Volunteer : • MELANIE •
Nationality : Germany Period : August 2018
Hi! 🙂 My name is Melanie, I’m from Yorkshire in England and I’m a teacher in a Primary School currently teaching 6 year olds. As science coordinator in my school, I have being showing all of the children about the wider world and how it is our job to protect it. Alongside my own passion for wanting to connect with the ocean, this is partially the reason for volunteering for Equipo Tora Carey; to show our children that the world is a bigger place than just their tiny village, and hopefully to inspire them to consider careers in conservation or even more simply how to interact positively with our oceans in their own futures. I have only recently returned from my two weeks of volunteering in El Jobo, Costa Rica and I look back with fondness and amazement about my time there.
El Jobo is a small, coastal fishing village in the Guanacaste region of Costa Rica. The residents are mostly linked to one large family and everyone is kind and welcoming. Until recently, the need to speak English has not been felt there, so the vast majority of people only speak Spanish (make sure your conversational Espanol is strong!). I lived with a home-stay family and despite the language barrier, I felt welcome and well looked after. The food was fantastic; three wholesome meals per day cooked fresh by my host ‘mum’, always featuring rice and beans. Mi favorito es platano, abogado, arroz y frijoles! The people there do not have a lot but they are willing to share what they do have with you. They also look after what they have; the family home I stayed in was kept exceptionally clean and tidy. The community is extremely safe and I was given a key to the front door, had my own bedroom (with double bed, fan and mosquito net) and shared a volunteer bathroom.
A regular day could look as follows:
8.30am monitoring rays.
1pm lunch then free time.
4-6.30pm counting Loras parrots for data collection.
8pm-12am (or 12am-4am) patrolling the beaches for turtle activity.
It’s so difficult to pick a favourite part!
I had a jam packed schedule due to my short stay of only two weeks so I was fortunate to be involved with many activities. I felt like I was making the most difference when collecting data for the rays, so this was probably my best part if I had to choose. We had to catch, measure, tag and sample the rays before releasing them and it was amazing to learn how to work safely with these potentially hazardous animals. Capturing rays is definitely a skill I need more practice with; it was difficult enough to spot them in the first place buried in the sand, then being able to free dive deep enough AND respond quickly enough when the rays moved! They are beautiful creatures when they glide through the water but up-close even more so. I’ve never seen butterfly rays or guitarfish before – wow, just wow!
Another stand-out moment for me, was finding a freshly laid nest during a midnight beach patrol! Only a few hours before, a Loras turtle had chosen that beach for her nest, laying 93 eggs! It was so exciting to spot the tracks on the sand and an absolute privilege to give this species a helping hand by moving the eggs to a safer place. I will never forget my involvement during data collection of turtles either! A special part of my stay timed perfectly with a morning across at Matapalito, where we caught turtles all morning before collecting vital statistics for monitoring purposes. I had never quite appreciated their magnificence or size until being beside one and measuring her on the boat! Oh, AND… being part of a turtle release was just incredible! I was lucky that during my time in El Jobo, there was a hatching. We took 118 baby turtles to a local beach in total darkness to release them on their way towards their life in our precious oceans.
Another important role of the volunteers, was the daily Loras parrot count. There is a spot overlooking the ocean to sit and count the birds as they fly home to the island where they nest and sleep. This vital data collection will allow future researchers to monitor the change in population of this vulnerable species over time.
In my free time, my favourite thing to do was to walk to Manzanillo beach and get into the water! I loved every moment of my time in the ocean for sure and would go snorkelling at any given chance! The marine life is rich so I’d be swimming with rays, turtles and many fish species every day. Just be prepared to wear long sleeves to avoid stings from the ‘hilos de oro’ (jellyfish strings).
Over all, this is a well-ran, sustainable project in a beautiful part of the world. I was involved / hands-on with such amazing activities that have fed my soul and will inspire the next generation at my school. Equipo Tora Carey, are doing marvellous things towards the marine conservation effort there, and it was a privilege to have played a small part in that. It was exciting to be immersed into the local community in El Jobo and I would advise that your conversational Spanish should be very good to keep up with this close-knit, friendly, welcoming community who love to talk! Life in Costa Rica is so different from my life in England so I’ve learned a great deal from that. The activities were varied, well planned and I just loved how involved and hands-on I was able to get. I really feel like I’ve helped towards ETC making a difference, thank you 🙂
Volunteer : • LANE •
Nationality : USA Period : August 2018
This is my third time visiting El Jobo and volunteering with ETC. Aside from spending time with my family here, my favorite part about being here is working with sting rays. The team snorkels for rays every Tuesday, Thursday, and Friday mornings on the local beaches of El Jobo. Using hand nets, we catch rays such as the Urobatis halleri, Urotrygon chilensis, butterfly rays (Gymnura micrura), electric rays (Narcine entemedor), and a variety of guitar rays. After catching, we fill large buckets with water and move the rays to the beach in these in order to measure, weigh, tag, and take tissue samples. The team also works with many species of larger rays such as the Spotted Eagle Ray (Aetobatus laticeps), látigo, and Hypanus longus. Samples of these rays are taken from the diving site in the water using a tagging gun. Here are some pictures taken while diving over my past couple visits.
Volunteer : • ROCIO •
Nationality : Spain Period : August/September/October 2017
Holaaaa! Mi nombre es Rocio y tengo 27 años. Vengo de Barcelona (España) y me voy a quedar 3 meses aquí con el Equipo Tora Carey.
En un par de días hará 1 mes que estoy viviendo esta espectacular aventura…y se me ha pasado volando!!! He podido ver ballenas de cerca, varias especies de tortuga de la zona, bebés tortuga, diferentes rayas, loras y muchos insectos! Pero sin duda una de las mejores cosas es tener tiempo con los niños y niñas del pueblo!
En estos días aquí me ha dado para ver mil cosas y vivir muchas experiencias que son un recuerdo para siempre! Es algo que voy a guardar como un gran tesoro para toda la vida
Espero seguir disfrutando de esta aventura, no tengo ninguna duda que va a ser espectacular!
Hasta la próxima!