sea turtle conservancy – Panama
Sea Turtle Conservancy
Since 2003, the Sea Turtle Conservancy (STC) has conducted research, conservation work, training and community education in the region of Bocas del Toro, Panama, on seven associated sea turtle nesting sites spread around the Bocas archipelago. STC’s efforts in Panama are focused on two main sea turtle species: leatherbacks and hawksbills, both of which are endangered globally, but still nest in significant numbers on STC project beaches. STC’s work has been crucial in protecting these species and increasing education about their ecological importance.
Through this expedition, you will get the opportunity to work side by side STC’s researchers in some of the most remote places in Panama. During your stay, you will be at the forefront of STC’s conservation efforts by helping researchers collect data, conducting nest surveys and inventories, and partaking in night beach patrols. In addition to aiding STC’s conservation work, you will also get the opportunity to view incredible wildlife, snorkel alongside Caribbean fish, and learn about local indigenous cultures. We hope you join us on this adventure of a lifetime!
Importantly, the STC station does not have traditional grid-tied electricity, but it does have solar panels which provide lighting at night. Additionally, food and beverages, including water, are shipped in with guests, stored in heavy-duty coolers and prepared by a cook in the station’s modest gas-equipped kitchen and dining hall.
Sleeping arrangements are dorm-style with bunk beds in a newly constructed guest building. Water at the station is collected from rainwater and stored in elevated cisterns, which gravity-feed the restrooms and showers. Note: The water is not heated and is not drinkable.
April 21 – 27
May 12 – 18
$4000 -$5000 (not including international airfare)
GUIDELINES FOR PARTICIPATION
- Participants must be 15 or older.
- Minors must be accompanied by an adult
- Trips are led by one or two highly skilled Expedition Leaders and are capped at 10 participants.
Who can participate?
Eco-Volunteers must be 15 years or older (under 18 must be accompanied by an adult). Participants will be required to obtain a scientific passport prior to traveling. The Sea Turtle Conservancy will expedite this for us – but it can take up to 8 weeks to process.
Please note that this is a sample schedule and activities may vary depending on the specific dates, length of trip etc.
The mission of our trips is to deploy sustainable solutions to support our partners’ conservation goals while fostering eco-conscious tourism and promoting education. A percentage of your payment is a tax-deductible donation that will help us deploy sustainable technologies to STC.
Day 1 (Sunday)
- Fly to Panama City, Panama in the morning and transfer to a nearby municipal airport to take a late afternoon flight via Air Panama to the coastal community of Bocas del Toro.
- Spend the first night at a comfortable water-front hotel in Bocas with a welcome group dinner with STC staff.
Day 2 (Monday)
- Travel via boat to the STC research station at Soropta Beach. Boats will transport supplies, guests and their luggage. The boat ride takes approximately one hour, traveling through a beautiful bay and canopied tropical river to the dock at STC’s remote station, which is located miles from the nearest neighbor. Once settled in at the station, prepare for a sea turtle night patrol.
- During the morning, participate in STC’s morning track survey of the beach to collect information on turtle distribution and nesting abundance. In addition, individuals may be able to support hatchery duties, collecting turtle eggs and moving them to STC’s hatchery to keep them safe from poachers.
- After lunch, take a boat tour out on the river to view birds, sloths and possibly manatees. A portion of each day will also be spent relaxing or hiking the beach.
- In the evening, partake in STC’s nightly beach monitoring and tagging project focused on leatherback turtles. Depending on expeditions dates, individuals may get the opportunity to apply satellite transmitters to the turtles at night. Note: STC monitors the migratory movements of leatherbacks as part of its work, and the tracks of the turtles are posted online for participants to follow.
- Travel back to Bocas del Toro by boat and then on to Tranquillo Bay, an upscale eco-lodge where STC monitors hawksbill nesting on Zapatilla Cay. Visit Zapatilla Cay to observe the camp, explore the small island and snorkel around the nearshore reefs.
- Group dinner at either Bocas or Tranquillo Bay
Day 6 (Optional)
- There is an option to stay an additional may night at Tranquillo Bay. If so, spend the day exploring, kayaking, surfing (depending on conditions), snorkeling and/or hiking around this beautiful area.
Day 6 or 7
- Depart Bocas via Air Panama Air for Panama City to catch a late afternoon international flight back to the States. Note: Any delay could jeopardize this itinerary, and Air Panama does not fly to the international airport from Bocas. It can take up to one hour, depending on traffic, to get from the municipal airport to the international airport. For this reason, flying back to Panama City on one day, spending the night in Panama City, and departing back to the U.S. on the following day is recommended.