IT’S TURTLE TIME!

Thank you for adopting a turtle nest! About 70 nests have been adopted, mostly by grandparents and parents of school aged children. There are lots of nests left. And the ‘turtle season’ is about to begin!
Our goal is to find 200 nests this year, and hatch over 15,000 baby turtles!

Already, some turtles have come ashore to lay their eggs. Soon, we will begin to go to the beach at night to look for nests. When we find nests, we will take the eggs to the hatchery we have built in Tambor.

There, cute little turtles begin to develop inside each egg. In about 45 to 55 days, they will hatch. Then, we will carry them back to the beach and let them go.

YOUR ADOPTED NEST

Each of you has chosen a nest by number. The nests with the lowest numbers will be filled with eggs first.
When we find eggs for your nest, we will tell you in a second e-mail. We will tell you what kind of a turtle it was and give you some information about it. And we will tell you how many eggs we found, and when we expect them to hatch.
A few days before the turtles in your nest are expected to hatch, we will loosen the sand above the nest. This makes it easier for the little turtles to wiggle out of the sand. We will send you a third e-mail then, to let you know that your turtles are about to hatch. That’s when it gets really exciting!

Finally, in a fourth e-mail, we will give you the news – hopefully good news!

Sometimes, things go wrong, and that is disappointing and a bit sad. But our success rate is usually very high.

So, good luck!

 


ABOUT TAMBOR BAY TURTLES

Tambor Bay is located on the Pacific west coast of Costa Rica, at the southern tip of the Nicoya Peninsula. Tambor is a very scenic and friendly village, situated at the westerly end of our huge, beautiful and natural beach. At the other end of this 5.8 km., unbelievably uncrowded, yet spectacular beach is another quaint and friendly village – Pochote.

The bay – Bahia Ballena (Whale Bay) got its name because lots of whales once came here to bask and feed. Fortunately, the whales are beginning to come back in ever increasing numbers. Sea Turtles – olive ridleys mostly, also come to this bay and our beaches, with ever decreasing regularity! But, that’s why TBT is here, and hopefully why you are visiting our website. Together, we can change that – right?

The bay is horseshoe shaped, so it is well protected and very pretty. In fact, from Tambor, where the Tambor Bay Turtle hatchery is located, you won’t believe what you will see – the perfect outline of a giant crocodile that forms the headland along the east side of the bay! You just have to stop by and see this! While you are here, visit the Tambor Bay turtle hatchery and the Tambor nature centre, located on the grounds of the stunningly beautiful Tambor Tropical Beach Resort right on the beach at the mouth of our biggest river – Rio Panica.

Mid-way along the beach is the all-inclusive Barceló Tambor Beach Resort and, right beside it, a small regional airstrip (yes – you can also fly here!). On the opposite side of the airstrip is the Los Delfines Golf and Country Club, a spectacular golf course alongside a vibrant gated community of some 250 homes. Scarlet macaws and deer are everywhere it seems! The rest of the beach and the adjacent lands are still largely undeveloped.

Our bay and our beaches are rich with life, because we have six rivers that drain into the bay from the surrounding mountains. Nature abounds here, the birding is amazing and, just to remind you ……. we have turtles! It’s why Tambor is emerging as the ecotourism destination in this beautiful and still-being-discovered part of Costa Rica. You just have to come here – it’s not only beautiful and natural, it’s safe and quiet and friendly as well. While you are here, consider helping us out with ‘the turtle project’.

By the way, the climate here is as good (and reliable) as any place in Costa Rica. The ‘rainy season’ here is really nothing more than what we call ‘the green season’. Warm temperatures are guaranteed year-round and the rains, when they do come – mostly at night in May and June and from August to November – are beautiful, turning our area into a lush tropical paradise.

The latter part of the ‘green season’ (August through November) is also prime turtle season! Please join us for a spectacular working holiday – the experience of your lifetime! We can help you with that, if you help us!

 


 

Attracting enough volunteers for the 2018-19 ‘turtle season’ is critical to our success. In 2017, TBT suffered at times from a lack of volunteers, and although TBT enjoyed considerable success, we also missed too many opportunities to do more.

 

A number of residents and visitors who participated last year will return again this season to volunteer, either as beach patrollers, hatchery monitors, or both. All of those that have been identified as ‘leaders’ (and who will therefore be named on TBT’s 2018-19 scientific license) can perform both roles, but there are also a few others. A significant number of additional volunteers from the 2017 season are also specialists, doing only one job or the other but not both.

Early in the season (mid-July through October), few ex-pats are resident here (they arrive when the weather gets cold in the north) so, early on, we will need to rely more heavily on permanent local residents, ‘imported’ volunteers (nationals and internationals) and perhaps to a lesser extent, visitors to the area (see below).

In 2017, the local Tico residents were terrific, carrying most of the freight in the early season – the reason we were able to fill the hatchery before any eggs even hatched. Although a good number have indicated a willingness to return and help us out again, however, the numbers are simply not sufficient to do all that needs doing, especially given the fact that we will be starting a month earlier in 2018 than we did in 2017, and despite the fact we will not need any volunteers to monitor the hatchery because the first eggs we bring in will not begin to hatch until early to mid-September.

We will therefore need to recruit a constant supply of volunteers well in advance of the start of the season, so that we are ready on July 15, and so that we have an opportunity to provide the required training and instructions, get them settled in to their accommodation where necessary, etc. Student volunteers from Universidad Technica Nacional and local residents (both the 2017 core crew as well as new recruits) will be instrumental in the early going in particular. It is not known whether this will yield us sufficient numbers of volunteers, so we should assume that it will not, and actively recruit either nationals from outside the local area and/or internationals as well.

We may get some assistance from visitors eager to experience what it is like to work on a turtle project, BUT we will not likely know far enough in advance of their desire to participate to be able to count on them, and they will require training and supervision. Therefore, we need to develop a policy for how to handle ‘tourist volunteers’ that is different from how we handle the ‘dedicated volunteers’ – people who have taken the training and committed to a certain schedule and amount of volunteer hours well in advance of their actual involvement on the front lines.

The ‘tourist volunteers’, will essentially be ‘tag-alongs’ (simply accompanying trained volunteers) and so they should generally be charged a fee or required to make a donation for the chance to participate. In this way, we need not concern ourselves with expending valuable time and resources training people we didn’t know were coming, and may not stay longer than a day or two anyway. Many such participants will soon wear thin after they have had the experiences and we will have no control over when they come and go. If a tourist volunteer arrives and wants to commit to a minimum of, perhaps one week of volunteer time, then they could become a ‘dedicated volunteer’ and be trained, if/as they are needed.

NOTE : Costa Rican nationals should perhaps be treated differently because, after all, this is their country and there are many more benefits to allowing them to experience (and hopefully value more) what they have here in this beautiful land of theirs.

We may find that we have more ‘tourist volunteers’ in July and August, and in December – January and very few in September, October and November. Also, we may not have volunteers from the University at times, due to exam schedules, holiday periods, and breaks between semesters, etc. The ex-pat volunteers, who were instrumental in 2017 in keeping the hatchery going, only begin arriving in October, then sporadically until December, but are generally here in good numbers through December and January. We need to keep this in mind when recruiting volunteers and scheduling activities, otherwise we could end up with period with too many, and other times when we do not have enough.

For the same reason, attracting additional volunteers already living within the local area should be our top priority. Also, they will not need accommodation, they may have better access to transportation and there are other obvious community and social benefits as well.

Attracting volunteers from elsewhere in the South Nicoya Peninsula should be our next step – places like Montezuma, Santa Teresa and Paquera. This is probably best done by putting up posters in those communities and promoting the opportunities to groups like ASVO, at attractions like Curu and maybe even on the ferry (if we could ever get permission to put a poster up on the ferry?) It will be important to get this done soon – the sooner the better and by the end of April at the latest.

Recruiting international volunteers that are not ex-pats living some part of the year here, and for those perhaps otherwise not even planning to come to the South Nicoya Peninsula, is much more difficult. IF we get an article published in International Living magazine, as we hope to do, we may get a flood of enquiries for some short period of time, but we don’t know yet when (even if) this is going to happen.

Having our new tambor turtle rescue website up and running will helps as well, as it will contain a link to enable interested persons the opportunity to simply express their desire to become volunteers. Being able to offer affordable (if not free) accommodation options will also help greatly, as this is the primary stumbling block for many cash-strapped youth – who will likely be among our most enthusiastic volunteers.

The following rules apply to volunteers:

  • Volunteers must be at least 16 years of age or, if younger, be accompanied by a responsible adult.
  • Volunteers are required to take the necessary training, to be provided by TBT;
  • Volunteers must commit to at least one week of work, generally consisting of a minimum of ten shifts, which could vary in length from as little as two to as much as six hours, or a minimum of 40 hours in total.
  • Preference may be given to volunteers who are available for longer time frames (to maximize the benefit of having to train volunteers)
  • Volunteers will not be permitted to carry out any activities on their own unless they first obtain ‘leader’ status (having both the necessary training and field experience gained over a longer period of time);
  • Volunteers who will benefit most from the experiences gained (ie. as credits for volunteerism or for academic enhancement, for example), will be given priority.
  • Volunteers must be physically capable of doing the work which, for beach patrollers in particular, could involve several kilometers of walking the beach each day (night)
  • Volunteers will be required to sign a waiver absolving TBT and its affiliates from any and all claims arising out of any activity related to volunteering on the project
  • TBT reserves the right to deny or terminate the involvement in the project of anyone who, in the sole discretion of TBT, is not, or no longer suitable.

Training Volunteers

“Dedicated volunteers’ will need to be trained. We will need to hold training sessions in both English and Spanish in early July, just prior to the start of the season. The English version of our training presentation needs to be up-dated, and then a Spanish version produced. An Operations Manual has also been produced in English and when it is up-dated, it also needs to be translated to Spanish.

Our first training sessions in each language should be video-recorded, so that trainees can simply watch it, then ask questions and get the required field training in the same way others do. In this way, it will not drain the resources, requiring training sessions virtually every week of the season, as volunteers come and go.

We also have an excellent power point presentation that volunteers should watch. It too needs to be translated into Spanish, something that we will be doing shortly under the direction of the Education and Public Relations sub-committee.

For any volunteer to be proficient in either beach patrols or hatchery monitoring, they will need to be accompanied and supervised by someone who is already a leader. Only when the leader feels a person has gained enough experience should that person themselves be graduated to a leader. Only leaders can sign off on beach patrol reports and nest record reports at the hatchery.

Accommodating Volunteers

To the extent that we need volunteers from outside the local area, we will need housing for those volunteers. We need to find places to accommodate volunteers – ideally in Los Delfines if they are going to be carrying out beach patrols, and in Tambor if they are going to be working at the hatchery. It is proposed that volunteers will look after their own meals for the most part (some could be billeted in private homes, although this will be the exception). However, we may need to provide transportation for some, back and forth between Los Delfines and Tambor.

Our need for volunteers (and therefore our need for accommodation for volunteers) will be greatest between July 15 and November 30. This is because most non-residents don’t come down until winter hits in the north, so are not available until late in the ‘turtle season’ to volunteer themselves.

For those who have a place in the Tambor area, here are some options we would propose:

  • Encourage them to plan a trip to their place here during the turtle season, and help us out with the project while they’re here. Homeowners will be encouraged to let us know when they’re coming, so that we can schedule them in for volunteer duties in advance of their arrival
  • Promote their villa for rent to volunteers in the turtle season, or allow us to promote it as a potentially available rental unit (we will pass on the homeowner’s contact information to prospective volunteers who are interested in, and able to rent a place while they’re here, but the homeowner gets to deal with the renter directly).
  • Offer their villa at no cost to TBT to manage so that we can house volunteers
  • Offer a room, or room and board for one or more TBT volunteers.

A wide variety of accommodation options are available for volunteers from abroad who wish to come to Tambor to work on the project – from luxury resorts to a simple bunk in a shared hostel style unit. Transportation to/from the Tambor area, as well as meals while you are here are generally always the responsibility of volunteers.

Because the Los Delfines Golf and Country Club is at the center of the beach, that is the best location for those who are interested, first and foremost, in beach patrols (looking for the turtle nests).

Because the hatchery itself is in Tambor, that is the best place to stay if you are primarily interested in monitoring the hatchery.

Of course, there are lots of ways to get back and forth from Los Delfines to/from Tambor, so either location will enable you to participate in any or all of the activities that interest you.

Because it’s the ‘green season’ here (we like to call it the ‘turtle season’), rooms are readily available and the rates are very reasonable.

There are a number of small, basic hotels in Tambor. Cabinas Christina, Mar Y Sol Ecotel, H&B, Costa Coral and Alkamar are all inexpensive options within easy walking distance of our hatchery.

The larger Barcelo Tambor Beach resort is a great option if you want to make your turtle adventure ‘all inclusive’. It’s also located right at the centre of the action – right on the beach and half way between the hatchery and Los Delfines!

Or you can go first class and stay right at the site of the hatchery at the Tambor Tropical Beach Resort – a gorgeous hotel right on the beach, at the Panica River in Tambor. (Thanks to their generosity and support, the Tambor Tropical property is actually where our hatchery is located).

Los Delfines is a gated community with over 200 private homes, many of which are available for rent at great rates, especially in the “turtle season”.

Some Los Delfines homeowners who are very supportive of the project are also willing to make their homes available to house student volunteers and youth who are willing to share accommodation. TBT will charge a very modest rental rent per night, to cover its costs, such as for cleaning, maintenance and repairs, electricity and other services, etc. TBT os committed to directing the net proceeds after expenses generated by rentals to the “turtle project”.

The following rules apply to volunteers:

  • Volunteers must be at least 16 years of age or, if younger, be accompanied by a responsible adult.
  • Volunteers are required to take the necessary training, to be provided by TBT;
  • Volunteers must commit to at least one week of work, generally consisting of a minimum of ten shifts, which could vary in length from as little as two to as much as six hours, or a minimum of 40 hours in total.
  • Preference may be given to volunteers who are available for longer time frames (to maximize the benefit of having to train volunteers)
  • Volunteers will not be permitted to carry out any activities on their own unless they first obtain ‘leader’ status (having both the necessary training and field experience gained over a longer period of time);
  • Volunteers who will benefit most from the experiences gained (ie. as credits for volunteerism or for academic enhancement, for example), will be given priority.
  • Volunteers must be physically capable of doing the work which, for beach patrollers in particular, could involve several kilometers of walking the beach each day (night)
  • Volunteers will be required to sign a waiver absolving TBT and its affiliates from any and all claims arising out of any activity related to volunteering on the project
  • TBT reserves the right to deny or terminate the involvement in the project of anyone who, in the sole discretion of TBT, is not, or no longer suitable.

 

Rules for Volunteers Accepting Accommodation Provided or Arranged by TBT While Working on the Turtle Project

  • Volunteers will be responsible for their own food and beverages.
  • Accommodation provided or arranged by TBT for volunteers will be ‘hostel’ style, shared accommodation in private villas, with up to five other volunteers.
  • Payment for accommodation is required to be in advance, without exception.
  • Volunteers will be required to pay $12.00 / night for a private bedroom and bathroom, or $8.00 per night for a shared bedroom with another volunteer and shared bathroom with that same person.
  • Air conditioning is present and operational in most rooms, but it is not to be used, because it is not needed in ‘the turtle season’.
  • Where swimming pools exist, the pool may be used by resident volunteers.
  • Laundry facilities, where they exist, may be used, provided prior instruction on the proper operation of the appliances is obtained.
  • volunteers will be required to sign a waiver absolving TBT and its affiliates as well as the homeowner from any and all claims associated with residing in accommodation provided or arranged by TBT.
  • Smoking in accommodation provided or arranged by TBT is strictly prohibited.
  • Volunteers agree to be scheduled for assignments by TBT, and TBT reserves the right to evict any volunteer who is not committed to any future volunteer assignments, on 24 hours notice.
  • Volunteers acknowledge that their residency in accommodation, whether provided or arranged by TBT, may be terminated by TBT to make room for new volunteers to which TBT has already committed accommodation (even though a volunteer may wish to stay on longer). TBT will do its best to make other satisfactory arrangements if the current volunteers are, in fact, needed.