If you enjoy being at the beach, are working hard, enthusiastic, and love turtles; then volunteering with sea turtles in Sri Lanka will be a dream come true! Along the coast of the Indian Ocean, you’ll have the opportunity to help clean & protect sea turtle habitats on the beach. Volunteers will also promote turtle conservation education, assist with research & monitoring, and (depending on the season) ensure newly hatched, baby turtles have a safe journey into the sea/ocean.
Volunteering with Sea Turtles in Sri Lanka
Sea turtles are one of the most universally at-risk animals on the planet; with nearly all of the species being classified as endangered. Now, more than ever, volunteers are needed to ensure their survival. Sea turtles lay their eggs in nests on beaches where they’re perpetually at risk due to the presence of tourists, poachers, and predatory animals. Despite eggs being laid in large numbers, very few of the baby sea turtles survive to adulthood.
Volunteering with Sea Turtles in Sri Lanka works to increase the survival rate for these amazing creatures. This is a truly rewarding program and requires individuals who are enthusiastic and dedicated. Some of the tasks volunteers can expect include: monitoring & protection of nests and eggs, control walks, trail & infrastructure maintenance, beach cleanups, and tagging and liberation (release) of newborn turtles. In addition, volunteers may also be asked to notify beach-goers of the presence of a nest and educate both tourists and locals on the importance of the protection of the turtles.
The Sea Turtle Conservation project runs between December/January to April/May.
From June to November; there are fewer turtle hatchlings, the seas are rougher; and rains are heavier. Therefore, volunteering during this time is not advised and (depending on the hatchery’s needs) may not be possible.
Room & Board
All projects in Sri Lanka are based out of a basic hotel rooms based in the city or village in which the project is located. Local transportation to/from the project site is included.
- Shared, single-sex hotel rooms (max 3 volunteers) with en suite washrooms and air conditioning
- Tap water in Sri Lanka is not drinkable, but filtered water is provided
- 3 meals per day provided at the hotel
- WiFi is not typically available in the hotels, so volunteers are encouraged to acquire a local SIM card (assuming they possess an unlocked/international phone) if they wish to have internet access
As with all GOAT Volunteer projects, there are 2 primary fees associated with volunteering: the application fee paid to GOAT and the project fee paid directly to the NGO after they accept your application.
Included: Airport pick-up (unless otherwise stated) • Location orientation • Shared accommodations in local hotels (usually not more than 3 per room) • 3 meals per day • Project training • Project donation • 24/7 emergency phone & in-country support
NOT Included: Flights • Visas • Vaccinations • Travel insurance • Personal expenses • Bank/wire transfer fees
For custom lengths of stay not listed, please contact us for pricing.
GOAT Volunteers occasionally offers discounted application fees, so follow us on social media to find out when these savings are available!
Volunteers participating in all projects in Sri Lanka have the opportunity to take advantage of island life and earn an additional PADI Open Water Diver certification. The course can be taken as a stand alone program or added to the week before or after a volunteering project. Click the button below for more information.
Special Considerations | Volunteering with Sea Turtles in Sri Lanka
For special considerations regarding projects in Sri Lanka, please visit the Sri Lanka page.
A Volunteer’s Perspective *Featured Project*
I had the chance to spend two weeks working with the sea turtle project team in July 2018. I easily could have spent much more time on this incredible project, but scheduling didn’t permit it at this time.
I have always been an animal lover and finally getting the chance to work with sea turtles was long overdue. The two brothers that run the project truly care about these animals and it shows in everything that they do at the rescue and conservation center. The facility was originally opened by their father 30+ years ago, and they recently reopened it after the civil war and tsunami that ravaged Sri Lanka. Unfortunately, I came during the off-season, so I only got to experience baby turtles hatching and being released on two occasions. But, that didn’t put a damper what was an absolutely wonderful experience.
As I want all potential volunteers to have an unfiltered, honest impression of volunteering on projects with our NGO partner, I’m sharing some highlights, challenges, surprises, and frustrations I experienced during my time in Sri Lanka:
Highlight: Getting a chance to release baby turtles into the sea, hopefully giving them a better chance at survival. The two guys that run the project are fantastic hosts and make your time volunteering enjoyable and educational. It doesn’t hurt that they’re right on the beach and have gorgeous natural scenery right behind the center.
Challenge: Preparing the fish for the turtles was a challenge. The tiny, sharp bones constantly poked my fingers while “de-heading” the fish. It’s not pretty, but the turtles gotta eat!
Surprise: I had no idea that turtles liked to have their shells scratched! They have nerve endings in their shells and in the wild they scratch themselves; so they wiggle and “dance” when you scratch them…it’s adorable! Also, I was incredibly surprised (and happy) to hear that all but one of the turtles at the center when I was there would be released into the wild. Two were missing front flippers, but are able to be released. Only the one olive ridley who is unbalanced & cannot dive will live out her days at the center.
Frustration: I didn’t have any frustrations associated with the project. However, the buses in Sri Lanka are insane. The bus drivers act as if they are in a NASCAR race; it’s total mayhem. That, and they use their horns more than they breathe. Don’t expect a quiet, comfortable ride in Sri Lanka. But, at least they’re absurdly cheap!