On this project, you will be essential in the daily care and preservation of the turtles. Working with the turtles here (green, olive ridley, loggerhead and hawksbill) means you will be involved in a wide range of tasks, including:
Caring For Turtles That Live At The Centre
At the centre there are four species of turtle resident (predominantly green but also loggerhead, olive ridley and one hawksbill) and your principal role as a volunteer is to take care of these.
Maintaining The Project Area And Beach
This is a major part of the work here; as you will need to make sure the nesting sites remain as healthy and safe as possible to give the turtles the best chance of survival.
Burying The Eggs Brought By Vendors
This is another essential part of the project work. Vendors often bring eggs to the centre and these need to be buried as soon as possible in order to safeguard them for hatching.
Cleaning And Constructing The Hatcheries
Keeping the area clean is essential in keeping the turtles healthy. As part of the rota you will be responsible for ensuring the tanks and hatchery are clean. You’ll even get to clean the turtle’s shells!
Feeding The Turtles
This will of course be a daily task and you will be involved in cutting up and preparing the food (which is predominantly tuna) before feeding it to the turtles.
This is often the volunteer’s favourite activity – particularly when releasing the babies back into the sea! You will often need to be on hand to scare away predators such as birds.
Teaching English To Local Communities
English teachers are scarce in Kosgoda, so English-speaking volunteers are always greatly valued by locals who are keen to learn. Volunteers spend some afternoons interacting with the community, teaching conversational English. (Please note, during Sri Lankan school holidays, this activity will not be available.)
In order to help educate people about the importance of preserving the sea turtles in Sri Lanka and the work of the project, volunteers will often lend a hand with tours of the hatchery.
Please note itineraries are subject to change and what follows is simply a rough guideline.
Day 1 - The Adventure Begins:
You will arrive into Colombo airport and be met at arrivals before transferring to the project site. The evening comprises of an orientation talk which will cover important information regarding the volunteer project itself and is a chance to get any questions you may have answered.
Day 2-14 - Project Days:
After an Introduction to the sea turtle conservation project and staff, a work schedule is devised and then it is time to start the volunteering activities. You will take part in a variety of tasks and activities and be involved in the day-to-day running of the project and the turtle conservation efforts. These will include hatchery building and beach clearing. Weekends are free for you to spend as you wish.
Day 15 - Final Day:
Today will be your final day. After fond farewells you will be transferred back to the airport in Colombo for your return flight home or to commence your independent travel plans.
Dates, Availability & Price
To secure a place on this project a deposit of $245 is required at the time of booking, with the remaining balance due any time up to 60 days prior to your start date.
Select a duration below to see the available start dates. All dates shown are currently available for you to join this project!
Updates & Outcomes
Humans are by far the biggest danger turtles are facing in the modern world, and the reason for this is because both the animals and their eggs are valuable commodities. Hundreds of thousands of eggs are stolen from beaches in Sri Lanka every year, and the shells of these stolen eggs will often then be used for something as mundane as a hair slide or comb. The rarity of these items ensures their high demand, and this is a major issue for the future of the turtles. In Sri Lanka, where poverty is widespread, both turtles and their eggs are stolen by poachers and then sold on the black market.
The overall aim of the sea turtle conservation project is to monitor local sea turtle activity and conserve the local nesting-sites. Making the public aware of the turtle's precarious position in terms of endangerment is essential in the fight to protect them. If local people learn of the turtles as an essential part of their ecosystem, it is hoped that they will eventually cease to be seen as simply a money-making opportunity.
So far since 1988, the Great Turtle Project has released over 94,000 hatchlings of the hawksbill, green, loggerhead and olive ridley species, and staff are entirely dedicated to keeping this number rising.
- posted on 07/07/2018
- by Demi Augustou
Ever wondered what an average day in the life of a conservation volunteer looked like? Dive in and read about daily adventures at The Great Turtle Project in Sri Lanka and how you can help make a difference!
We recently spoke to Sandra, a volunteer on The Great Turtle Project in Sri Lanka, to learn about her experience. See what she thought of her time away!
Did you know that the 23rd of May is World Turtle Day? Find out how you can aid the conservation of these marvelous marine creatures by reading on.
Is this trip for you?
Whilst on this project you will be staying in a designated volunteer house located right next to the turtle sanctuary. The house has a swimming pool and is in close proximity to the beach, which is perfect for any free time you may have. Rooms are allocated on a twin or triple share basis and have air conditioning. Additionally, all bathrooms have western toilets and hot showers.
Whilst on-site you will be provided with three meals a day and bottled water served by the housekeeper in the volunteer house. Breakfast consists of fresh fruit, bread and jams and eggs, lunch can be chosen from a menu containing items such as BLT, soup, omelette and dinner will typically consist of Sri Lankan dishes like curry (fish or chicken) and rice, vegetable dishes served buffet style.
This project does not involve much in the way of physical labour, but you will usually be working in fairly humid conditions. Therefore, you should have a basic level of fitness to take part. No specific skills or experience are required, just commitment to the project and its aims. However, you must be prepared to work alongside other members of the team and to bring an upbeat, positive attitude to the endeavour as a whole.
The vaccinations required will depend on your medical history. We recommend that you consult with your GP regarding your own immunisation needs. In conjunction with this, we would also recommend that you check Fit for Travel’s website.
When Is The Best Time To Volunteer?
Due to the seasonality of turtle nesting and hatching, this project has a fairly regular time of year when turtles come up to nest on the beach and when baby turtles hatch.
Nesting season is typically from late November to April, and as turtle eggs take 7 weeks to hatch, hatching season is typically from January until early June. The best time to volunteer is therefore between November and June, with the most popular time to volunteer being from February to April, as this is peak hatching season.
It is still possible to join this project outside of these months as there are turtles at the sanctuary all year round (for teaching purposes, the head starter programme and also if rescued/injured), however, if you're ideally looking to travel between August and December, you may want to take a look at our Costa Rica Turtle Conservation Experience as an alternative.
You will need to arrive into Colombo International airport between 9am - 5pm on the start date of your project, where you will be met by a project representative and transferred to the project site, roughly three hours' drive away.
If you would like help booking your flights, please visit our flights page and fill out the form. A member of our team will get back in touch as soon as possible with a suitable quote.
All travellers to Sri Lanka require a visa to enter the country. Short stay visas of thirty days can be obtained online via the Electronic Travel Authority found here. These can be extended for up to three months once in Sri Lanka from the Department of Immigration & Emigration. However, it is advisable to contact the Sri Lankan High Commission in your country of origin at least one month before travel. Please note that your passport must be valid for at least six months before travel.
Currency and Exchange Rates
The currency in Sri Lanka is the Sri Lankan Rupee (LKR). The exchange rate is around 1 LKR = 0.004 GBP, 0.007 USD, 0.005 EUR. Please note exchange rates are subject to change.
What's included in the price of the project?
- Airport transfers
- All meals
- Detailed orientation
- Volunteer project activities
- On-site project coordinator
- 24 emergency contact in the UK
- Bottled water
- Wi-fi internet access
What's not included?
- Any flights
- Travel insurance to include cover for repatriation
- Visas if required
- Soft and alcoholic drinks