VACANT:272 - Research Assistant
Organization: Sea Turtle Protection Organisation Region: Bocas del Toro, Panama

Sea Turtle Protection in Bocas del Toro

Sea turtles clearly play important roles in marine ecosystems. By grazing on seagrass, controlling sponge distribution, feasting on jellyfish, transporting nutrients or supporting other marine life, sea turtles play vital roles in maintaining the health of the oceans.

This organisation, founded in 1959, began its work in Costa Rica, but has expanded its research and conservation efforts throughout Central America and the Wider Caribbean and uses research, habitat protection, public education, community outreach, networking and advocacy as its basic tools.

The internship the Sea Turtle Protection organisation offers is perfect for students of


2) Applied biology

3) Marine Biology

4) Wildlife Management

At the moment of this writing 3 projects are in proces:

A) Beach profile elaboration (goal: defining how much beach is usable and without risks for the sea turtles); the broadness, the steepness etc needs to be mapped.

B) Dataloggers: Little devices are placed into the nests of the turtles to find out what the temperatura is (goal: learning about how the changing of the temperature influences how many male & female turtles will be born).

C) Evaluation of threats the turtle nests are facing (goal: define strategies to protect sea turtles); for example dogs seem to dig up eggs and strategies have been defined to prevent this and more threats need to be investigated.  

After getting a basic idea of what the organisation stands for and aims to do, you can help with both field work and office work.

At the office you can process collected data, attend walk-ins, help prepare various

With the fieldwork you can help collect data on two different beaches in the Bocas del toro Archipel, sometimes work will be at night, sometimes it can be done in the daytime. You need to be adventurous and flexible and not afraid of insects, new & different food, physical (kind of) hard work and rustic conditions. This is not for anyone. The nights you stay in the field you pay $25 for transportation|accommodation|3 meals (during these field trips you don’t need to spend any money besides this). You need to be prepared for sun (bring sunglasses, hat, sunblock), mosquitos (long sleeves, long pants, “fast drying” clothes) and rain (rainjacket, crocs).

You will work under supervisión of Señor Garcia, Spanish and living in Panama, Licenciado en Biología and speaks good English.

It is the mission of this NGO for Sea turtles is to ensure the survival of sea turtles within the Caribbean, Atlantic and Pacific through research, education, training, advocacy and protection of the natural habitats upon which they depend.

This NGO is the world’s oldest sea turtle research and conservation group. It was founded in 1959 by world-renowned sea turtle expert to save sea turtles from eminent extinction through rigorous science-based conservation. Headquartered in Florida, the organization carries out worldwide programs to conserve and recover sea turtle populations through research, education, advocacy and protection of the natural habitats upon which depend upon. Over the course of nearly 60 years, this NGO´s research programs have yielded much of what is now known about sea turtles and the threats they face, and the organization is applying this knowledge to carry out the world’s most successful sea turtle protection and recovery programs.


Two main species of sea turtles come to nest at Playa Bluff permanently: the leatherback (Dermochelys coriacea) and the hawksbill (Eretmochelys imbricata). Several human related activities threaten the continuity of these species, the most important are the theft of nests and the killing the turtles on the beach. We can also add the plundering of nests by pets, compaction of the beaches by vehicles or constructions, the killing of females and males at the time of copulation in the sea off the beaches, and the capture incidentally while fishing for tuna or using longlines.


All species of sea turtles have been listed by the RED BOOK of the International Union of Conservation of Nature (IUCN) as endangered of extinction.

Students of carreers like: education, applied biology, Geo, Media& Design, Communication could have a good internship at this NGO.

As an intern you can participate/develop your own part of a project in the areas of:


Waste management


The goal is to reduce the amount of waste, especially plastics, foam and disposables. They try to achieve this in various ways both through the receivers as to the providers of waste this area the NGO has some results to be proud of. They achieved (with the help of other organizations) the reduction of plastic waste because they have convinced the local government to change their regulations and nowadays it is prohibited for shops to hand our plastic bags and they are working on regulations that prohibit the use of disposables in restaurants. Also, through their educational campaigns they create awareness on the results of waste and what they can do to reduce their ecological footprint.


Analyses of social problems and their impact on the environment


By doing this they try to get clear what is the relation between the behavior of several specific communities and their impact on the environment. For example the more traditional indigenous communities produce very little waste. The tourist industry is of big local economical importance but has a very big footprint with there consumption of water, electricity and production of waste. People of local communities often don't know another reality then their own and therefor do not appreciate their natural environment and take it for granted.


Educational programs


For sustainable effects this NGO is convinced of the importance of creating awareness by using education. They have developed (and want to develop more) educational programs environmental education for school children and adults. An example of a successful program as the training of local youngster so they get awareness and are now helping with guarding the beaches.

As an intern you will be spending time at different locations on the archipelago of Bocas del Toro a.o. at:


• the office of the organization in the center of town

• various local schools both public and private and both primary and secondary education

• at the beach collecting data and getting to know the fieldwork part of the project if wanted

• local ecological organizations to make each other stronger by working together in various ways

• the local government

• local businesses

• information stands at local fairs with providing information.


Your supervisor


This organization is used to receive foreign students and they will be coordinating and coaching you in your work thoroughly. Your first contact will be a person that has his degree in Biotechnology and Master in Oceanography and who speaks Spanish and English.



Costs for getting from the office to the various proyects will be covered. Also stays at the beach in order for research will be fully covered (basic circumstances).



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On-Stage Latin America provides many internships for all kinds of study programs. Besides the available vacancies on the website, we also offer a wide range of other internships. If you have a specific request, send us an e-mail and we will do our best to help you,

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