Turtle Conservation Volunteer in Sri Lanka
Conduct turtle night watch, data collection, help out in the turtle hatchery, egg collection and many more.
Turtle Conservation Volunteer in Sri Lanka
Turtle volunteer conservation project in Sri Lanka. Have you ever wanted to help a fledgling turtle project fulfill the dreams of its local owner? Handun is a wonderful and passionate Sri Lankan whose been given the rains of his father’s sea turtle project. His father once ate turtle eggs and turtles but in 1990 he started a hatchery to help protect them because he could see the fast decline in their numbers. In 2004 the centre was flattened by the Tsunami and Handun has since helped to restore the centre.
The centre is currently home to over 20 injured or growing adult turtles and a turtle hatchery where eggs are incubated and hatchlings are released back to their natural home.
Handun is certainly passionate but needs help to improve the standards of the centre. It is by far from perfect but this is why the centre needs you.
Ecoteer and our project partner with the help of the volunteers are helping to improve the centre and help Handun to achieve his aims and help protect the sea turtles of Kosgoda.
The beach just 100m from the centre is a nesting ground for four species of sea turtles which nest ALL year around but the main season is from November to April.
By day you will help clean the centre (raking and water in the tanks), care for the adult turtles, provide new and novel ways to feed the turtles (enriching their life’s), act as guides for visiting tourists and run two weekly school clubs for the local school children breeding the next generation of Sri Lankan turtle conservationists.
From 8pm til midnight/2am you will release any recently hatched turtle hatchlings and help the locals employed to collect turtle eggs from the 1.5km of beach which Handun helps protect. These eggs will then be deposited into the hatchery and in two months the hatchlings will be released to the sea.
This project is not perfect in terms of adult sea turtle husbandry and some of the tanks containing adults are small. Handun dreams of larger tanks but money and the amount of physical work needed to replace the water on a daily basis are a few things that restrict the practical sizes of the tanks at present. Ecoteer and our project partner are working with Handun to provide expertise and contributions to help improve the conditions for the turtles and in the long term we hope to help him increase the size of the tanks and a salt water filtration system. The majority of the turtles that are kept are severally injured and if released to the wild they would most probably die. This is why the enrichment of the turtle tanks is vital to help improve the life’s of these turtles whilst they are at the centre. Handun is also headstarting a few sea turtles to be released when they are 3 years old. Headstarting is a practice adopted by many turtle projects in Sri Lanka and is the rearing of turtle hatchlings until 3 years old to combat the high death rate of hatchlings. Many turtle researchers argue about headstarting with some supporting and some against. The main thing to remember is that to help head starting to be successful the natural life style of turtles must be mimicked as much as practically possible.
Please go to this project with your eyes wide open and a willingness to play your part in improving the centre and achieving Handun’s dream to save the Turtles of Kosgoda.
1 week £380
2 weeks £495
Extra weeks £115 per week
Compulsory for all volunteers
Ecoteer Responsible Travel lifetime membership: GBP 55
Return airport transfer from Colombo International Airport , fan single sexed twin accommodation, three meals per day from Monday – Friday, all as per itinerary.
Flights, insurance, visa, Ecoteer Responsible Travel membership
Download the brochure here
Please allow a minimum of 3 weeks for us to process your application and payment.
Download the application form here
To make a reservation, please complete the application form and email to email@example.com. We will then email you back confirming your reservation and how to make the deposit payment. If the deposit is not received within 2 weeks from the date your reservation is placed, your reservation will be cancelled automatically. Full payment is required no later than 1 month before departure. You may pay online by credit card or a direct transfer to our account. Once a deposit has been paid we will email you our Know Before You Go guide, which will give you useful information to help you prepare to volunteer.
a. Cancellation of reservation must be made in writing to avoid any misunderstanding. If the company receives notice to cancel 30 days or more before the date of departure, a minimum administrative fee of RM100.00 or 10% of the tour deposit (whichever is lower) per person will be levied.
b. If notice of the cancellation is received 29 days or less before the date of departure the following charges will apply:
c. 15 – 29 working days before the date of departure = 50% of deposit
8 – 14 working days before the date of departure = 20% of FULL COST
3 – 7 working days before the date of departure = 40% of FULL COST
2 working days or less before the date of departure = 100% of FULL COST
Maintenance of turtle hatchery & care for turtle daily needs – cleaning turtle tanks, feeding the turtles and preparing their food
Creating enrichment programmes for the turtles – ensure their natural instinct stays for them to survive in the wild when they are released
Turtle egg collection, turtle hatchling release, night beach patrol
Twice a week
Educate the visitors, tourist who visits the sanctuary and school children about turtle conservation while visiting the local schools.
Daily project activities
06.30 am Waking up near the beach and the turtles! What better than a nice cup of tea to start the day?
06.45 am The hatchery work begins. You will be kept busy cleaning the area where the eggs are buried & checking the dates of new arrivals. Your help is needed cleaning the tanks, feeding the turtles, especially the blind turtles and checking on the baby turtles (sick ones and unfortunately sometimes deaths).
Thankfully many babies do survive their first vital hours/days and need you to check on them before being released that night. Always keep an eye on the visitors ensuring they treat the turtles right and stick to the rules.
08.30 am Finally breakfast for you! Enjoy fruits, bread & curry or butter & jam (if requested by the volunteer), tea or coffee.
09.30 am Continue with the activities from earlier in the day with a lovely tea break between 10.30 and 11.00.
01.30 pm Lunch break with rice, vegetable(s) and dhal curry, fish, chicken or egg.
02.30 pm Monday, Wednesday and Friday you can help with the renovation of the hatchery by painting and decorating the walls and do other small jobs where and when required.
Tuesday and Thursday you go hunting for turtle food on the beach and in the sea. You will learn how to make your own fishing gear and catch fish and how to catch small crabs to feed the turtles.
03.45 pm Take a welcome tea break.
04.00 pm Monday and Friday we’ll go and clean our part of the beach making it more attractive for the turtles and safer for all marine animals.
Tuesday and Thursday you can help teaching the local children. Teach English, math, play games and have fun whilst helping the local children in their development.
Wednesday you have time to relax and enjoy the beach and sea.
06.00 pm Dinner and relax.
09.00 pm Get out and look for nesting turtles during the nightly beach patrol. This is optional and can be done every night if you like. The beach patrol will always be accompanied by staff members.
The turtle volunteer project runs from Monday to Friday leaving the weekends for you to explore the country
* Changing of sea water will be done once a week which will be a whole days work
** There are times when less turtles come to the beach to lay their eggs. Still during these times there is a lot to do at the project including taking care of the turtles as per activities table
*** Times and activities may vary from day to day. The activities time table is a mere guidance and not set in stone.
Work chart Monday to Friday;
-Secure the areas where the eggs are buried to ensure that eggs are safe from predators.
-Buy eggs from poachers including fisherman and bury these eggs secured area and mark the date the eggs were buried & check the dates and observe signs for any emerging new hatchlings in the area where the eggs are buried to ensure that the new hatch-lings are protected from predators such as birds, dogs, mongoose and snakes before the hatch-lings emerge.
-Clean tanks – this is a whole days work done once a week to ensure clean sea water tanks for the turtles at all times.
-Feed the Turtles including the blind turtles individually and ensure they have enough food to eat and purchase any necessary fish from local fisherman.
-Check on the baby turtles and make a note of any sick and injured ones also check on the baby turtles for blindness before they are released.
-Raise turtle conservation awareness with local tourist and local public and make sure the public do not put hands in the tanks in order to prevent contamination and distress to the turtles.
-Night Patrol is carried out to spot any turtles laying eggs and if any eggs are laid in an unsafe area, to move these eggs to safe ground. If any turtles are spotted laying eggs volunteers are requested not to disturb them as they approach the nesting ground. Once the turtles start laying eggs volunteers have the opportunity to watch them, also measure the turtles and to carry out research work for conservation purposes.
-Beach cleaning will be done by volunteers to ensure all debris specially plastic waste is removed and to keep a clean beach for the turtles to lay eggs.
Shared accommodation with the other volunteers
The accommodation can be onsite or a nearby homestay depending on the number of volunteers. You may be sharing with up to 3 people maximum at any time. A western style toilet is available at all accommodation (homestay and at the project site).
Wifi is available at the house
Every Sunday all year round. Volunteers will be picked up from the airport on the Sunday from the Colombo airport.
1. What are the requirements to join this volunteering project?
Volunteers will need to be able to speak English to be able to communicate with the facilitator. Minimum age requirement is 18 years old. Volunteers should also have a positive attitude and willing to participate in all task given to them.
2. How many hours do volunteer work per day?
5 to 7 hours a day. However volunteers are able to request for breaks in between. The task are to be carried out from Monday to Friday with off days on the weekends.
3. Do I need to apply for visa to join?
If you are coming to Sri Lanka for 30 days and less then you will need to apply for your visa in advance of arrival. This can all be done on line and will cost $20 per person. You can pay by credit card and track the progress of your application which should take 24hours. You’ll then receive approval which we recommend printing and taking a copy with you to show at passport control. You can also apply via your local embassy.
The application website: http://www.eta.gov.lk/slvisa/visainfo/center.jsp?locale=en_US
You can obtain a visa upon arrival in Sri Lanka, you will need to head to the Electronic Travel Authorization counter at the airport, fill in the forms and pay a fee of $25.
4. Is this program suitable for families with children?
Yes this Sri Lanka sea turtle conservation program is suitable for families with children age 10 years and above.
I definitely recommend this experience. I absolutely recommend spending at least 2 weeks volunteering. I was really amazed to see the birth of baby hawkbill turtles in my first hour of work! It was an incredible view. And of course, releasing the turtles in the evening, for a biologist like me, was also a “once in a life time” experience. I did not know at that time that we were going to have baby turtles every day. Personally, it was also very rewarding to have the opportunity to exchange opinions and views not only with other volunteers but especially with the visitors of the turtle project (Singhalese and foreigners). I think that the biggest strength of this project is its educational contribution towards a more environmental friendly and environmental aware society, within and outside Sri Lanka. Finally, even when I was involved in the turtle project I had the possibility of teaching English to local children which was really gratifying and loads of fun!
Ruth, September 2010
It was a wonderful experience to be in Sri Lanka and also to do the turtle project. Dudley – the owner – is doing something wonderful and I am pleased, that I was able to help out for a few days. These animals are wonderful creatures and I hope many of them will be saved. It was so much fun to be around them and to show and explain everything to the tourists. When I was in Ahangama, I saw a turtle nesting on New Years Eve. That was wonderful too. Since there was also the community project at the accomandation were I stayed with the turtles, I was able to teach English to singalese children for one afternoon. That was also a great and lovely experience. The people in Sri Lanka are very ambitious, nice and smart.
Antje, Feb 2012
My 8 weeks in Sri Lanka working with the turtles was memorable, an experience I will never forget. The friends I made are missed so much, and its only 24hrs since I last saw them!! Turtles are quite awe inspiring reptiles – not cold at all! I will certainly be back again, same project, in 2012!! I highly recommend the whole experience – age has NO limit for adventure. Go for it!!
Jane, Jan 2012
Working with the hatchery as a volunteer is such a nice and special experience to me. Everything went so well from the moment I got picked up from Colombo. My room was clean and has everything I need to make me feel comfortable. Although they don’t have hot shower in the bathroom, you don’t really need it there because of the temperature. But they did provide me a barrel of hot water when I required it one time, and it was so kind of them to do that for me. The condition of the hatchery is not perfect so far, and the way they work is still quite original. But they are trying hard to protect the turtles from pollution and danger. There are still space for improvement, for example, having a cart made by wood with big wheels, would help carrying the sand bags from the beach to the hatchery and also moving sand inside the hatchery, so people don’t need to carry the weight by hand. The food from my home stay was good, and they tried to change menu everyday, and make sure I like the taste. The local food is quite tasty but a little bit too hot for me sometimes. It only took me couple of days to get used to it though. More vegetable salad or soup would be perfect but they are not really local food, so it’s not necessary. Because I am the only volunteer at the time, I was not allowed to go to the beach on my own. There’s a reason for that and I understand it. To have privacy on the beach is almost impossible, there will always be someone trying to talk or interact. So Handun always warn me not to talk to strangers on the beach. It’s quite annoying when you can’t really relax yourself on that nice beach but there’s nothing they can do about it to be honest. Both the boss of the hatchery and the project director offered to showing me around on weekend because i was on my own. They were really considerate and I appreciated a lot! Overall I give this project a big thumb. I really enjoyed spending time doing meaningful things when I was traveling. It’s the best way to learn the culture of a country as well! I will definitely recommend to others! Thanks to all the people that were taking care of me and wish all the best for the turtle conservation project!
Tingting, Feb 2013
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