We may encounter poor road conditions and landslides. Only qualified drivers will transport volunteers in project vehicles; we ensure project vehicles are well maintained. Seat belts must be worn at all times. Volunteers are not permitted to drive.
You’ll likely traverse uneven terrain and hike uphill in humid tropical conditions; there is a risk of sprains, strains, or breaks due to falling or tripping. You should never walk ahead of the local guide and should follow the guide’s instructions. Wear comfortable, closed-toed shoes when walking. At night, carry a personal headlamp or flashlight.
Poisonous snakes live in the area, but we have never had a snakebite incident. You’ll likely encounter many insects; wear long-sleeved shirts and long pants and apply insect repellent frequently to avoid bites. Those with insect allergies should bring the proper emergency treatment and inform staff of the problem and the location of the treatment.
Working with Sharks
Working with sharks alongside a boat is inherently dangerous. All sharks we work with are hooked in the mouth and are secured by their tails prior to the workup. Teams will be heavily supervised during this activity and will not touch sharks forward of their dorsal fins. Staff will train you to identify dangerous species and to avoid touching any organisms.
Working at Night
Conducting the predatory fish surveys may involve working after dark, because that is when the animals are active. These surveys are conducted from the boat, very close to the accommodations—about 20 meters away. The boat is equipped with 2-way VHF radios and lights. Lights will be used only in the event of an emergency. Minimal light is required so the animals are not disturbed. The surveys are conducted in an area free of rocks and other collision hazards. It is recommended that you bring a headlamp with an infrared light.
Dehydration, heat exhaustion, sunburn, and other heat-related illnesses can occur, but you can protect yourself by drinking sufficient water, wearing high-SPF sunscreen, and wearing appropriate clothing. Dehydration from sweating can be a problem; please bring your own water bottles that you can easily carry and refill them with electrolyte packets. Because of the high humidity, people who use a hearing aid device may find it doesn’t work properly. Consider purchasing a hearing aid dehumidifier.
Tripping over ropes on the boat or injury from equipment is possible. You will receive a full safety briefing on arrival; please follow all staff instructions. A first aid kit will be available on the boat.
Working on a Boat
There is a risk of sprains, strains, or breaks from stepping in and out of the boat, or during adverse sea conditions. We will use a ladder when entering and exiting the boat. Hazards may result from falling overboard. Some volunteers may get seasick; please bring seasickness medication as a precaution. Boarding and stepping out of an inflatable craft and/or sitting onboard when the sea is choppy may cause problems for those with mobility or spinal conditions. These volunteers should carefully consider participation on the project. In addition, volunteers with back, knee, and hip problems, or pregnant women, may face difficulties or discomfort not only when they step on board and leave the boat, but also during navigation under choppy sea conditions. Life jackets and appropriate footwear must be worn at all times while on deck and the vessel is underway.
Avoid areas designated as off limits by project staff.
Swimming may be possible during recreational time, as long as volunteers are competent swimmers and project staff has vetted the location. You may only swim in known, safe environments, close to the boat while it is at anchor, and under the supervision of project staff. Do not swim alone.
Distance from Medical Care
It may take an hour or more to arrange transport and reach the hospital. If you have a chronic condition which could require immediate medical care (e.g., heart conditions, kidney problems, severe asthma, etc.), or if you are pregnant, please discuss your participation on this expedition with your physician.
Diseases found in Costa Rica may include malaria, dengue fever, Zika, tuberculosis, filariasis, leishmaniasis, onchocerciasis, trypanosomiasis, schistosomiasis, strongyloidiasis, hepatitis, leptospirosis, chikungunya, and typhoid. Please see the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (cdc.gov) or the World Health Organization (who.int) websites for more information on these conditions and how to avoid them. You can decrease your risk of most diseases above by avoiding mosquito bites, practicing good hygiene, and drinking only bottled or filtered water when appropriate. If you feel ill once you return from your trip, make sure you inform your doctor that you have recently returned from a tropical region. A note on vaccinations and treatment: Malaria is not present at the project area.