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Marine Turtle Conservation, Puerto Lopez

The project is committed to species conservation of sea turtles on the Ecuadorian coast. Volunteering in the field of animal, species and environmental protection, and environmental education is possible here.

Project Details

Sea turtles spend most of their life in the sea. However, to lay their eggs they leave the oceans. Their nests are very susceptible to damage caused primarily by humans. Coast cultivations, vehicles on the beach, fire, light and waste represent threats. This is why it is important to protect nesting sites and at the same time to collect data, to learn more about the marine life. So far there is little information on the number and frequency of sea turtle nests on the Ecuadorian coast. One research result shows, however, that the Machalilla National Park (Parque Nacional Machalilla) is arguably the most important part of the coast of Ecuador for oviposition for the endangered species of sea turtles (green turtles, leatherback turtles, hawksbill turtles and Olive Ridley sea turtles).

Throughout the breeding season (November to April), the project staff and volunteers patrol the beaches of the National Park, mark and count the nests and eggs, note their position and determine the hatch date. Based on the data, conclusions about the population dynamics and reproductive success can be made.
On the coasts of the Machalilla National Parks, sea turtles are also frequently observed in the water. To collect data, the Ministry of Environment allows to capture turtles during snorkeling sessions, to measure and to highlight them and then release them back into the sea. The information is used to analyze their habitats and their occurrence. The study of labeled sea turtles also provides information on growth and development and to determine whether the sea turtles live on the coast or are just passing through.
Part of the project is to raise awareness about marine turtle conservation among the inhabitants of the coastal areas. For this, weekly get-togethers for children are organized, where they learn about topics like Marine animals, environmental protection, waste and the consequences of pollution in a fun manner. Tours and activities also take place, where the sea turtles are observed between the anchored fishing boats near the beach or the beach is cleaned. 
The 10-member organization in Quito was founded in 2004 and manages projects for marine turtle conservation in the coastal town of Puerto Lopez, where the Machalilla National Parks is located, and in Mompiche on the northern coast of Ecuador. Volunteers mainly work in the projects in Puerto Lopez but also learn about the projects in Mompiche.
Possible activities for volunteers at a glance:
  • Beach patrols during the day and/or night
  • Surveying and marking of the sea turtles that come ashore
  • Counting the eggs, marking the nests and calculation of hatch date
  • Documentation and evaluation of data
  • Snorkeling courses for the marking and measuring of sea turtles for data recovery
  • Environmental education for children (support the organization in the planning and implementation of excursions, activities and creative learning tasks on the subject of environment, nature and animal welfare)
  • Support for the data collection on other projects; e.g. about Shark meat sale at the local fish market in Puerto Lopez
Info Box
Location: Puerto Lopez/Machalilla National Park and Mompiche, Ecuador
Availability: All year, Start date flexible
Minimum Duration: 1 Week
Maximum Duration: 6 Months
Language Requirements: Basic Spanish
Bed in volunteer house
Supervision Possible: No
Qualification Of Supervisor: -
Minimum Qualification Of Intern: -
Further Contribution To Project: -
Volunteering Possible: Yes
Required Qualification For Volunteer: None
Further Contribution To Project: None
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