to help protect these animals. The people I met as part of this were great and it was nice to have a group of colleagues with whom I could discuss things. The local team was great and my host Mum was a very good cook, providing us with a delicious variety of food.

...
PN
Patrick Neve
21 May 2024

Through IVHQ's thorough advice pre-departure and the local team's support on the ground, I gained a much better understanding of how volunteer programs work as well as knowledge about Green Turtles. My host family were fantastic and it was hard to say goodbye! The meals were one of the highlights, with lots of different traditional dishes. I would advise anyone thinking of volunteering to embrace the different culture and food and make the most of the volunteering work itself. It’s not all glamorous and some work is hard and tedious. But it’s for a short period of time and it adds a lot of value.

...
GB
Georgette Baker
18 Mar 2024

The IVHQ Programs are wonderful, safe, well coordinated and organized. The support team was wonderful and my host family was lovely!

...
MB
Max Barauna-Lindelof
18 Feb 2024

IVHQ was absolutely amazing! The accommodation was very comfortable and the meals were delicious. My advice to future volunteers is go with the flow and enjoy island life.

...
AK
Alexander Kocsis
24 Jan 2024

The team was fantastic and I really enjoyed working with them on the Sea Turtle Nest Monitoring project. The meals prepared by our host family were fantastic.

...

To read all reviews, visit our reviews page.

Academic course credit

Academic course credit through International Volunteer HQ and Intern Abroad HQ.

Academic course credit

Gain course credit from your college or university and meet your academic requirements when completing a volunteer abroad program with International Volunteer HQ!

Learn about course credit

Location

Volunteer Abroad in the Galapagos Islands with IVHQ

Location

The IVHQ Galapagos volunteer program is based in Puerto Villamil, a small port village located on the southeastern edge of Isabela Island in the Galapagos Islands. ​This is where orientation and general administration is carried out by our local team. Volunteer placements are located within walking distance around Puerto Villamil with the exception of the Sustainable Agriculture project, which is a 30 minute bus ride outside the village to the highlands.

Arrival and orientation

The Galapagos volunteer program begins every Monday and you need to arrive on Isabela Island on your Monday chosen start date.

After you have registered for the program, please book your travel into Seymour Galapagos Ecological Airport (GPS) on Baltra Island. From here you can either catch a ferry boat to Isabela Island (this ferry trip is included in your program fee) or take an island hopper plane from Baltra Island to Isabela Island with EMETEBE airlines (this flight is not included in your program fee).

Most volunteers arrive in mainland Ecuador on Sunday and spend this night in either Quito or Guayaquil. On Monday they then travel from mainland to Baltra Island, and then onward to Isabela Island. When you arrive on Isabela Island you will need to walk a few minutes up from the pier to the ABG (Biosecurity Agency) office where you will be met by a member of the local team who will transfer you to your accommodation (also included in your program fee) and then have a small town tour. Your accommodation is covered by your Program Fee and begins from your Monday arrival through the morning of your last Sunday.

On Tuesday, orientation is hosted by our local team in Galapagos and runs for half a day, after which you will be taken to your placement. Orientation covers everything you need to know for your volunteer program in Galapagos – Introduction to Galapagos, Galapagos Customs, Rules and Expectations, Safety, Travel Opportunities in Galapagos, Introduction to your Project and Placement. The orientation will also give you a chance to meet other volunteers and swap contact details for weekend travel and socialising.

Volunteer schedule example

A volunteer day is subject to change depending on the specific needs of the project at the time a volunteer is visiting. The Sea Turtle Nest Monitoring project runs 7 days per week and volunteers will always have 2 days in a row off, however, this may not be over the weekend.

Volunteers on the Turtle Nest Monitoring project can expect to work for 4 - 5 hours a day. ​A typical daily schedule​ might be as follows:

6:00 - 9:00 AM Morning shift volunteer work commences at first light.
4:00 PM - 6:00 PM Kikuyo (invasive weed) removal, baseline data collection, rubbish collection.
8:00 PM - 1:00 AM Night shift volunteer work commences.

Please note, these timings are approximate and may vary depending on the needs of the placement.

Any time outside of the scheduled placement work volunteers are free to relax, rest, eat, explore the island, do some local snorkeling, or take a surf lesson.

Weekends During their assigned “weekend”, volunteers have spare time and usually just relax or take the opportunity to​ ​explore other parts of Isabela Island and other Galapagos islands such as the nearby Santa Cruz.

There is a dive site with great diving just off Isabela Island, hiking on the active Sierra Negra Volcano, snorkel sites including Tuneles where you can see the lava tunnels, tours to islet Tintoreras, local snorkel and dive spot Concha de Perla with turtles, seals, rays, etc., kayaking on the bay, renting a bike and hiking to the ‘Wall of Tears’ along the stunning coastal route passing lagoons, mangroves, and giant tortoises in the wild.

Accommodation and WiFi

Volunteers are accommodated in a homestay with a local family, which is an incredible and unique cultural immersion experience. Volunteers can expect to share a twin room with one other volunteer or have their own private room if there is capacity; each bedroom has its own bathroom.

Isabela Island is very remote and it is important that volunteers are aware that internet reception is very spotty. There is WiFi in the office and in a few restaurants/cafes in town. Visitors cannot purchase a SIM card in Galapagos, only residents. Volunteers can purchase a SIM card on the mainland before traveling to the island, or use an international phone plan that covers them abroad. The Internet is too poor to expect to watch Netflix or have video calls while on the island.

Meals

Volunteers are provided with three meals per day (breakfast, lunch, and dinner). Breakfast and dinner are provided at the homestay and volunteers can expect fresh fruit, fried eggs, bread and cooked green plantains. Lunch is provided at local associated restaurants and volunteers will have a variety of menu items to choose from. Lunch and dinner meals will include protein (meat, fish), rice and some veggies (varied depending on the season) and meals often start with a soup and include a natural drink.

There is filtered water available in the local teams office and in homestays, and volunteers are requested to bring a reusable water bottle with them.

If you have any special dietary requirements, please let us know so we can make arrangements for you. However, we need to stress the point that you should not expect to eat as you normally do at home. We will do our best to see that you are well taken care of, but as a volunteer, there is a need to be flexible.

If you have any special dietary requirements, please make a note on your application so arrangements can be made. However, it is important that volunteers should not expect to eat as they normally do at home.

Pricing

  • USD

Spots are limited. For a Registration Fee of just US$329 (approximately AU$511) you secure your spot and unlock all our preparation and training tools.

You don't need to worry about paying your Program Fee until you get closer to your start date.

Duration
Program Fee
Due 30 days before you start, or within 48 hours if you register inside of 30 days. Covers the cost of hosting you.
  • USD
2 weeks $1,420 Equivalent to $101/day
3 weeks $1,940 Equivalent to $92/day
4 weeks $2,460 Equivalent to $88/day
5 weeks $2,980 Equivalent to $85/day
6 weeks $3,500 Equivalent to $83/day
8 weeks $4,540 Equivalent to $81/day
10 weeks $5,580 Equivalent to $80/day
12 weeks $6,620 Equivalent to $79/day
  • All programs attract a Registration Fee of US$329 (approximately AU$511) in addition to the Program Fee. This covers all pre-departure support services.
  • A 5% international banking fee is added at point of payment.
  • Program Fees for the Galapagos Islands program are non-refundable once inside 30 days of the program start date. Any changes or cancellations within 30 days of the program start date are subject to a US$500 late change/cancellation fee.
  • Breakfast, lunch, and dinner
  • Transient visa (for all volunteers aged 18+ - this visa is specific to Galapagos National Park only)
  • Local pickup
  • Return ferry from Santa Cruz to Isabela island
  • Accommodation
  • 24/7 in-country support
  • In-country program orientation
  • Pre-departure support from your Program Manager
  • Personalised preparation tools, guides and check lists
  • Access to IVHQ’s preferred insurance and flights partners
  • Certificate of International Volunteer Service

Learn more about what's included in your IVHQ Registration Fee and Program Fee.

  • Transit Control Card
  • Water taxis
  • Bus transfer from airport to ferry dock
  • Return bus from ferry to the airport when your program finishes
  • National Park Entry Fee (only required for volunteers under the age of 18)
  • Flights
  • Visa (if required), travel insurance (mandatory), vaccinations, criminal background check.
  • Personal spending money for snacks, laundry, public transportation, drinks and leisure activities during your free time.

Check what's required to visit the Galapagos Islands

Safety and support

Safety and support with IVHQ

Safety and support

IVHQ follows best practice and industry-leading health and safety procedures, which are regularly reviewed and optimized as part of the B Corporation recertification.

  • All volunteers encouraged to complete our interactive pre-departure training.
  • All local teams trained on best practice volunteer management & First Aid.
  • All IVHQ programs are required to adhere to IVHQ's Risk Management Policy.
  • All volunteers have access to 24/7 in-country support from our local team.
Learn more about IVHQ's safety

Essential country information

Essential country information

Capital Puerto Baquerizo Moreno on San Cristóbal
Population 2,500 on Isabela Island and 33,042 across the Galapagos Islands
Languages Spanish
Currency US Dollar (USD)
Time zone UTC-06:00

Weather and climate: Galapagos can be divided into three Climatic regions. The Pannonian Plains in the north have a continental climate of cold winters and hot summers, the mountainous Dinara Region in Central Galapagos has an alpine climate and the Adriatic coast, where our volunteer program is based, enjoys a Mediterranean climate of cool, rainy winters and hot, dry summers.

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