PROGRAMME STRUCTURE

You will never experience another expedition like this. You’ll receive hands on field exposure from the very first day, while interacting with the heaviest reptile on the planet that can grow in excess of 2’000lb.

Teams will assist local patrols and data collectors nightly along the 8.8km stretch of beach that the leatherback turtles nest on. Patrolling efforts are highly dependent on conditions that affect the time turtles arrive onto the beach, as such teams may be required to stay out on the beach until 3:00 am. Teams will however be able to take it slowly in the first couple days of the expedition as they adjust to the fast paced night time schedule.

During beach patrols, you’ll work in small groups to visit each nesting leatherback in your assigned survey area. You’ll measure the distance across the turtle’s shell at its widest point and record any unusual markings or injuries. If the turtle has not already been tagged, you’ll help an experienced field staffer apply tags to its flippers. You’ll also note nest positions and environmental conditions, such as weather, tide, and the number of people watching the turtles. You’ll excavate any old nests to estimate how many hatchlings they held.

Depending on when you join us in the field, your team will work more on some activities than others. Earlier teams do more beach patrols, and later in the season, as more hatchlings emerge, they do more nest excavation and hatchling surveys. All teams will likely try their hand at all activities, depending on research needs.

LOCATION (FIELD AREA)

Trinidad, about eight miles off the coast of Venezuela, is southernmost in the chain of islands that encloses the Caribbean Sea. The rural village of Matura, your destination for this volunteer programme and subsequent home of this expedition, is surrounded by thick Mora-tree forest that speaks to the meaning of its name (Matura means ‘dense forest’). This forest draws many visitors with its beautiful Waterfalls, natural pools and nature trails along with its diverse tropical wildlife.  However, the Leatherback Turtle during the nesting season that spans from March 1st to August 31st is by far the area’s most popular attraction.  Trinidad boasts the second largest nesting population for Leatherback turtles and is one of the most viable nesting colonies in the world.

Nature Seekers has strong roots in the Matura community and has been in Marine Turtle Conservation for over 25 years. As such, you will have the opportunity to meet and work with local community members, visit the schools, collaborate with other community stakeholders and witness local craft making.

You’ll also glimpse some of Trinidad’s rich cultural history. Its many musical traditions, notably the steel pan, began in Trinidad and form a very important part of the nation’s identity. So come be a part and ‘Experience Conservation’.

AGES (ADULTS/TEENS)

  • Adult:        18 and above
  • Teen:         15 to 17 years

VOLUNTEER QUALIFICATIONS

Prospective Nature Seekers volunteers:

  • Must be able to complete 12 volunteer days within a thirty (30) day period
  • Must be at least 15 years of age. Persons under the age of 18 years MUST have a written and signed form of consent from legal parent or guardian.
  • Persons under the age of 18 must be accompanied by a parent or guardian
  • Passion for nature and learning
  • Ability and willingness to take initiative, solve problems and multi-task effectively and with a good attitude
  • Willingness to work both independently and cooperatively
  • Willingness to work long hours, split shifts and untraditional work weeks
  • Willingness to work outdoors under adverse conditions for up to 8 hours (humidity, rain, and heat)
  • To commit to a minimum four-hour period per day (8pm to 12am) in voluntary work which must amount to twelve (12) sessions within a (30) day period. Note: The first four (4) sessions will be consecutive, unless indicated otherwise.
  • Caution fee TT$500 (returned on successful completion of probation period)

EXPEDITION PERIOD

Duration: 12 Days

EXPEDITION DATES

2018 Starting Dates

  • Team 1: 18th March
  • Team 2: 01st April
  • Team 3: 15th April
  • Team 4: 29th April
  • Team 5: 13th May
  • Team 6: 27th May
  • Team 7: 10th June
  • Team 8: 24th June
  • Team 9: 08th July
  • Team 10: 22nd July

MENTORS AND ADVISORS

  • Dr. Scott A. Eckert
  • Dr. Mike James
  • Susan Lakhan Baptiste
  • Kyle Mitchell
  • Esther Vidale
  • Nevon Williams

COST

TT$500