Research ASsistants 2023 – 2024

by | Jan 26, 2023

Application open for Research Assistants, sea turtle nesting season 2023-2024 

Join our team of Research Assitants! at any of our sea turtle nesting sites, south of the Nicoya Peninsula in Costa Rica!

Nesting beaches projects

About the organization: Centro de Rescate de Especies Marinas Amenazadas (CREMA) operates a multifaceted approach for the conservation of endangered marine species at several beaches Southern Nicoya Peninsula, Costa Rica. In our sea turtle nesting program, which opens annually during the Olive Ridley nesting season (June – January), we conduct beach monitoring (night patrols and morning censuses), nest relocations into project hatcheries, environmental education activities, and help on the environmental awareness with the local and international community, that also helps on generating job opportunities for the locals and promoting sustainable tourism development. Olive Ridleys (Lepidochelys olivacea) is the most frequent and main species that nest on these beaches, but there is also sporadic nesting of Green (Chelonia mydas), Leatherback (Dermochelys coriacea), and Hawksbill (Eretmochelys imbricata) sea turtles. Egg poaching is a major threat to the nesting sea turtles on these beaches. Secondary threats include nest predation, plastic pollution, beach development and erosion, and tourist traffic. On the beaches, CREMA directs all our efforts to prevent and ultimately decrease these threats.

Job title: Research Assistant

 Position: Volunteer-based, seasonal, must be available for evenings, weekends and holidays when necessary.  

Summary:  The Research Assistants are responsible for assisting the Project Coordinator with all aspects of the project, including managing volunteers, leading night patrols, organizing community environmental education activities, and with the station house maintenance. The Research Assistant candidates will be highly motivated, with a ready-to-learn attitude that thrives in team settings. The RAs will be actively engaged with an exciting community of volunteers, researchers, and local members wrapped in the magnificent mantra of the Costa Rican Pura Vida.

Program period:

 San Miguel

  1. Term 1: June 26th to September 9th, 2023
  2. Term 2: August 9th to October 10th, 2023
  3. Term 3: October 1st to December 15th, 2023

Costa de Oro

  1. Term 1: July 14th to September 27th, 2023
  2. Term 2: August 24th to November 7th, 2023
  3. Term 3: October 1st to December 15th, 2023

Corozalito and Bejuco**

  • Term 1 (only Corozalito): June 26th to September 9th, 2023
  • Term 2 (CZ and BE**): September 6th to November 20th, 2023
  • Term 3 (CZ and BE**): November 17th, 2023 to January 31st, 2024

**Program dates might change by the starting date of the season

Location: Positions are available at our four project sites located on the Southern Nicoya Peninsula, Guanacaste, Costa Rica:

San Miguel and Costa de Oro: these two beaches host several hundred nesting olive ridley sea turtles per season, with occasional nesting of green, hawksbill, and leatherback turtles. These project sites have a variable number of volunteers and visitors. San Miguel and Costa de Oro participants must be sociable and be willing to work with a constantly changing team.

Bejuco: this project site is operated under close collaboration with the small-scale sustainable fishing community of Bejuco, as it represents a sustainable source of income for its members. It is physically demanding due to the characteristics of the beach (steep, soft sand, length) and the challenges of monitoring its sea turtle hatchery. It is the most rustic and basic project of the four.

Corozalito: this beach hosts several thousand nesting olive ridley sea turtles per season and occasional nesting of green, hawksbill, and leatherback turtles. It is the most physically demanding project mostly due to the characteristics of its nesting activity.

Qualifications: Advanced university student or recent graduate in biological sciences or related fields. Minimum age: 20 y.o. Able to communicate in English and Spanish (conversational) – not excluding. Able to adapt to unexpected situations and unfamiliar cultures. Applicants must be available to work full dates (any term described above). Applicants must be reliable, responsible, self-starters, and have a drive for working in a team. Must have strong interpersonal, communication, decision making, logistical and organizational skills. Must feel comfortable working in the outdoors and/or isolated settings, be in a good physical condition (be able to lift 45Kg [100 pounds], walk on soft sand, etc) and able to undertake physical labour activities during night and day in extreme weather conditions while maintaining energy and stamina. Applicants must be able to accept and give feedback and maintain a motivated and positive environment.

Reports to: CREMA’s Sea Turtle Nesting Supervisors (Field and Research) and Project Coordinators.

Job duties: Research Assistants are trained to conduct and lead nightly 3–4-hour beach patrols, in which they take biometric data from nesting sea turtles, tag their front flippers, and move their nests to a protected area if there is one available.

Other responsibilities vary among the projects, and include the following:

  • Assisting in the training of new volunteers.
  • Leading volunteers and tourists on night patrols.
  • Conducting morning censuses to check the status of in situ nests.
  • Recording physical data such as precipitation levels and temperatures.
  • Building and maintaining the project hatchery.
  • Monitoring the hatchery during the night and day for emerging hatchlings and intruding predators.
  • Excavation of nests and collecting data on unhatched eggs.
  • Community environmental education activities.
  • Assist in gathering content for digital publications (social media platforms)
  • Maintaining and cleaning the station house.

Although there is an important research aspect integrated in the position; most of these projects are financed via a volunteer program held by Turtle Trax S.A. It is essential that both coordinators and research assistants make a conscious effort to make the volunteers feel included and part of the research team as well as provide them with a positive experience during their stay.  

 Benefits/Costs: This is an UNPAID position; Research assistants are expected to stay at the project site for the entire term for which they are selected. RAs pay an USD $1200-1800 fee that covers three basic meals and accommodation for the entire internship. Turtle Trax and CREMA provide a training workshop upon arrival. This includes several lectures on current sea turtle conservation research topics, safety training, team building activities, and field research training. All RAs have the option of participating in the Independent Research Project Program, in which they can complete a project with their team during the internship with the assistance of one of CREMA’s biologists. All interns must follow the Turtle Trax/CREMA Program Rules for the entire duration of their placement. Failure to do so results in immediate termination of placement without refund.

Application Instructions: Please submit a resume, cover letter, and three references to gracielapp@cremacr.org, ninive.espinoza@cremacr.org and nestingresearch@gmail.com. Please make the subject line “RESEARCH ASSISTANT POSITION_ (your last name)” so it does not get lost.  Candidates who do not meet the skills and qualifications laid out in this document will not be considered.