On October the 12th my API group took an excursion to the Matapalo ASVO Sea Turtle Conservation site to volunteer. This was certainly a rewarding and educational experience.

The Matapalo site is one of three where AVSO, or the Association of Volunteers for Service at Protected Areas, provides wildlife preservation services. At this site in particular, the focus is on safeguarding the Sea Turtles, especially during nesting season.

Matapalo beach is located on Costa Rica’s Pacific Coast. The journey there from the country’s central San Jose area is aesthetic: wildlife paves the road the entire way. One pit stop my group and I made while en route was to Rio Tarcoles, where we witnessed a float of crocodiles emerge from the water, bask on the shorelines, and devour pieces of chicken that travelers tossed to them.

Once we arrived at Matapalo, we were greeted by volunteer staff who educated us about the turtles and their environment. While we were at the site, we extracted a turtle’s nest from the wild and placed it in the hatchery for protection. Four turtles’ nests also hatched overnight; overall we welcomed a few hundred hatchlings into the world. In the early hours of the morning we released them into the ocean, under moonlight, to embark on the rest of their lives.

Volunteering at the Matapalo Conservation site was truly memorable. I recommend it to anyone who desires a deeper connection with nature or themselves.

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