Our planet’s seven species of sea turtle have captured the fascination of conservationists and concerned citizens the world over. In this guide, we profile sea turtle conservation internships and volunteer opportunities around the world where you can help these amazing species.

Download your copy of the Top Sea Turtle Conservation Internships & Volunteer Opportunities!

Maybe it’s the story of their against-all-odds journey from egg to open ocean and back, completing one of nature’s most impressive life cycles. Or maybe it’s their graceful movements and ancient, otherworldly presence that captivate us.

But if we’re not careful, we’ll lose the opportunity to marvel at these ancient creatures. Because despite the fact that they’ve been around for millions of years, today sea turtles are up against a whole host of human-induced threats.


As if this journey wasn’t hard enough, six of the seven sea turtle species are listed as Threatened on the IUCN Red List due to human activities.

Of the seven species of sea turtle – green, hawksbill, loggerhead, leatherback, olive ridley, Kemp’s ridley and flatback – six are listed as threatened on the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species and two are classified as Critically Endangered.

Despite being protected in most countries, turtles are still hunted around the world. Their eggs, meat and shells are illegally traded and consumed, while their oil is used in cosmetics and leather. There is a particularly high demand for tortoiseshell – the common name for the hawksbill’s carapace.

At the ocean’s surface, turtles are vulnerable to boat strike. Below, they can become entangled in ghost gear (lost, abandoned or discarded fishing gear) that appears like shelter – leading to injury, exhaustion, starvation, dehydration and death.


Marine debris, including ‘ghost gear’ is one of many threats to sea turtles. Credit: Holly Richards / U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service / Flickr.

Many turtles are captured, injured and killed through by-catch, or accidental capture in gill-nets, trawl-nets and longline hooks.

With an estimated 8 million metric tons of plastic waste entering our oceans every year, and somewhere between 93,000 and 236,000 metric tons of microplastic in the ocean, plastic and other marine debris are also a major cause of death.

Ingesting marine debris can cause death by damaging their digestive systems or exposure to chemicals, and turtles often mistake plastic bags for jellyfish prey.

Closer to shore, coastal development – such as sea walls and sandbags – can result in beach erosion, reducing space for nesting turtles or flooding nests.

Artificial lighting on nesting beaches can confuse and disorient female turtles and hatchlings. This can prevent nesting or alter turtles’ navigation and cause them to travel inland instead of out to sea. Meanwhile climate change can alter sand temperatures, affecting the sex of hatchlings.

This WWF infographic sums up the conservation status of sea turtle species and the threats they face.

sea turtles infographic

Credit: WWF. Available at: worldwildlife.org/infographic-sea-turtles.

How you can help? Turtle conservation internships and volunteering

With turtles facing such a myriad of threats, there is no shortage of reasons to get involved through turtle conservation internships or volunteering. And with turtles found in all the planet’s oceans except at the poles, the opportunities to help in a hands-on way are diverse and exciting (and available year-round!)


A global summary of all the sea turtle conservation internships and volunteer opportunities we’ve listed on Conservation Careers as of June 2019.

Sea turtle conservation internships and volunteer programmes are also a popular way to launch – or test-drive – a career in conservation.

If you’re passionate about turtles and marine conservation, the organisations featured in this post could be a great starting point. Pick the right programme for you and you’ll stand to gain experience and valuable contacts, not to mention an unforgettable – possibly life-changing – experience.


Organisation Location Programme type Species Dates Duration Cost
Atoll Volunteers Maldives Volunteering Hawksbill, Green, Olive Ridley, Loggerhead, Leatherback Year-round 2-12 weeks From USD $1,680 for 2 weeks
Caño Palma Biological Station Costa Rica Volunteering, Internships Green, Leatherback, Hawksbill May – October/ November Minimum 2 weeks USD $255-$310 / week
GVI Thailand Volunteering, Internships Varies Varies Varies Varies
Hawaii Marine Animal Response Hawaii Volunteering, Internships Green, Hawksbill Varies Varies Varies
LAMAVE Philippines Volunteering Green Year-round Minimum 3 months USD $450 / month
The Leatherback Trust Costa Rica Volunteering Leatherback September/ October – March


Varies Varies
Lang Tengah Turtle Watch  Malaysia Volunteering Green, Hawksbill March – October Minimum 1 week £250.00 GBP for 1 week
Madagascar Research & Conservation Institute


Madagascar Volunteering Hawksbill, Green, Loggerhead, Olive Ridley Year-round
  1. 1 – 12 weeks
From USD $650 for 1 week


Maio Biodiversity Foundation Cape Verde Volunteering Loggerhead Varies  Varies Varies
Marine Savers Maldives Internships Green, Hawksbill, Olive-Ridley, Leatherback, Loggerhead Year-round 70-90 days No fee
Natucate Seychelles Volunteering Green, Hawksbill Year-round 26-52 days From 2.500 €
Ningaloo Turtle Program Australia Volunteering Green, Loggerhead, Hawksbill December – January 5 weeks AUD $1,300 for 5 weeks
Project Biodiversity Cape Verde Volunteering, Internships Loggerhead July – December Minimum 1 week Varies
Sea Turtle Conservancy Costa Rica, Florida, Panama Volunteering, field assistantships Loggerhead, Leatherback, Green March – November Minimum 1 week From USD $1,397 for 1 week


Sea Turtle Inc. Texas Volunteering, Internships Kemp’s ridley


March – August Minimum 3 months part-time No fee

Society for the Protection of Turtles
Cyprus Volunteering Green, Loggerhead April – October 4-8 weeks £700 for 6-8 weeks
Tengah Island Conservation Malaysia Volunteering Green, Hawksbill February – November 9 weeks From RM 5,000 for 9 weeks
Turtle Foundation Cape Verde Volunteering Loggerhead June – October Minimum 2 weeks From € 280 for two weeks


The Turtle Survival Alliance USA Internships Varies July – September Minimum 2 months USD $500 / month
Turtle Trax Costa Rica Volunteering, Internships Olive Ridley, Green, Leatherback, Hawksbill June – December/ January Minimum 1 week Varies


Atoll Volunteers


Atoll Volunteers believes in keeping a healthy balance between work and fun. Credit: Atoll Volunteers.

At a glance:

Species: Hawksbill, Green, Olive Ridley, Loggerhead, Leatherback
Location: Naifaru Island, Maldives
Focus: Turtle husbandry, running the Marine Centre, coral gardening, data collection and community outreach.
Programme type: Sea turtle conservation volunteering
Dates: Start dates any day of the week
Duration: 2-12 weeks (at least 3 weeks recommended) for volunteers
Cost: Starts at USD $1,680 for 2 weeks and decreases for longer commitments. The fee covers in country transfers, accommodation in Naifaru, 3 meals a day, activities and a weekly excursion.

Based at the Atoll Marine Centre, Atoll Volunteers rescues turtles from the illegal pet trade, as well as turtles injured by ghost nets, rehabilitates them and releases them back into the wild.

Perfect for budding conservationists, Atoll Volunteers’ marine conservation volunteer programme offers volunteers the chance to be an integral part of their team, working with their two resident marine biologists on the day to day running of the Marine Centre and turtle husbandry activities, from cleaning and feeding, to assisting with administrating medical treatment.

Volunteers also have the opportunity to gain experience in coral gardening, conduct reef monitoring surveys on atoll islands and support community outreach activities such as beach cleans and marine awareness sessions – thus having a real impact on marine conservation efforts.


Atoll Volunteers offers both turtle conservation internships and volunteering. Credit: Atoll Volunteers.

You’ll hone practical conservation skills to enhance your future career prospects, experience the ‘real’ Maldives as part of a tight-knit, friendly community and have a healthy balance of work and play with weekly excursions including snorkelling, visiting uninhabited islands, and BBQs.

You’ll gain first-hand practical experience in international marine conservation with a locally-run NGO.

Why are volunteers needed?

“Our marine programme and projects are extensive, and relies on volunteer support to help us achieve all our conservation aims. Simply put, without volunteers we would not be able to ensure the upkeep and continued operation of Atoll Marine Centre”.

Atoll Volunteers also offers several long-term positions for international applicants including: a Volunteer Coordinator, two Marine Biologists and an Aquarium Biologist. Together they manage the day-to-day running of Atoll Volunteers and Atoll Marine Centre.

“With such a great amount of responsibility, these internships are a valuable opportunity to gain practical experience in conservation to enhance a future career, or as a well deserved sabbatical!”

Learn more about opportunities with Atoll Volunteers.


Caño Palma Biological Station

view over a rainforest

This could be the view from your new home! Credit: COTERC.

At a glance:

Species: Green, Leatherback, Hawksbill
Location: Tortuguero, Costa Rica
Focus: Nighttime beach patrols and data collection
Programme type: Sea turtle conservation volunteering and internships
Dates: May to October/November
Duration: Minimum 2 weeks (volunteers); minimum 6 weeks (interns)
Cost: USD $255-$310 per week depending on length of stay

Founded and supported by the Canadian Organization For Tropical Education and Rainforest Conservation (COTERC), Caño Palma Station’s mission is to provide leadership in education, research, conservation, and the educated use of natural resources in the tropics.

Every year, volunteers and interns provide the manpower needed to patrol the beach at night, collect data and safeguard nesting turtles. Data collected is shared with local government agencies and other partners all around the world.

Volunteers help complete surveys and increase capacity for patrols, while interns ensure that all aspects of the project are completed to the highest standard and play a greater role in achieving education goals.

COTREC team and small animals

Credit: Caño Palma Biological Station.

Depending on intern applicant’s education, previous experience and length of commitment, internship options include:

  • Basic Turtle Internships – interns cover room and board. Open to graduates or students of relevant academic course (biology/conservation).
  • Turtle research assistant – room and board covered, previous experience with tagging nesting turtles required.
  • Head Community/Education Internships – room and board covered, Spanish language skills required. Minimum commitment 6 months.
  • Basic Community Internship – interns cover room and board, Spanish language skills required.
  • Head Turtle Internship – applications for next season close October 31st. 8 month commitment.

Interns are eligible for a reference at the end of their stay, and those who excel get first notice or offer on Research Assistant  and employment opportunities.

For more information on the specific turtle conservation internship options available, check out their Internships page.

A drone's eye view of the Caño Palma Biological Station

A drone’s eye view of the station. Credit: Caño Palma Biological Station.

Volunteers have the chance to gain conservation skills while working with trained staff on turtle monitoring surveys and community-based conservation programmes.

Both interns and volunteers live and work in the Caño Palma Biological Station in the north-east Caribbean lowland rainforest of Costa Rica. Located in one of the most biodiverse regions of Latin America, the station sits within a network of protected areas, surrounded by a vast and ancient floodplain covered by a mosaic of swamp forests, palm forests, lagoons, mixed hardwoods, canals and coastal ecosystems.



At a glance:

Species: Green
Location: Phang Nga, Thailand
Focus: Focus: Cleaning turtles and tanks, treating wounds, collecting data, conducting studies, and (timing-dependent), assisting with releases.
Programme type: Sea turtle conservation volunteering
Cost: Varies – see programme for details.

Travel to Thailand to support endangered green turtle conservation and research along with a team of international volunteers. Contribute to a range of other conservation initiatives during your time on the project, advancing United Nations Sustainable Development Goals, UN SDGs, #14 and #15, Life Below Water and Life on Land, and get taste of what a career in conservation is really like. In your free time, island hop around the South coast of Thailand, go snorkeling among the many reefs, or visit sacred Buddhist sites.


Credit: GVI.

This volunteer program in Thailand gives you a chance to contribute to conserving green sea turtles, as well as contributing to other ongoing conservation initiatives while living and working with GVI staff and other participants from around the world.

In partnership with the Phang Nga Coastal Fisheries Research and Development Centre, The Royal Thai Navy, Sea Turtle Conservation Centre, we work to increase numbers of the endangered green sea turtle. As beaches used by mother sea turtles for nesting are still in recovery, hatchlings are raised in sea turtle conservation and research centres. At the head-start centre, turtles are reared from hatchlings to a size where they will face less risk of predation upon release.

Here volunteers, assist by cleaning turtle tanks and turtles with scrubbing brushes, treating any wounds that turtles may have with antibacterial and antifungal medical ointments, assisting with collecting morphological data and conducting studies of which resources keep turtles engaged and learning, encouraging cognitive and social development, and, if they are lucky enough to be on the program during a release date, assist with releasing hundreds of young turtles back into the ocean.

Learn more about volunteering with sea turtles in Thailand.


Hawaii Marine Animal Response


An adult green sea turtle. Credit: HMAR.

At a glance:

Species: Green, Hawksbill
Location: islands of Oahu and Molokai, Hawaii
Focus: Growing active and engaged community support, managing and increasing protected species populations, and saving animals that need help.
Programme type: Sea turtle conservation volunteering and internships

Hawaii Marine Animal Response (HMAR) is the largest Hawaii-based non-profit marine species conservation response organisation, with a mission to “undertake substantial actions that result in the preservation, recovery and stewardship of Hawaii’s protected marine species and the ocean ecosystem we share”.

Their team of volunteers, interns and staff cover the islands of Oahu and Molokai, responding to calls involving protected marine species, including sea turtles, to provide shoreline response, stranding assistance, outreach, health management and rescue.

By being present in the field, and holding regular outreach and education activities in schools and at community events, they engage with tens of thousands of people each year to build understanding, stewardship and support for Hawaii’s protected marine species and coastal ecosystem.

HMAR offers volunteer opportunities for people who can commit to a minimum activity level, as well as internships for undergraduates and graduates of marine biology, ecology, ocean sciences or related fields.

You can learn more about HMAR’s volunteer and internship opportunities on their website: h-mar.org/get-involved




Credit: LAMAVE.

At a glance:

Species: Green
Location: Philippines
Focus: Assessing turtle populations
Programme type: Sea turtle conservation volunteering
Dates: Year-round
Duration: Minimum 3 months
Cost: USD $450 / month

Large Marine Vertebrates Research Institute Philippines (LAMAVE) is a non-profit organisation dedicated to the research and conservation of marine megafauna and the marine environment in the Philippines.

“Green, hawksbill, olive Ridley and leatherback turtles can be found across the [Philippines] archipelago, whereas loggerheads remain a mystery though known to occur in the country”. 

Turtle rescue and release

Turtle rescue and release. Credit: LAMAVE.

Since 2011, LAMAVE has worked with turtles, and since 2013 they’ve provided support to the Apo Island Protected Landscape and Seascape (AIPLAS) Management Board, to understand how the turtle population use the protected area.

Their work involves ID’ing the individual Green Turtles of Apo Island via facial photo ID – a new, minimally-invasive technique – for mark-recapture analyses.


An example of turtle photo ID. Credit: LAMAVE.

“Identifying each turtle allows the team to conduct focal follow studies to investigate any impact the tourism might be having on individuals.

“We can study whether the turtle’s behaviour changes once tourists are in close proximity, for example if we study its breathing rate with and without tourists present we can see if this increases or decreases, or, whether the turtle swims away when a tourist approaches”.

LAMAVE also aims to raise awareness about the unique habitat and history of Apo Island and its amazing biodiversity, thus improving the tourism experience and ensuring its long-term sustainability.


Green turtle infographic by Nailah Alam. Credit: LAMAVE.

LAMAVE trains volunteers in research techniques aimed to prepare them to collect data towards long-term scientific goals and policy making.

To ensure there is always an opportunity to grow and learn, every LAMAVE project accepting volunteers hosts at least one local [Filipino] Scholar.

Volunteers become very knowledgeable in turtle biology, ecology and research techniques applicable to other species, including photo-ID and how it can be used to understand residency patterns. You’ll learn how to study turtle behaviour though focal follows, as well as helping input data and manage datasets.

(Plus did we mention access to one of the best green turtle snorkelling experiences in the Philippines on Apo Island?)


The Apo Island LAMAVE Turtle Project Team. Credit: LAMAVE.

Learn more about volunteering with LAMAVE on their volunteer page where you can download their info pack.


The Leatherback Trust


TLT’s Education Programs target local communities, schools, tourists and the public to raise awareness about sea turtles and engage them as conservation partners. Credit: TLT.

At a glance:

Species: Leatherback
Location: Playa Grande (Las Baulas National Park) and Playa Cabuyal, Costa Rica
Focus: Beach patrols, data collection, nest monitoring, community outreach
Programme type: Sea turtle conservation volunteering
Dates: September/October to March (nesting season)
Duration: See The Leatherback Trust’s website for details
Cost: Contact The Leatherback Trust for details

The Leatherback Trust (TLT)’s collaborates with Earthwatch to enable volunteers to participate in conservation activities.

At Playa Grande in Las Baulas National Park, volunteers join TLT’s research team at the Goldring-Gund Station and patrol the beach during leatherback nesting season from October to March, collecting data on nesting turtles and monitoring nests.


Use this nesting season diagram to plan your trip. Credit: TLT.

Volunteers also have the opportunity to engage in community outreach activities and explore the park’s estuaries, home to crocodiles and monkeys.

Visit TLT’s website to learn more about volunteering at Playa Grande and Playa Cabuyal.


Lang Tengah Turtle Watch


Volunteers help save turtles from poachers. Credit: Lang Tengah Turtle Watch.

At a glance:

Species: Green, Hawksbill
Location: Lang Tengah Island, off the East Coast of Peninsular Malaysia
Focus: Monitoring turtle landings and saving their eggs from poachers
Programme type: Sea turtle conservation volunteering
Dates: Fixed dates from approximately March to October
Duration: Minimum 1 week
Cost: £250.00 GBP for 1 week for international volunteers and MYR 600.00 for 1 week for local volunteers; discounts for longer stays.

“20 years ago, [the east coast of Peninsular Malaysia] was a prolific breeding-ground for four species of turtle, now only two remain.” 

Egg poaching is common along the coastline and has been largely responsible for the elimination of Leatherback and Olive-Ridley turtles from the region. Lang Tengah Turtle Watch focusses on ensuring that new generations of sea turtles make it out to sea.

This requires a constant presence on the island and regular patrols of nesting beaches by night, relocating any nests that are laid on other beaches back to the safety of Turtle Beach.

Turtle hatchlings

Turtle hatchlings. Credit: Lang Tengah Turtle Watch.

“Our patrols are hardly run-of-the-mill, unless you consider fireflies, phosphorescence, copious amounts of shooting stars, distant lightning and ancient creatures hauling themselves out of the sea as ordinary things to encounter”.

Volunteers on Lang Tengah – ‘The Eagle in the Middle’ – act as dedicated guardians to stop the poaching activity on the island. They assist nightly patrols along the beaches in search of nesting mothers, split into shifts between 9pm and 6am. The reward? The (possible) rare privilege of watching a turtle laying eggs or hatchlings journeying to the water’s edge.

Curious to know what life is like as a volunteer on Lang Tengah?


Madagascar Research & Conservation Institute


Credit: Madagascar Research & Conservation Institute.

At a glance:

Species: Hawksbill, Green, Loggerhead, Olive Ridley
Location:Nosy Komba Island, Madagascar
Focus: Identifying and developing Safe Turtle Breeding Zones in North Western Madagascar
Programme type: Sea turtle conservation volunteering
Dates:Year-round, starting the first and third Monday of every month; nesting season October to March
Duration: From 1 week to 12 weeks
Cost: USD $650 for 1 week; discounts for longer stays

Madagascar Research & Conservation Institute (MRCI)’s Sea Turtle Monitoring Program was established to identify and develop Safe Turtle Breeding Zones in North Western Madagascar.

They successfully implemented a “Safe Turtle Nesting Zone” on Nosy Komba Island with the support of the local community, which is monitored 24/7 to ensure the safety of turtles and their eggs.

As an MRCI volunteer, you’ll help identify nesting areas by visiting remote beaches on islands surrounding the island of Nosy Be. Trained in species ID and data collection protocols, your main focus will be to collect and record species, nesting and size-related data needed to estimate population dynamics and nesting distributions in North Western Madagascar.

Your home base will be at Turtle Cove, the Madagascar Volunteer research centre located on Nosy Komba island. Turtle Cove overlooks Nosy Be and the world-famous Lokobe Forest Reserve, with easy access to MRCI’s home coral reef, which we had recently declared a Marine Protected Area.


At Turtle Cove, you’ll have a great work-life balance. Credit: Madagascar Research & Conservation Institute.

MRCI’s primary goals are to:

  • Map and identify beaches used as nesting sites.
  • Identify species diversity and numbers.
  • Engage and establish a relationship with the local communities enabling us to include them in our conservation efforts.
  • Monitor and remove plastic waste and other harmful products from the beaches.

“With the collaborative effort of our volunteers, who play a vitally important role in assisting to achieve our goals, MRCI will continue to strive to protect endangered sea turtle species in their natural habitat as well as to promote public awareness by further collaborating with local communities and national authorities”.

Learn more about volunteering with MRCI’s Sea Turtle Monitoring Program here.


Maio Biodiversity Foundation


Credit: FMB.

At a glance:

Species: Loggerhead
Location: Maio, Cape Verde
Focus: Patrolling beaches at night to protect nesting females from poachers, tagging and monitoring turtles, working with the fishermen of Maio to estimate the amount of turtle by-catch and mitigate its effects.
Programme type: Sea turtle conservation volunteering
Duration, Dates & Cost: See the Maio Biodiversity FoundationFacebook page.


Releasing a sea turtle. Credit: FMB.

The Maio Biodiversity Foundation (Fundação Maio Biodiversidade – FMB)’s goal is to protect the unique fauna and flora of Maio Island while creating opportunities and long-term benefits for its people though sustainable & eco-friendly economic development.

Their Turtle Protection Program involves night patrolling of beaches to protect nesting females from poachers, tagging and monitoring turtles, working with the fishermen of Maio to estimate the amount of turtle by-catch and mitigate its effects, and more.

Their sea turtle conservation program has won the International Sea Turtle Society’s Grassroots Conservation Award in 2015 for their community-based sea turtle conservation program.
You can learn more about volunteering with FMB via their Facebook page.


Marine Savers


‘Chippy’ was rescued after becoming entangled in a fishing net. She was taken to Marine Savers’ turtle rescue centre at Landaa Giraavaru to recover from a flipper amputation and released with a satellite tracking tag. Credit: Marine Savers.

At a glance:

Species: Green, Hawksbill, Olive-Ridley, Leatherback, Loggerhead
Location: Maldives
Focus: Turtle feeding and care of sick animals, monitoring health and growth.
Programme type: Sea turtle conservation internships
Dates: Year-round
Duration: 70 to 90 days
Cost: No fee. The intern package includes: return transfers between the resort and Malé; shared accommodation with other same-sex resort staff members; 3 meals per day + tea breaks; uniform, including polo T-shirt, shorts and board shorts; 1 day off per week (with complementary excursion when available)

If you’re a post-graduate marine biology (or similar) student working towards an MSc or PhD qualification, you could join one of Marine Savers’ Marine Biology Internships.

Interns assist Marine Savers’ experienced team of marine biologists with all conservation projects, which include:

  • Turtle Conservation – Assist with turtle feeding and care of sick animals; clean pools and monitor health/growth.
  • Coral Propagation – Collect coral fragments, transplant the frame, maintain and photograph existing frames, and interact with guests and local children to educate them about coral reefs.
  • Guest Excursions – Give marine life presentations and guided snorkel safaris, increasing awareness of marine biology and conservation in the Maldives.
  • Aquaculture (where appropriate) – including tank cleaning, fish feeding, larval rearing, monitoring.
  • Personal Project – Develop a personal project, ideally under supervision from your college/university.

Interns work 6 days per week between the hours of 09:00 and 18:00.


‘Trooper’ testing out a pair of prosthetic flippers. Credit: Marine Savers.

Want to know what life’s like as an intern? Check out Marine Savers’ internship blog.



This volunteer project helps protect wildlife and island flora on Seychelles’ North Island. Credit: Natucate.

At a glance:

Species: Green Sea Turtle, Hawksbill Sea Turtle, (Aldabra Giant Tortoise)
Location: North Island, Seychelles
Focus: Daily beach patrols to mark and monitor sea turtle populations.
Programme type: Sea turtle conservation volunteering
Dates: At least one start date per month throughout the year
Duration: 26 to 52 days
Cost: From 2.500 €

Today, volunteers work hand in hand with the locals to protect the natural environment of Seychelles and to experience the incomparable beauty and fascinating biodiversity of this authentic island paradise off the east coast of Africa. Until the 1970s, intensive coconut plantations strongly impacted this natural environment and put pressure on native species. In the 1990s, it was decided to restore the original ecosystem by combining nature conservation and ecotourism to finance the renaturation measures.


  • Become involved in marine conservation
  • Help monitor endangered species
  • Be part of an international team restoring an ecosystem

The work on North Island covers a range of conservation-orientated projects spanning terrestrial and marine aspects. The conservation volunteers will get involved in all the activities of the Environmental Department, from fieldwork to data entry. The current main volunteer priorities and activities are turtle monitoring and turtle nest monitoring, Giant Aldabra tortoise monitoring, alien vegetation control, projects related to the reintroduction of endemic bird species and marine monitoring by snorkelling along coral reefs

“Since most turtles are starting to come to the beach, night patrols belong to the daily routine. With a beautiful sky full of stars, this is more fun than actual work.” – Petra

This volunteer project involves daily beach patrols to mark and monitor sea turtle populations, rehabilitate the endemic vegetation and snorkelling to collect data on existing fish species. Credit: Natucate.

Volunteers will live in the staff village in a shared accommodation volunteer house. The staff beach on North Island provides the perfect opportunity to go swimming, snorkelling or even a sundowner after work in the afternoons.

Are you interested in helping to protect Seychelles’ wildlife and island flora, while living in close harmony with nature? Learn more on Natucate’s website.

Besides the Seychelles project, Natucate also offers a conservation project in Costa Rica where you can contribute to the survival of endangered sea turtle species by helping the animals lay their eggs on a safe stretch of beach, monitoring their clutches and collecting data during night-time beach patrols. Find out more about volunteering in Costa Rica with Natucate.


Ningaloo Turtle Program

Morning monitoring and track counts by volunteers. Credit: NTP.

At a glance:

Species: Green, Loggerhead, Hawksbill
Location: Ningaloo Reef, Western Australia
Focus: Monitoring nesting beaches for turtle activity
Programme type: Sea turtle conservation volunteering
Dates: December to January
Duration: 5 weeks
Cost: AUD $1,300 for 5weeks

Developed by the Cape Conservation Group (CCG); the Department of Biodiversity, Conservation and Attractions (DBCA); Murdoch University and WWF Australia, the Ningaloo Turtle Program contributes to the conservation of marine turtles and their habitats.

By researching breeding habits and issues such as fox predation, beach access management, turtle tourism and interpretation/education requirements, the NTP helps management, planning and development agencies along the Ningaloo coast make conservation-based decisions.

Every year, volunteer “Turtle Trackers” help record turtle nesting data along the beaches of the North West Cape in Western Australia.


Learn to ID Loggerhead turtle tracks as a ‘Turtle Tracker’. Credit: NTP.

Volunteers start a typical day at 5:30am, spending 4-5 hours collecting data on turtle nesting beaches. The rest of the day is theirs to explore the Ningaloo Coast, enjoy Exmouth township’s laid-back lifestyle, travel inland to some of the spectacular gorges in Cape Range National Park, or join regular volunteer social activities.

Volunteers might also get involved in data entry, remote camping on the Ningaloo Reef and monitoring isolated beaches, and assisting with turtle rescues.

You can learn more about volunteering as a Turtle Tracker on the NTP website.


Project Biodiversity


Project Biodiversity offers sea turtle conservation internships and volunteering opportunities in Cape Verde. Credit: Project Biodiversity.

At a glance:

Species: Loggerhead
Location: Sal, Cape Verde
Focus: Track ID, collection of biometric data, microchipping and ID-ing females, nest relocations and excavations, leading volunteers
Programme type: Sea turtle conservation volunteering and internships
Dates: July – December
Duration: Minimum 1 week (volunteering)
Cost: Varies – see the Project Biodiversity website for details
Benefits: Accommodation and meals in camp (internships)

Based on the island of Sal, Project Biodiversity is a Cabo Verdean organisation committed to conserving and restoring the island’s unique ecosystems. The project implements community-based initiatives that promote conservation and better understanding of the island’s natural resources while increasing economic opportunities for the growing local community.


A loggerhead hatchling heads to sea. Credit: Project Biodiversity.

As an intern with Project Biodiversity’s multicultural team you’ll gain valuable field experience including ID-ing tracks, collecting biometric data, microchipping and identifying previously tagged females, and relocating and excavating nests.


At night you’ll patrol to deter hunters and collect data on track identification, tagging and measuring the turtles. During the day you’ll patrol to relocate nests to the hatchery or other locations on the beach. After the end of the nesting season, you’ll be responsible for monitoring and excavating hatched nests and releasing hatchlings.

After your training period, you’ll have the opportunity to lead patrols and train and supervise volunteers, gaining solid work experience that will help to continue your career in conservation.
Project Biodiversity recruits both Marine Turtle Nesting Season Volunteers and Hatchling Season Volunteers.
Marine Turtle Nesting Season Volunteers participate in all aspects of the project, including night patrols to protect and collect data on nesting sea turtles, hatchling releases, hatchery maintenance, and community outreach.

The presence of volunteers in in the field camp is also an important morale booster for the project as a whole, as they bring a sense of enthusiasm, passion and unique perspectives.

Hatchling Season Volunteers stay overnight in the hatchery, monitoring hundreds of nests and releasing thousands of baby turtles to the ocean. They also patrol the main beaches of Sal Island at sunrise to check the nests that are ready to hatch and to help lost or entangled baby turtles reach the sea.

For those looking to kick start their career in conservation, this could be your chance to gain valuable experience in the third largest nesting site for Loggerheads in the world.

Learn more about Project Biodiversity’s turtle conservation internships and volunteer opportunities, plus listen to Albert from Project Biodiversity explain why sea turtles need your help.

Sea Turtle Conservancy

Posing with a Sea Turtle

Sea Turtle Conservancy offers turtle conservation programmes in Panama, Costa Rica and Florida. Credit: Lexie Beach.

At a glance:

Species: Loggerhead, Leatherback, Green
Location: Panama, Costa Rica, Florida
Focus: Research, education, advocacy
Programme type: Sea turtle conservation volunteering and seasonal field assistantships
Dates: March – November
Cost: From USD $1,397 for 1 week (volunteering). Room and board provided from some seasonal field assistantships.

Sea Turtle Conservancy is the world’s oldest sea turtle research and conservation group. For nearly 60 years they have worked to protect and conserve sea turtles and their habitats from extinction through research, education and advocacy.

For Lexie Beach, Sea Turtle Conservancy’s Communication Coordinator, interning and volunteering was key to securing her dream job.

“I volunteered my time and collaborated on several special projects… One of those projects just happened to be Sea Turtle Conservancy’s “Tour de Turtles” event. Little did I know that was my future employer! Moral of the story is that it’s so important to step outside your comfort zone and make connections so you can get your foot in the door of something you’re really passionate about!”

Posing with a Sea Turtle

Sea Turtle Conservancy offers turtle conservation programmes in Panama, Costa Rica and Florida. Credit: Lexie Beach. Credit: Lexie Beach.

“You can never do too many internships!” adds Lexie. “Also be prepared for those internships to be unpaid!”

“When I was in college I interned at the Smithsonian’s National Zoo, the Louisville Zoo, the Indianapolis Zoo, and worked part-time for the local Humane Society. It was through these internship experiences that I realized what career path I wanted to pursue and how I could use my abilities to help animals and educate people.”

Sea Turtle Conservancy offers experiences in Panama, Costa Rica and Florida, as well as seasonal field assistantships. Or, like Lexie, you can check out their Tour de Turtles event.


Sea Turtle Inc.


Khrystyne Jamerson is a great example of turtle conservation internships leading to paid work. She interned at Sea Turtle Inc. prior to being hired as a full-time educator. Credit: Khrystyne Jamerson.

At a glance:

Species: Kemp’s ridley turtles
Location: South Padre Island, Texas
Focus: Education, rehabilitation and conservation
Programme type: Sea turtle conservation volunteering and internships
Dates: March – August
Duration: Minimum 4 shifts per month for minimum 3 months (volunteers)
Cost: No fee. Housing and daily stipend provided for internships.

Sea Turtle Inc. was founded in 1977 to aid in the protection and recovery of the Endangered Kemp’s ridley sea turtle and has since expanded to include education, rehabilitation and conservation. Their mission is to “rescue and rehabilitate injured sea turtles for release back into the wild, educate the public and assist with conservation efforts for all marine turtle species”.

Sea Turtle Inc. offers both volunteering and internship opportunities.

Their internship is a multi-disciplinary programme that aims to provide interns with experience in public eduction, nest conservation and sea turtle rehabilitation.

Interns must be college graduates in biological sciences, wildlife and fisheries science, environmental science or related fields, or currently in college, and must hold a valid driver’s license and be able to work in the U.S.

Khrystyne Jamerson

Khrystyne Jamerson is a great example of turtle conservation internships leading to paid work. She interned at Sea Turtle Inc. prior to being hired as a full-time educator. Credit: Khrystyne Jamerson.

Staff member Khrystyne Jamerson interned at Sea Turtle Inc. before being hired as a full-time educator.

“I got my Bachelor’s in Wildlife Biology from Texas State University. Upon graduating, I went on to gain experience with a variety of volunteer opportunities and internships. My first internship after college was here at Sea Turtle, Inc. two years ago.”

Khrystyne Jamerson

Khrystyne interned at Sea Turtle Inc. prior to being hired as a full-time educator. Credit: Khrystyne Jamerson.

“For last two years I have traveled around and continued to gain more sea turtle experience. After many seasonal opportunities and tons of moving around, I got lucky this spring when a position opened up here and they thought I would be a good fit as a staff member.”

Visit Sea Turtle Inc.’s website to learn more about their turtle conservation internships and volunteer opportunities.

You can read more about Khrystyne’s journey from intern to educator in A turtley awesome job: career insight from Sea Turtle Inc.’s Khrystyne Jamerson.


Society for the Protection of Turtles (SPOT)

Baby Turtle - Society for the Protection of Turtles (SPOT)

At a glance:

Species: Green, Loggerhead
Location: Cyprus
Focus: Patrols for nesting females, excavations, releases
Programme type: Sea turtle conservation volunteering
Dates: April – October
Duration: 4-8 weeks
Cost: A contribution of approximately £700 which covers all costs for a 6-8 week stay; food, accommodation and transport in Cyprus including airport transfer. See the SPOT website for details. No financial contribution is expected from Turkish Cypriot citizens who reside in North Cyprus.

The Marine Turtle Conservation Project (MTCP) has been conducted on the beaches of Northern Cyprus since 1992.

MTCP aims to minimise the threat of introduced canine (stray dog and fox) predators by screening all nests with protective cages. SPOT works to protect the nesting beaches themselves from human threats, by delivering information to and working with authorities to protect key sites.

They encourage local artisanal fishers to minimise the mortality rate of sea turtles that get caught in their fishing gear, by distributing materials to them on appropriate sea turtle handling and by developing and encouraging alternative methods. MTCP provides annual data on the status of sea turtles and their habitats in North Cyprus and University of Exeter produce a comprehensive range of research outputs on Mediterranean sea turtles.

SPOT also promotes education in schools and delivers classes each year on sea turtle conservation.

The project is a collaboration between the University of Exeter’s Marine Turtle Research group (MTRG) and the Society for the Protection of Turtles in Northern Cyprus (SPOT). It is led by Sophie Davey under the guidance of Dr Annette Broderick and Prof. Brendan Godley (MTRG) and Robin Snape and Kutlay Keço (SPOT).

During the last decade, the numbers of green and loggerhead turtles nesting on the beaches monitored by MTCP has been consistently increasing, which is an indication that our conservation efforts are paying off. As a result of our efforts, five Natura 2000 Specially Protected Areas have been designated and everyone on the island knows that sea turtles are under protection.

Cyprus map

You can visit www.cyprusturtles.org/home/watch-turtles to find out where and when to watch turtles.

MTCP is a very well established project that conducts excellent research and provides invaluable experience for under-graduate students.

Each year self-funded volunteers work on this project from April to October. There were 70 positions available in 2019.

Volunteers participate in a range of activities including:

  • Patrols for nesting females. Volunteers patrol the main study beaches at Alagadi throughout each night, every 10 minutes, from late May through mid-September. Volunteers observe females to record whether she is nesting, attempting to nest or retreating to the sea, followed by  From mid-July to end of September these nests are checked every night at regular intervals to ensure they have not been predated and to work with hatchlings, a sample of which are measured and weighed prior to release.
  • Excavations. Undertaken during the early morning or late afternoon, excavations provide data to help gauge the success of nests and often to unearth hatchlings that may not have survived otherwise.
  • Releases. During these public educational events, members of the public can release hatchling turtles under the supervision of the volunteers. These popular events are excellent at raising the profile of turtle conservation, particularly with children, who may be allowed to name, hold and release a hatchling.
  • Day work. Groups of up to four volunteers patrol set beaches every morning, starting at sunrise. They locate and screen nests to reduce predation rates and later excavate nests to analyse success and release any remaining hatchlings.

Students from the University of Exeter (Cornwall campus) have the option to undertake dissertations/honours projects in Cyprus under the supervision of Drs Broderick and Godley.

Volunteers walk the beach during a project event

Volunteers walk the beach during a project event. Credit: SPOT.

Volunteers are primarily undergraduate to PhD level students, however non-students are also encouraged to apply. You’ll just need to have a basic knowledge of marine turtle biology and the research findings of the project by the time you arrive in Cyprus (check out their list of publications).

All volunteers from overseas must be 18 years of age and local volunteers younger than 18 must provide parental consent. There is no upper age limit.

Volunteers must be fit and healthy and capable of walking up to 10km a day/night in temperatures of 30-40 °C. You’ll need to be comfortable sleeping in basic accommodation, get on well with other people and be prepared to cook and clean.

Visit www.cyprusturtles.org for more information about the project and getting involved.

Tengah Island Conservation

Person with gloves holding two sea turtle hatchlings Tengah Island Conservation

Credit: Tengah Island Conservation.

At a glance:

Species: Green, Hawksbill
Location: Tengah Island, Malaysia
Focus: Relocating and protecting nests from human poaching and natural predators, including night/morning patrols, collection of biometric data, nest excavations and hatchery maintenance.
Programme type: Sea turtle conservation volunteering
Dates: February – November
Duration: 9 weeks
From RM 5,000 for 9 weeks

Tengah Island Conservation’s Turtle Watch project aims to increase Green and Hawksbill turtle hatchlings’ chances of survival by relocating and protecting natural nests from human poaching and natural predators.

Their hatchery serves as home for all natural nests collected from P. Tengah and the nearby islands. Volunteers get involved in daily tasks including night and morning patrols, collection of biometric data, nests excavations and hatchery maintenance, alongside other research and conservation projects.


A map of the turtle patrol area. Credit: Tengah Island Conservation.

Conservation Assistants are expected to ‘dive in’ and get involved contribute to conservation ideas and developments, grow their understanding of conservation and educate visitors and locals about conservation.

Learn more about volunteering as a Conservation Assistant with Tengah Island Conservation’s Turtle Watch.


Turtle Foundation


Turtle Foundation beach camp in the north of Boavista. Credit: Turtle Foundation.

At a glance:

Species: Loggerhead
Location: Boavista Island, Cape Verde
Focus: Patrolling and protecting nesting beaches; community education and involvement
Programme type: Sea turtle conservation volunteering
Dates: June – October nesting season
Duration: Minimum 2 weeks (Short Term Volunteers); minimum 8 weeks (Long Term Volunteers)
Cost: Short Term Volunteers: Initial payment of € 280 for 2 weeks (€ 20 / day) + € 20 for each additional day. Long Term Volunteers: Initial payment of € 672 for 8 weeks (€ 12/day) + € 12 for each additional day. Both programmes have an additional administration fee of € 50. For an extra € 5 per night, they offer a place to sleep in a spacious tent for two people.

“Rampant poaching of nesting females threatens the world’s third largest nesting population of loggerhead turtles with extinction”

Sea turtles in Cape Verde are threatened by poaching at sea and on land, as well as coastal tourism development.

After over 1,100 female turtles were slaughtered in 2007 as they came ashore to nest on Boavista Island, the Turtle Foundation established a monitoring presence to reduce turtle mortality.


A Loggerhead female after laying eggs. Credit: Turtle Foundation.

Each year they reduce the number of sea turtles killed on Boavista through patrols and protection with support from the Cape Verde military and volunteers from around the world.

When not patrolling, the Turtle Foundation focusses on community education and engagement, giving turtle biology/conservation presentations, sponsoring art and educational programmes for school children, organising beach clean-ups, training tour agencies in turtle walks and more.

A ‘School-in-Nature’ project lesson at Turtle Foundation’s beachcamp in Boa Esperança. Credit: Turtle Foundation.

Want to join their efforts? You can learn about volunteering on Boavista here.

The Turtle Survival Alliance


At a glance:

Species: All, depending on current collection
Location: Cross, South Carolina
Focus: Animal husbandry, monitoring animal health, propagation, assisting with basic veterinary procedures, basic animal medical treatments, plus all aspects of day-to-day operations of the Turtle Survival Center.
Programme type: Sea turtle conservation internships
Dates: July – September
Duration: Minimum 2 months
Cost: $500 / month which covers on-site housing.

The Turtle Survival Alliance Foundation (TSA)’s mission is “Transforming passion for turtles into effective conservation action through a global network of living collections and recovery programs.” The non-profit has committed to zero turtle extinctions in the 21st century.

In 2013, TSA opened the Turtle Survival Center in Cross, South Carolina, now a world-class turtle conservation centre.

Turtle Survival Center interns – who must hold or be pursuing a degree in biology, ecology, conservation, zoo keeping, veterinary medicine or similar – gain hands-on experience with the day-t0-day operations of a non-profit conservation centre focussed on chelonians (turtles, terrapins and tortoises).

Interns help with day-to-day operations of the TSC, which can include:

  • Providing high standards of animal husbandry to a diverse group of critically endangered chelonians
  • Monitoring animal health
  • Keeping accurate records
  • Maintaining cleanliness of animal areas
  • Propagating chelonians, including egg care and incubation
  • Assisting with veterinary care procedures
  • Performing basic animal medical treatments
  • Maintaining facilities, grounds and buildings
  • Horticulture/gardening, particularly in animal areas
  • Assisting with enclosure design and construction
  • Interacting with other interns, volunteers, students, visiting biologists, and guests
  • Participating in outreach events as well as guest tours of the facility
  • Ensuring security of the facility

Interested? Learn more about TSA’s internship opportunities.

Turtle Trax


Turtle Trax offers both turtle conservation internships and volunteer opportunities on Costa Rica’s Nicoya Peninsula. Credit: Turtle Trax.

At a glance:

Species: Olive Ridley (primary); Green, Leatherback, Hawksbill
Location: Nicoya Peninsula, Costa Rica
Focus: Beach patrols, relocating nests, environmental education and awareness with the local community, generating job opportunities for locals and promoting sustainable tourism development.
Programme type: Sea turtle conservation volunteering and internships
Dates: Approx. June – December/January
Duration: Minimum 1 week (volunteers); approx. 3 months (Research Assistant interns); 7-8 months (Coordinator interns)
Cost: Varies; see the Turtle Trax website for more details. Coordinators receive meals, accommodation and a monthly stipend.

Turtle Trax helps Costa Rican non-profit CREMA (The Rescue Center for Endangered Marine Species) manage international and national volunteers who help protect marine turtles along the Pacific Coast of Costa Rica.

Turtle Trax runs four sea turtle conservation beach projects located on the Pacific side of Costa Rica’s southern Nicoyan Peninsula:

  • San Miguel, the project’s longest-running station
  • Costa de Oro
  • Bejuco, an isolated, remote and rustic fishing village
  • Corozalito

Volunteers can participate at Costa de Oro and San Miguel projects while internship positions are available at all four projects.


Turtle Trax Project locations. Turtle conservation internships are available at all four locations, while volunteers can participate at San Miguel and Costa de Oro. Credit: Turtle Trax.

“Over the last 16 years, volunteers have worked hard on our project beaches to protect thousands of sea turtle nests and release hundreds of thousands of hatchings into the Pacific Ocean”.

Funds generated through volunteer programs help run CREMA’s sea turtle conservation projects. They also help provide an income for local community members through opportunities such as guiding patrols and cooking meals. Volunteers’ work helps build a sense of awareness among local communities about the importance and benefits that come from protecting sea turtles – leaving a lasting impact long after volunteers move on.

Turtle Trax also offers internships each year for Coordinators and Research Assistants.

Research Assistants gain biology field experience and hands-on experience working with nesting sea turtles, participating in all aspects of sea turtle conservation, including: beach patrols, relocating nests into project hatcheries, environmental education and awareness with the local community, generating job opportunities for the locals and promoting sustainable tourism development.


The Corozalito project location. Credit: Turtle Trax.

Project Coordinators are responsible for the overall success of the project by directing and managing volunteers and research assistants. They must have previous experience working with sea turtles and extensive knowledge of patrolling, scientific data collection and hatchery work, plus fluent Spanish and English, and excellent leadership skills.

Coordinators receive meals and accommodation as well as a monthly stipend to cover living costs.

Learn more about becoming a Coordinator.

Funding turtle conservation internships and volunteering

I want to volunteer my time to help sea turtles and I have to pay?!

It’s true: the large majority of sea turtle conservation internships and volunteer programmes charge a weekly or monthly fee. This fee usually covers the cost of room and board on-site for international participants, plus other essentials like transport and training.

Some organisations also rely on volunteer contributions to continue their conservation work, which might even include using contributions from international participants to help provide a few free or subsidised opportunities to locals.

If you want to know how your money is used, check out the organisation’s website (some break down their fee structure on their volunteering/interning pages) or simply ask.

Are you ready for the adventure and challenge of turtle conservation internships or volunteering but can’t afford an unpaid role?

You’re not alone and you’re not without options. Here are a few tips to consider:

  • Weekly or monthly costs often go down the longer you stay. If you have the time to spare, the experience can become more affordable (especially if you compare the cost of living abroad to the cost of living at home).
  • More responsibility often means more benefits. If you already have skills and experience to offer, you can focus in on higher-responsibility internship or field staff positions. Many of these roles come with free room and board, and some even receive a stipend to cover living expenses and/or reimbursement for international flights.
  • Consider progression. If you don’t have the skills or experience to apply for a skilled role just yet, consider researching the potential to start out as a volunteer or intern and move into a role with more responsibility. You can ask the organisation directly and/or talk to previous interns or staff.
  • Get creative and fund your way. If you’re motivated and determined, there are funding opportunities available for conservation internships. And there are a lot of creative ways to raise money yourself. Check out these six tips for funding volunteer work.

Do you offer an amazing turtle conservation internship or volunteer opportunity? Or do you know a great organisation you’d recommend? Let us know at mail@conservation-careers.com!

Useful links and free stuff

A turtle hatchling

A close-up of a turtle hatchling. Credit: Tengah Island Conservation.

To help you navigate your options, please select which best describes you:

  • You want to work in conservation but you’re feeling lost, disillusioned or confused?!? Check out our Kick-starter training designed to help you understand the job market, to navigate your career options, and to get hired more quickly. It’s designed for students, graduates, job-seekers and career-switchers. We’re proud to say it also has 100% satisfaction and recommendation ratings. We know you’ll love it. Find out more about our Kick-Starter – Online Course andKick-Starter – UK Workshop.
  • You feel ready to be applying for jobs in conservation? Check out our membership packages for job seekers which provide access to the world’s biggest conservation job board – with over 6,000 conservation jobs shared each year – plus a range of other benefits. Check out our monthly memberships here.
  • You’re submitting applications, but failing to get many interviews? Check out our FREE eBook – How to Apply for a Conservation Job? This is a complete guide to producing successful CVs, Resumes and Application Forms by Conservation Careers. Download your copy for free here. We can also review your applications, and provide 1:1 advice on how to improve them (and we don’t cost the earth). Check out our application support here.
  • You’ve got an interview (well done!) and would like our help to prepare for it? We know what employers want, and have helped many people prepare for and deliver successful interviews. Check out our practice interviews here.
  • You’ve got a question and want to contact a human being! Send us an email to mail@conservation-careers.com and one of our team will be back in touch soon.