Join our team of Research Assistants at any of our sea turtle nesting sites at Southern Nicoya Peninsula, in the heart of Costa Rica!

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.

We operate a multifaceted approach for the conservation of sea turtles, including; applying several scientific methodologies on field, conduct beach patrols, hatchery management, conduct climate change impact protocols, develop environmental education activities, and awareness with the local community, generating job opportunities for the locals, and promoting sustainable tourism development. Research Assistants are responsible for assisting the project coordinator in all aspects of running the project. It is crucial that assistants bring a positive attitude to the project, work well within a team, be adaptable to a variety of situations, and be prepared to partake in ALL aspects of the project.

Period

Term 1 San Miguel and Costa de Oro: 07thJuly – 17th September
Term 2 San Miguel and Costa de Oro: 15th August – 25 October
Term 3 San Miguel and Costa de Oro: 05th October – 15th December
Term 1 Corozalito: 07th July – 21st September
Term 2 Corozalito: 25th September – 5th December
Term 3 Corozalito: 21st November – 31 January 2025

Location

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 turtles. These project sites have a variable number of volunteers and visitors. San Miguel and Costa de Oro participants must be sociable, emphatic, resilient and be willing to work with a constantly changing team.
  • 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. Also require a strong social skill to interact with the communitarian touristic activities.

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.

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.

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.

Requirements

This is an unpaid position; Research Assistants are expected to stay at the project site for the entire term for which they are selected. Terms usually last between 75 to 80 days (with a possible extension) but not less than two months. 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. 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.

Preference will be given to potential applicants that meet the following requirements:

  • Advanced university student or recent graduate in biological sciences or related fields.
  • Conversational in Spanish and English.
  • Independent, reliable, and responsible.
  • Motivated and positive.
  • Able to adapt to unexpected situations and unfamiliar cultures.
  • Able to undertake physical labor, both during night and day in extreme weather conditions.
  • Respectful and curios to other cultures.
  • Experience working within a team.
  • Strong interpersonal communication skills.
  • Comfortable working in the outdoors or isolated settings
  • Previous experience with sea turtles or conducting field research.

Since many of the research assistants’ responsibilities are physically demanding, they are expected to be in good physical and medical shape. Also, since our projects are in isolated locations where access to medical treatment can be challenging, participants must disclose any medical conditions or possible risks before confirming their placement with our program. It is important to keep in mind the frequent changes in entry requirements and guidelines from the Costa Rican government and the Health Ministry according to the status of COVID-19 in the country.

Benefits/Costs

  • Research Assistants (RAs) pay $180 (SM-CD) and $120 (CZ) per week that covers three-basic meals and accommodation for the entire internship. The minimum period is 10 weeks.
  • 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 Program Rules for the entire duration of their placement. Failure to do so results in immediate termination of placement without refund.

Additional Contact Information

Application Information

  • Cover letter, specifying which period and location options you would prefer (Presented as Full Name-Letter).
  • Resume/CV (Presented as Full Name-CV)
  • List of the email addresses of at least 3 references.

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.