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Conservation of sea turtles in El Salvador


This mission takes place in Bahia Jiquilisco, on the Pacific coast in southeastern El Salvador, on one of the largest nesting grounds of the hawksbill turtle. You will contribute to daily patrols on the beach in search of turtles nesting in team and supervised by a member of the project. This project is in close relationship with members of the local community.

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This mission is dedicated to the conservation of the hawksbill turtle, Eretmochelys imbricata, endangered species. This species faces several threats, like most marine turtles: drift nets, ingestion of plastic bags (like jellyfish), oil spills, and especially the destruction of nesting sites and intensive egg collection for consumption. The hawksbill turtle is also exploited for its shell whose scales are used in crafts.

For all these reasons, until 2007 hawksbill turtle was considered by scientists to be extinct in the Pacific Region. It is thanks to the project that the existence of nesting sites was revealed. They located within estuaries, turtles take refuge by joining mangroves, to lay their eggs. Almost 90% of Pacific East turtle nesting takes place in one of the two project research sites, El Salvador and Nicaragua. Every season more than 400 turtles emerge from the sea to lay eggs on the beaches of these two sites!

The program started in 2008. The latter focuses on monitoring and protection of hawksbill nesting. The site of Bahia Jiquilisco El Salvador is one of the most important nesting sites in the area, which is why it was chosen for the project, and one located in Estero Padre Ramos Nature Reserve in Nicaragua. The study site is one of the few nesting areas for hawksbill where every year hundreds of people lay their eggs back.

The conservation program is based on close community input and local non-profit organizations. Pressures on hawksbills are mainly due to man. Working alongside people from exploiting or indirectly past and generating socio-economic alternatives, the project allows turtles exploiters to become the "saviors", while creating economic income for the families involved.

Since 2008, the program has protected more than 1000 nests, has allowed the emergence of over 120 000 turtles equipped with satellite transmitters 3 turtles, and allowed more than 112 local families to benefit.

The eco-volunteers are essential to the success of this program, with their help field conservation effort remains constant, their financial participation benefits the project and the community. As qu'écovolontaire you will also participate in the emergence of making local and global awareness of the need to protect hawksbill turtles and the marine environment in general. In addition to being committed to the conservation of sea turtles, the volunteers will have the opportunity to get involved in other local social and ecological projects.

Location / Habitat

The Reserve of the Biosphere Jiquilisco Bay is south-east of El Salvador. Volunteers stay in the municipality of La Pirraya (Department Usulatan), about 3 hours from San Salvador.


Located on the Pacific coast, southeast of Salvador, in the department of Usulutan, Jiquilisco Bay is the largest estuary in the country. This estuary is a series of mangroves and canals, still wild and preserved. This area was declared a RAMSAR wetland in October 2005 and UNESCO Biosphere Reserve in 2007. These 637 50 on km² km of coast offer one of the most beautiful natural landscapes of the country, including an abundance of birds. It is also one of the most important nesting site for hawksbill turtles, with approximately 40 to 45% of Pacific East pundits.

El Salvador has a warm subtropical climate with two main seasons: the dry season (verano), between November and April, and the wet season (invierno) from May to October. The coastal areas are particularly hot, the interior is in turn more temperate. Seasonal rains occur mostly at night, the period most propitious tourisitique is the dry season.

For more information on local weather conditions


Hawksbill is the only species of turtle to display a bright and colored keratinous shell, consisting of overlapping scales (nested). Individuals have a sharp beak and a narrow head, adapted to search for food, usually on hard substrate.

This species is known to live in shallow areas, with a hard substrate. Juveniles are omnivores and feed on a wide variety of prey, while adults feed almost exclusively sponges. In the Pacific-East, adult hawksbill turtles have been observed feeding on the substrate of mangroves, which implements a different scenario for diet and preferred habitat of this species. Studies will be needed to better understand the lifestyle of the hawksbill turtle in the region.

The hawksbill turtles are usually found at the global level, in tropical and subtropical areas. Juveniles are typically more sedentary and adults are known to perform migrations of several hundred kilometers. But in general this species is much less than other migratory species of sea turtles.

Hawksbills in the region are known to choose hidden nesting sites, often within estuaries, mangroves where they emerge to lay eggs on the beaches. These rich waters of mangroves are also favorable for their food. This lifestyle specific to Pacific hawksbill East is certainly the reason why these have not been identified for decades, but also pose some problems for the implementation of appropriate conservation measures and specific.

Involvement ecovolunteer

No experience is required to participate. Volunteers are involved in teamwork around 8 hours, day and night, and have a minimum of one day off per week.

The main tasks that volunteers are asked to participate are: night patrols (foot) in search of turtles and nesting on beaches, management of nesting and hatching, morning patrol motor boat along the coast to quantify nesting in the area, and community activities (education, cleaning, etc ...)

Volunteers work in teams with project members and / or other eco-volunteers.

Activities include for example:

  • Patrols on the beaches to measure and mark the punters
  • Egg collection and removal in incubators
  • Monitoring of outbreaks: burying eggs, taking temperature, relaxation of babies hatched, and monitored nests
  • Morning patrol boat in the estuary to spot nesting turtles that might have been forgotten during night patrols
  • Community Work (optional): English classes, environmental education, arts programs, etc ...
  • Housekeeping: cleaning, dishes, ...
  • Maintenance of the incubator and monitoring equipment


The project does not accept trainees.

Requirements and constraints

To participate in this mission:

  • No special experience is required
  • Being physically fit and healthy
  • Having 18 years minimum
  • Being able to live in an isolated area and basic living conditions
  • Ability to speak English
  • Ability to speak Spanish is a plus but not required

Before you register:

  • It is important to take detailed documentation for download (see right of this text).
  • You will need to return the medical fitness form (attached to the detailed documentation) completed and signed by you and your attending physician.
  • You must have taken out comprehensive travel insurance (liability, accident / repatriation, cancellation ...)

Language (s) used (s)

English: The minimum required level of English is A1 : view details you self-evaluate.

Note that few people speak English there and that knowing Spanish is a plus for this project.

Conditions for minors

Minors are not accepted


Example of a mission 15 days:

1 Day: arrival on site, welcome and explanation of the work

Day 2 to 13: Daily conservation activities (1 free day)

14 day: debriefing and departure


You stay in a house, Located in the village of La Pirraya, a small fishing village of San Sebastian of the island in the Bay of Jiquilico. The project rents the house to a local fishing cooperative, allowing both to host volunteers and provide income for community members.

Accommodation is basic. The rooms are shared between 2 or 3 maximum ecovolunteers. A private room can be requested. There is electricity and running water, but the living conditions are simple and eco-volunteers need to be prepared. The rooms are rustic dormitories with a fan and a small closet. The bathroom and toilets are shared, and there is no hot water.

Volunteers participating in the household, one day a week is devoted to clean rooms and common areas.

The mobile phone is the best means of communication. The project has internet but sporadically and randomly. One day a week a group went to the nearest major town to shop, volunteers can on this occasion to consult Internet.

Depending on the beach where you will perform your patrols, it takes between 5 and 30-minute walk to get there. Bicycles are sometimes available. The boat motor can be used to reach the most remote locations, but it is expected to walk most of the time.

The preparation of lunch and evening meal is provided by a local cook. Meals typically consist of rice, beans, plantains, fish, chicken, and fresh juices. The eco-volunteers prepare their own breakfasts. The project can offer meals suitable for vegetarians and vegans, and some allergies. However, it will so inform before arrival.


The project can accommodate up to 15 ecovolunteers both


2017 mission costs

Individuals and Eco-Solidarity leave* : Donation amount "mission"

  • 1 week to participate: 339 € (excluding tax deduction.)
  • 2 weeks of participation: 636 € (excluding tax deduction.)
  • 3 weeks of participation: 908 € (excluding tax deduction.)
  • 4 weeks of participation: 1150 € (excluding tax deduction.)
  • For additional week: 242 € (excluding tax deduction.)
  • Supplement for a single room: € 12 per day (excluding tax deduction.)
Transfer from / to the airport (optional) : € 408 (non-deductible)
* Eco-solidary leave allows employees to leave during their holidays with the financial support of their employer. know more

Students and job seekers * : Donation amount "mission"

  • 1 week to participate: 266 € (excluding tax deduction.)
  • 2 weeks of participation: 499 € (excluding tax deduction.)
  • 3 weeks of participation: 714 € (excluding tax deduction.)
  • 4 weeks of participation: 904 € (excluding tax deduction.)
  • For additional week: 190 € (excluding tax deduction.)
  • Supplement for a single room: € 10 per day (excluding tax deduction.)
Transfer from / to the airport (optional) : € 408 (non-deductible)
* The reduction of travel expenses will be applied only if the receipt of proof.

tax deduction : For individuals, the participation entitles you to a a tax deduction of 66%. Thus for a donation of € 339 this project will actually cost you only € 115.

For businesses, employees participation entitles you to a tax deduction of 60%. Thus for a donation of € 339 this project will actually cost you only € 136.

Mission costs include:

  • the food
  • accommodation
  • coaching and training

Mission costs do not include:

  • your trip to El Salvador
  • transfer service to the project (optional)
  • membership in the Association of € 50 (required)
  • travel insurance (required)

2017 dates

The eco-volunteers are welcome 16 31 from April to October. Date of Participation is free and subject to approval of the project.
The project accepts investments of a minimum of 1 week and maximum of 5 months.

The project accepts entries a week for eco-volunteers who make a longer stay in El Salvador. However, it is strongly recommended that a mission of 2 weeks minimum so as to test the project as a whole and also by eco-responsibility with respect to greenhouse gas emissions.

Travel Information

The Biosphere Reserve of Bahia Jiquilisco is located about 100 km from San Salvador. The journey from San Salvador to the project lasts about 4 hours. The project recommends to ecovolunteers to spend a first night in San Salvador before making the trip, so they can be certain to arrive on the first day of their mission.

It is possible to travel from San Salvador in Bahia Jiquilisco in several ways, depending on your needs, budget and constraints. You can :

  • Take public transportation (approx $ 11. - duration 5 hours). This option is not very safe and not recommended by the project.
  • Take a taxi to San Salvador project (about $ 100 go -. 4 hours duration)
  • The project offers a transfer service, the simplest and safest solution. This service is optional and includes: a transfer from the airport to your hotel in town, the transfer of the hotel to the project (4 hours), and the day you leave your project transfer up at a hotel in Managua and the hotel next to the airport. The project will book your hotel before you arrive. You can request this service when you register to the mission with Cybelle Planet. The cost of this transfer includes booking the hotel, the car rental, fuel costs, and the driver's salary. Note that the hotel the first and last day is your responsibility.

Travel arrangements

You must organize your own trip to the project: transport, visa, vaccinations if necessary, ....

You will find on our website information concerning visas.

Cybelle Planet can arrange for you to book your airline ticketsThis service is optional.

Conditions of participation

The general conditions of participation in eco-volunteering mission from Cybelle Planet are available online.

Commitment ecovolunteer

Before committing yourself as a Volunteer, you must have read and accepted the charter of ecovolunteers.


In addition to the insurance included in your membership, you must take out cancellation insurance, loss or damage to luggage, and flight delay. Cybelle Planète will offer you insurance during your pre-registration or you can subscribe one by yourself. A certificate of insurance will be required before departure. To learn more about insurance

ethical commitments Cybelle Planète

The Cybelle Planet associationcommitted to the ecovolunteering charter. We have always chosen sharing, equity and solidarity for all our actions.

Tax deduction

Participation in our eco-volunteering mission is reserved for our "support" members.

Ecovolunteers pay Cybelle Planète a Biodiversity Donation in addition to their commitment in the field.

Only the Biodiversity Gift and membership entitles you to a tax deduction (For companies or persons subject to corporation tax or income tax in France).

Medical fitness form

Your registration can not be validated unless we have received your medical fitness form completed and signed by you and your attending physician.

In order to avoid possible difficulties, we ask you to describe to us, as honestly as possible, your physical and emotional state.
Regardless of the medical situation, all projects are designed to accept as many participants as possible. For this reason, they remain attentive and are very understanding of the various health problems a candidate may have. All solutions are considered to enable the candidate to participate in the project, regardless of his or her state of health, and to the extent possible.
The consequences of misleading and / or omitted medical declarations can be very restrictive for the entire team involved in the mission, and in some cases dangerous (missions on the high seas, in very isolated sites, etc.). So, Any false declaration, omission or false information may be sanctioned by the immediate and definitive exclusion of the participant At its own expense and upon the exclusive and unilateral decision of the project.

Download the form for a francophone mission

Download the form for an English speaking mission


An ECOVOLONTAIRE T-shirt is offered for any registration to an ecovolunteer mission.

Note that no resumption or exchange is possible, we invite you to consult the description and the size guide .

Testimonials for this mission ecovolunteers