Sea Turtle Conservation & Environmental Education

by Corcovado Foundation

A new era begins at the sea turtle program!

Just two months remain until the Corcovado Foundation sea turtle conservation program starts up for the 2015-16 season, and there is still much fundraising to be done. While we have been successful in obtaining one small grant, we were unable to win another that would have provided all of the funding we needed to run the program this year. Our ability to protect the sea turtles nesting on the beaches of Drake Bay and Río Oro currently hangs in the balance, and so we turn to private donors now more than ever to help us to close this funding gap.

Since 2006, the program has saved 90% of the 150 turtle nests laid in Drake Bay each year, releasing over 70,000 babies into the ocean! Our vibrant community-based project involves over 30 locals who help to protect the turtles from poachers, and our volunteers stay in a homestay house network in the village which has already raised over $60,000 for local families. The local turtle association which we helped to establish is also preparing to run the project by themselves, and they may even be ready by the end of the year! It has been a super successful initiative which has benefitted not only just the sea turtles but the local residents too, coupling the preservation of their sea turtles firmly to their economic prosperity.

At our brand new site at Río Oro beach there is a much smaller community, but there are at least 10 times more turtles coming to nest, so we’ve really got our work cut out this year! The beach is visited by Olive Ridley, Green, Hawksbill and even Leatherback sea turtles, but also a lot of poachers who travel in from other parts of the country to take the turtle eggs and sell them on the black market. We will help to protect the nests from these poachers by relocating the eggs to a hatchery, and we will support the Ministry of Environment (MINAE) in their effort to establish a National Wildlife Refuge at the site. In return, officers from MINAE will come to patrol with our biologists and volunteers, which we hope will act as an effective deterrent to the poachers.

We will also work with local organizations, schools and businesses to raise awareness of the plight of their sea turtles, and to promote the engagement of the local community with the project as much as possible. Our environmental education program will implement classes and activities in the local schools, and we will form an out-of-school youth group so that the kids can get involved in some conservation activities, as well as lots of fun and games of course. We will train local adults with the turtle conservation methodology, and we will offer an hourly salary to those who complete their training and wish to patrol the beaches at night. We will also promote community-based tours in the area to our volunteers, so that locals can generate some income through the kind of responsible tourism that we hope will one day form a sustainable backbone for the local economy.

We would like to achieve all of this over the next 12 months, but we simply won’t be able to do everything – and sacrifices will have to be made – unless we are able to raise more donations. In order to achieve our goals in full, we are looking to raise an additional $5,000 USD before the end of the year.  Make a donation on May 13th and Globalgiving will match your donation.

Please, if you care about protecting the environment for these endangered creatures, and if you recognize the value of creating sustainable economic opportunities for poor local residents through conservation, then consider making a donation to our program today.

Our proven track record in Drake Bay should give you confidence that we will be able to replicate the model at our new site of Río Oro, and that another community in Costa Rica will be provided with all of the tools they require to protect their natural resources while lifting themselves out of poverty.

Thank you!


Volunteers learning how to build sea turtle nests
Volunteers learning how to build sea turtle nests

As the sea turtle conservation program celebrates its tenth birthday, the 2015 season promises to be the most ambitious that the program has ever attempted. In addition to providing continued support to help the community of Drake Bay to protect their sea turtles, the program will set up a new field station at the remote Río Oro beach – the most important sea turtle nesting beach in the Osa Peninsula. The program is also applying to monitor the sea turtles nesting on Sirena beach inside the Corcovado National Park, and so one nesting beach could become three during 2015!


This is hugely exciting progress and successful efforts have been made to find funding for these projects; but as ever there are big gaps, and the program looks to private donations to cover those costs that grant providers just don’t like to fund.


We need money in order to provide a stipend to the biologists who selflessly provide their time and efforts as Coordinators. These guys go beyond the call of duty on a daily basis to ensure that the turtles are protected and the program’s objectives are delivered, and we simply want to cover their expenses during their stay. They deserve so much more.


There is currently no funding at all for the Drake Bay project in 2015, and so we seek donations in order to offer a small salary to those locals who dedicate their time to patrol the beaches, guard the hatchery at night, and look after the international volunteers.


We also need to find money for food and delivery costs, and for the transportation of materials and waste (and volunteers) to and from the remote Río Oro field station, since this will add up to be a huge expense over nine months.


Private donors are uniquely placed to support our efforts in this way, so please help us to start the campaign with everything we need to make it a success. Join the effort alongside our volunteers and the local community to bring an end to poaching in the Osa!


Thank you!



Drake Beach

Since 2006, the program has protected 90% of sea turtle nests in Drake Bay. Through the establishment of a dedicated community association, ACOTPRO, and the implementation of environmental education in local schools, the program has also succeeded in changing the attitudes of local people toward their natural resources. With support from the program, ACOTPRO has now developed its own homestay network, volunteer program and several community-based tours, and the association is prepared to assume responsibility for the conservation effort in Drake Bay. It is anticipated that the 2015 nesting season will be the last directly supported by the program.


Río Oro Beach

Having bourn witness to these achievements in Drake Bay, the Ministry for the Environment (MINAET) and the Corcovado Sea Turtle Conservation Committee (COTORCO) have invited the program to protect sea turtles nesting in the Río Oro National Wildlife Refuge, and emulate the successes of the program in Drake Bay with the community of Río Oro/Carate. This will be the first time ever that the sea turtles will have been routinely protected at this extremely vulnerable and globally important Olive Ridley Lepidochelys olivacea) and Green turtle (Chelonia mydas) nesting site.


Sirena Beach

This small stretch of sand located at the heart of the Corcovado National Park is a nesting habitat for Olive Ridley, Green and Hawksbill sea turtles, and is a wild ecosystem situated far away from any towns or villages. How many turtles nest here, how many nests do they lay, and what is the impact of natural predators on the population? Nobody knows! And so MINAET have offered the opportunity to conservation organizations to compete for the honor of answering these questions. The program aims to win this competition in 2015 and looks forward to creating new knowledge about this pristine wilderness.

Rio Oro beach in the Osa Peninsula
Rio Oro beach in the Osa Peninsula

As the 2014 nesting season draws to a close, we reflect back upon a record-breaking year in Drake Bay. For the first time ever the community turtle association, ACOTPRO, has successfully co-managed the turtle season, coordinating their night patrols, constructing their own hatchery and hosting their own sea turtle festival. The homestay network has earned over $27,000 in five months (around $3,500 per household) and a record-breaking 96 volunteers have arrived.


Despite this success, without the income from private donations the turtle program could not have taken place in 2014. For this reason we want to say a huge thank you to everyone who donated this year – you made the difference between the eggs being saved or being poached!


Since July, over 150 turtles have crawled onto Drake beach, leaving over 100 nests, 95% of which have been safely relocated to the hatchery. So far 3,000 tiny hatchlings have been released into the sea, and we are expecting to release another 3,000 before the end of the year.


Several Green turtles have also nested this year, continuing the trend of a year-on-year increase for this species since 2011. This is really positive news because the Green turtle, which is much more endangered than the Olive Ridley, was thought to have been lost forever from Drake Bay for many years. As the Corcovado Foundation hands over responsibility for the conservation to ACOTPRO, the community can claim stewardship of a turtle nesting beach with a bright future ahead of it.


Meanwhile, on the other side of the Osa Peninsula, the most important Green turtle nesting site on the Pacific coast of Costa Rica, Río Oro beach, remains without any protection at all. The Corcovado Foundation has now won a grant to help establish a brand new program at this unique location, and the protection will start from July 2015.


However, due to the limits of the funding provided there is a shortfall for the construction of the base camp. The program aims to raise $10,000 before construction begins in May 2015, starting today!


Please help us to start the campaign with a bang and make a donation today. Join the effort alongside our volunteers and the local community to bring an end to poaching in the Osa, and protect the most important Green turtle beach on Costa Rica’s Pacific coast!


Thank you, and watch this space for more info about the new program.

Volunteers working with the community in Drake Bay
Volunteers working with the community in Drake Bay
Turtle tracks and a nest on Rio Oro beach
Turtle tracks and a nest on Rio Oro beach


Work at the beach
Work at the beach

The Sea Turtle Conservation Program in Drake Bay is more popular than ever this year. This week we celebrated our 70th volunteer in just two months - the same number of volunteers that we had in the whole of last season! The homestay houses have already earned more than in 2013 for housing volunteers, and double what they earned in 2012. With more than three months left to go, this year is shaping up to be record-breaking.

However, volunteer fees only cover the cost of accommodation and do not cover the cost of running the program, which is normally covered by a grant of USD $20,000 or more. So far no grant has been found for the 2014 season, and so finances are on a knife edge. We are relying upon private donations more than ever to be able to continue, and everyone involved is having to donate much more of their time this year, with locals only able to earn half of the salary that was available in previous seasons. There is no materials budget and many pieces of equipment are in desperate need of replacement. There is also no funding available for the Sea Turtle Festival, an awareness raising event than attracts over 200 locals and ecotourists annually. The program needs to raise at least $2,000 so that this historic event can take place in 2014. Can you help? Every cent counts, and no donation is too small!

Volunteers and locals have been working tirelessly patrolling the beaches in Drake Bay in search for nesting sea turtles. So far this season, over 40 turtles have been found on Drake Beach, and 26 nests are already incubating in the hatchery, amounting to over 2000 eggs safely protected from poachers and predators. Volunteers have also been working hard in the daytime to help to improve community facilities and assist the locals in learning English.

We would like to extend huge congratulations to the members of the local association ACOTPRO, who have taken on much more responsibility this year. From working voluntarily overnight in the hatchery, to leading patrols and coordinating the homestay accommodation; ACOTPRO have really stepped up. They have also been working on volunteer recruitment and a brand new website for their community-led project! The site will be online soon and will be found at:

If you have an interest in volunteering in Drake Bay, contact us today. Some nests are almost ready to hatch, so now is the time to sign up and see our first baby turtles of the season! Visit for more details.

Many thanks for your continued support in helping to protect the sea turtles of Drake Bay!

Turtle Volunteers working at the recycling center
Turtle Volunteers working at the recycling center

Greetings from the Corcovado Foundation! This year marks a very special moment in our history, as the community association that we have worked with for the last four years, ACOTPRO, takes the driving seat and assumes more control of coordinating the turtle project. Commensurate with the long-term goal of the program, the 2014 nesting season will see the alliance between the Foundation and ACOTPRO mature further, with the local community enthusiastically taking on much greater responsibility while still counting on solid support from a team of biologists provided by the Foundation.

In an exciting new set up, two coordinators from ACOTPRO will team up with two international biologists to ensure that local and volunteer-based activities run harmoniously. ACOTPRO will coordinate their homestay network, night patrols, community work and the construction of the hatchery, and international staff will recruit and coordinate volunteers, provide workshops and training, and assist with the management of the scientific investigation.

The bad news for 2014 is that no major grants were secured for the season, meaning that finances are extremely tight. The program currently only has one half of the funds required to pay for night patrol shifts to search for nesting turtles, meaning that the number of patrols will have to be drastically cut if additional funding is not found, and many turtles and nests may be left vulnerable to poaching. Moreover there is currently no money available to host the Sea Turtle Festival in Drake Bay, a popular annual event that brings local adults, children, businesses and tourists together to celebrate sea turtles and raise awareness about their plight.

 We are desperately appealing to donors to help us make up the shortfall in the budget and allow these important activities to take place. Unless an additional $8,000 can be found, the ability of the program to provide effective protection to the sea turtles of Drake Bay will be severely limited.

During 2013, very few sea turtles came to nest, and so we are expecting especially high numbers this year. We cannot afford to fail the sea turtles at this time, while the population remains in such perilous danger of extinction in the region.

For their part, ACOTPRO has been working tirelessly throughout the year to garner support for their community-led initiative, and have secured assistance from the Ministry of Environment and the Osa municipality. As the main fruit of their efforts, work is about to begin on the construction of a dedicated field station on Drake beach, which will include the turtle hatchery and a secure post from which field work can be coordinated. This will help to transform the experience of volunteers and local staff by improving logistics and providing essential facilities, such as water and cooking equipment, right on the beach.

The Corcovado Foundation will push on with its effort to raise awareness of the program and provide as much training, salaries, volunteers and logistical support as possible to the community of Drake Bay, but as a non-profit organization we cannot do it without the help of donors, such as yourself, who wish to do something to help to protect nature. What seems like a small amount of money back home can go a long way here, and the locals are matching every generous donation with their own selfless voluntary efforts in the field. So please, do whatever you can to help us protect this keystone endangered species, and let’s share the vision of a world in which future generations will also be able to enjoy sea turtles.

The turtles and the community in Drake Bay thank you for your wonderful generosity!


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Organization Information

Corcovado Foundation

Location: Moravia,, San Jose - Costa Rica
Website: http:/​/​
Project Leader:
Alejandra Monge
Moravia,, San Jose Costa Rica

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