Thank you to all those who showed your support toward our volunteering journey to Ostional Costa Rica, which we undertook in January. As mentioned previously, we raised $7,500 and part of this money was put aside to donate directly to the volunteer project.
We were lucky enough to be assigned to work with Leatherback and Pacific Green turtles which visit the beaches of Ostional to lay their eggs. While living with my host family I got to see firsthand the importance of this project to both the turtles and the Ostional community. I also learnt of the devastation human activities have on these beautiful creatures.
On meeting Wagner Quiros, the Ostional ISV Project Director, he explained to me the importance of the San Juanillo fishing community but also explained the devastation this fishing can cause to the Olive Ridley, Pacific Green and Leatherback turtles which nest on surrounding beaches – one of these beaches being Ostional. Artisanal fishers use bottom longlines with J hooks and the combination of these two methods results in the incidental catching of turtles and other species.
Much research has been conducted to determine ways to reduce this bycatch. One such method is the use of circular hooks which has been proven to reduce catch of turtles, dolphins and rays. After much discussion it was decided that, in conjunction with the San Juanillo Fishermen Association, we would use the funds raised to purchase circle hooks for 12 fishing boats. It's nice to think that our support can reduce the number of turtles harmed from fishing and at the same time promote sustainable fishing practices within the local community. I have attached a brochure which explains the details of this initiative in more detail.
Once again, I'd like to thank you for your support and for helping make our volunteering journey so successful. If you would like to know more about our journey, please go to www.myriadtech.com.au/blog/alana/costarica where you can find articles and photos from our time away.
I have been extremely passionate about marine life, in particularly turtles, for as long as my small memory can remember. I have a complete fascination for anything that is wild and self sustaining. To me it is a natural wonder which no man could replicate. So when my awesome friend Alana suggested we travel to Costa Rica to take part in a volunteer project with the main focus of conserving critically endangered turtles on the rugged beaches of Ostional I hardly thought, I just said YES!.
Costa Rica to me is the epitome of beauty in every way, the people, the scenery, the flora and fauna, the food and last but not least the tequila!. After a long, hot and bumpy bus journey we had arrived in the small, dusty village of Ostional. Feeling extremely dazed and slightly anxious of the unknown we were all welcomed by a group of healthy and sun kissed looking people ready to take us off to our chosen host families.
I was greeted by a young boy Kielor, 14 who was son of Flor and Louis. At first he looked slightly disappointed that I wasn't a 6 foot Swedish blonde but he instead was stuck with a four foot extra from the lord of the rings trilogy!. We had a brief if a little strained conversation using my broken Spanish whilst like a young gentleman he kindly offered to carry my bags. It was quite probable that he noticed the buckets of sweat dripping down my forehead and the look of 'dead woman walking' on my face!
5 minutes down the dirt tracks was a quaint looking casa, this is where I would call home for the next 2 weeks. Kielor showed me to my room and put my bags on the comfy looking bed, which I wanted to climb into immediately. He introduced to my host family and Flor the mother decided she would have to feed me straight away. My first meal consisted of a vast amount of beans, rice and grilled plantain; this would be more than fine with me for coming weeks as it tasted amazing.
This was not my first experience of staying with a host family and I have come to believe it is the best way to learn about a countries tradition and to absorb its culture. In this small village on such an isolated peninsula they show such admirable self sufficiency without exhausting their land. They bring life back to the pleasurable basics and everything moves as such a relaxed pace. They show strong connections in their family units as most of their extended family live on the same street. Their house was always full of people and I could endlessly hear their constant chatter and laughter.
To the main reason why we ventured to Ostional was of course because of the turtles. There are three particular species which visit the beaches here to make their nests and lay their hopeful eggs. The olive Ridley who is a much more regular visitor to these shores, the Leatherback who is extremely rare and a near mystery to our seas, and finally the Green Pacific who can also be seen regularly off the coast of Queensland. All of these wonderful creatures are endangered mainly due to us humans putting pressures on their precious environment.
For example a huge problem is overfishing and bycatch in which turtles and other marine species get caught in enormous trawler nets and so drown. There is illegal poaching of their eggs, pollution and lastly climate change; the intense sun heats up the sands temperature well over what the turtle eggs can survive and therefore never hatch.
We came to Costa Rica with the aim of trying to reduce these preventable risks, to enable that all species are given half a chance of surviving to sexual maturity. Our efforts consisted of nightly patrols of the beaches to ward off poachers, the guarding and monitoring of the Leatherback hatchery whereby if patrollers spotted a Leatherback female nesting we would collect her eggs whilst she was still laying and swiftly relocate them to our shaded hatchery in order for them to have a higher hatching success rate. We also participated in beach cleanups and conservation talks.
I have learnt so much about turtles over this period of time and I think if it's possible I love them even more. I am in ore of their natural instincts, their vast migrations' and the fact they come back to nest on the very same shores they were born on after travelling thousands of miles. They have seen the dinosaurs come and go and I believe because of that they wholly deserve to live on for as long as this planet exists, they definitely own that right. I am just so happy that myself, Alana and Jono have been to the unknown, beautiful village of Ostional to witness one of Mother Nature's most amazing animals of the sea.
Check out all our photos here.
Here are the stats from our time at Ostional:
Each person completed 30 hours of shift work at the hatchery. As a group we completed 270 hours.
Each person walked 67.5km participating in beach patrols and as a group we walked 750kms (no wonder we all lost weight)!!
We carried out 170 nest exhumations, sifted 8.5 cubic meters of sand and collected over 80kg of plastic.
2 leatherbacks arrived during our stay and laid 127 eggs.
2 pacific greens also blessed us with their presence and laid 150 eggs.
Check out the photos here!!
Ostional is a small town on the pacific coast of Costa Rica. With only 800 people living here, the roads in and out are dirt, there is no internet cafe, and the only working pay phone in town had the receiver cut off (so apologies to anyone trying to contact me).
For the 13 days we were here I stayed with Anna in a cute little blue house just minutes from the beach. Anna is a beautiful Spanish woman with a huge family. She has lots of children and grandchildren continuously dropping by. She lives alone but never seems to be alone. This is one of the nicest traits of the Costa Rican people; family always comes first. She is also arguably the best cook in town. She can make a mean Pintos, delicious vegetable soup and I’m always happiest on mornings when she has cooked me pancakes. Initially I felt uneasy about staying in a home of someone I didn’t know and having her cook and wash for me. Throw in the language barrier and it took me a good couple of days to settle in.
For those interested, here’s a quick run down of some of the stuff we got up to each day:
Night patrols run every evening from 7pm to 12am and 12am to 5am. We walk up and down the beach looking for tracks belonging to Pacific Green and Leatherback turtles coming up to the beach to lay their eggs. The patrolling also deters poachers. The nights are sometimes long and very hot, but the stars are beautiful and the beach is so peaceful.
Hatchery shifts run 24 hours a day. The hatchery provides a cool, protected place for leatherback eggs. Due to the high temperatures in the sand, the success rate of leatherback hatchlings on Ostional Beach is 0%. So all leatherback eggs are moved into the hatchery. Unfortunately no leatherback hatchlings were expected to hatch during our stay so we spent the shifts removing bugs and spiders and sifting sand.
Exhumations involve digging up old Olive Ridley nests to determine how many hatched and reasons for not hatching. Imagine the smell of rotting eggs, then multiply this by 10 and you’ll start to get an idea of how bad this smells.
Exactly as it implies, we walk along the beach picking up any rubbish we come across. I found this really satisfying because the results are immediate.
Over the 13 days we saw many Olive Ridley hatchlings digging their way out of their nests and making a dash to the ocean. It’s quite painful to watch and you want to pick them up and give them a hand, but it’s essential that they make their own way. They dodge vulchers, dogs, chickens and crazy uneducated tourists. Only 1 in 1,000 hatchlings will survive. It’s not great odds but without our help only 1 in 10,000 would make it.
On our 3rd to last night at 3am we were all woken and told to run down to the beach. A leatherback named ‘Princess’ had come to shore and was about to lay her eggs. She was like a huge beautiful dinosaur. Leatherbacks are classed as critically endangered so it was truly a privilege to watch. This was definitely the highlight of my trip.
We have become very used to beach life. All 3 of us are tanned and fit from walking so many kms everyday. One thing I’m not sure i could ever get used to is Costa Rica’s array of creepy crawlies. I’ve had a small altercation with a huge black spider, a scorpian in the shower and a very venomous sea snake. Somehow I ended up with a swollen elbow and one evening I watched my ankles turn into cankles. But it has been an amazing experience and if our small effort contributes to the continuing survival of these precious creatures, I’ll be a happy lady. Adios!!
As we are about to embark on our adventure tour, our time is limited and at this point we are able to post any photos. But we promise we will put some up as soon as we can.
Today Jono, Lolly and I all became crazily excited (and I may have even cried a little) when we received our project allocation for Costa Rica. We will be travelling to Ostional where we will monitor olive ridley, pacific green and leatherback sea turtles - all considered to be in danger of extinction.
In our small team of 9 volunteers we will conduct nightly beach patrols, from 7pm to midnight and midnight to 5am, measuring and collecting data on adult turtles. During the day we will work in the hatcheries measuring and weighing recently-born hatchlings and releasing the turtles back into the ocean.
Only 35 days until departure!!
Thank you to all those who attended and all those who donated gifts towards our Comedy Night held on October 1 in which we strived to raise funds for our volunteer journey to Costa Rica. We are pleased to say that, along with your support, we were able to raise the following amounts:
- Comedy ticket sales: $3200
- Table sponsorships: $1300
- Raffle ticket sales: $945
- Chocolate frog sales: $2100
Because of your help and generosity, in total, we were able to raise a little over $7500.
We are looking forward to departing on our journey on January 7, 2011 and are excited about making a difference in Costa Rica.
We would like to keep you up to date on our travels and let you know just how beneficial your support was to our volunteer work. With this in mind, we will be regularly posting stories and photos here while we are away. Check out some of the photos from the comedy night now.
Once again, we'd like to thank you for your support and for helping make our fundraising event so successful. If you would like to know more about International Student Volunteers, please go to www.isvonline.org.
Alana, Lolly and Jono.
The comedy night is next week!! We have sold 200 tickets and thank each of you for showing your support. We'd like to make it a full house and still have 100 tickets to go so if you know anyone that needs a good laugh, please invite them along - it will be a great night and it's for a great cause. If you haven’t got your tickets yet, now is the time. Please contact me on 0434 260 615 or purchase online using the links below. Please help us pack out the venue by clicking on the Facebook link below and sharing the event with your friends. Looking forward to seeing you all on October 1.
Jono Hills, Alana Helbig and Lolly Cornish, in conjunction with The Comedy Empire, invite you to a hilarious night of stand-up comedy at the Broncos Leagues Club, Red Hill 8pm October 1. Featuring comedians:
You may have seen Chris on Rove quite a few times or on an array of other mainstream TV shows. He is also an Australian Comedian of the Year winner putting him along-side comedians such as Carl Barron and Jimoin. Chris is regarded as one of Australia's great comic minds.
You may have seen Rob on 'The Footy Show'. Rob Brown is an International headliner but for this event he will be your hilarious MC. He'll be there to kick the night off with a bang and to introduce your featured acts.
A punchy and observational award winning NZ comedian as seen on 'The Comedy Channel'.
All these comedians are headline acts so you are in for a treat with three in one night. All for a good cause raising funds for Conservation In Costa Rica.
To purchase tickets contact us directly:
Ph: 0434 260 615
Ph: 0405 161 935
Ph: 0432 252 905
Or contact MOSHTIX:
On your mobile: www.moshtix.mobi
Phone: 1300 GET TIX (438 849)
Or MOSHTIX outlets:
Including Rocking Horse Records, Butterbeats, Kill The Music.
To find an outlet near you visit www.moshtix.com.au/outlets.asp
$30.00 - Pre Sales
$33.50 – Moshtix
$35.00 - On The Door
Help us by sharing this event with your friends on Facebook.
Costa Rica is known as a country of outstanding biodiversity and natural beauty; Costa Ricans desire to keep their country this way. Scientists, biologists and locals are combining their efforts to try to protect the environment. By volunteering in Costa Rica, we will be part of important research that is critical to the success of long-term conservation management strategies. The primary goal of these projects is to obtain scientific data that can then be interpreted and shared with the wider scientific community, in addition to local authorities who manage natural resources.
Volunteer tasks may include:
- Monitoring dolphin, monkey and frog populations as ecological indicators of ecosystems health;
- Beach patrols to protect the nests of leatherback, green and hawksbill sea turtles;
- Recording and analyzing data from beach surveys;
- Construction and monitoring of hatcheries where endangered nests are relocated;
- Beach cleaning;
- Monitoring seed traps at pastures and fruiting trees;
- Observing feeding behavior of spider monkeys, toucan and other frugivores at fruiting trees;
- Monitoring frugivores population; and
- Conducting seed predation experiments and mapping seedlings.
International Student Volunteers will notify us 30 days prior to departure of the specific volunteering tasks we will be participating in. We will also help support alternative sustainable tourism by participating in family home stays.
We have been selected to represent Australia in an international volunteer work program in January 2011. We will be travelling to Costa Rica to volunteer for a minimum of 80 hours in a project focusing on conservation development.
We are truly excited to spend our summer volunteering abroad as we have the opportunity to learn about another culture and give back to a country which needs our help. We will be joining participants from universities across Australia and New Zealand who will travel to their host countries and divide into smaller volunteer groups.
Working under the direction of an organisation called International Student Volunteers, (www.isvonline.org), every volunteer project is coordinated and supervised by a local host organisation (governmental or non-governmental) run in accordance with the needs of the community.
This experience will broaden our awareness of environmental issues and give us hands-on, practical experience in conservation work. Our team will be dedicated to working in areas such as endangered species protection, scientific research and habitat restoration while we receive valuable education in sustainable management of resources and responsible use of the natural environment.
Our goal is to raise $10,000 to cover travel expenses and to donate to the host organisation. We would be grateful for your help. We have established this blog to keep our sponsors up to date on progress with the fundraising and to gain awareness for the cause. If you would like to know more, feel free to contact us.