The project is located on a remote Caribbean beach in Costa Rica, 2km north of the Pacuare river mouth. It covers 7,1 km of coastline of a black sand barrier, surrounded by rain forest and several coastal lagoons and palm swamp forests. The beach is part of the 50 km stretch between Tortuguero National Park (famous for its sea turtles) on the north Caribbean coast and the Port of Limón city. Fresh water canals and the tropical vegetation in Pacuare provide habitat for not only an abundant quantity of birds and mammals such as monkeys, tamanduas, raccoons, coati, sloths, but also for manatees and fresh water dolphins, turtles, crocodiles and iguanas. The area is not only unique in every way, but is also a famous nesting site for many Leatherback, Hawksbill and Green sea turtles that come ashore to lay their eggs. Illegal egg poaching and hunting for sea turtles, pollution and beach erosion are threatening the survival of the already critically endangered animals in Pacuare. This has caused an alarming decline in turtles being born on this beach. In particular the 7.1 km covered by the project are in danger, it has no legal protection whatsoever. Volunteers play a very important role in changing this situation. In Costa Rica the poaching of sea turtles or sea turtle eggs is considered a crime by the Law 8325, but the enforcement remains rather difficult.
Between March and November volunteers, international research assistants and local research assistants of the community of Pacuare patrol the beach in three sectors ( 2.4 km each) and two shifts from 8 pm to 12 am and 12 am to 4 am. It takes at least 4 hours to patrol the beach effectively and if a nesting turtle is found, the eggs are collected and relocated into a hatchery. The turtle work is done following an official protocol and involves tagging, taking biometry and other important data of the turtle. Former poachers, now trained in conservation techniques together with previously trained volunteers carry out the important work and are also responsible for guarding the nests at the hatchery and releasing baby turtles. Additionally, volunteers help maintaining our rescue center and play an essential role in taking care for injured sea turtles. The remoteness of Pacuare beach and the basic living conditions at the project site offer an exclusive condition for volunteers. The lack of phone signal, cars, shops, and other modern life facilities enriches the quality of an extraordinary experience and allows a connection between people and nature, creating the best environment for making a difference in the life of these amazing creatures – the marine turtles.