Please read the following information carefully before leaving for your expedition.

 

 

COVID-19 Safety

You are strongly encouraged to test for COVID-19 before traveling to your expedition, particularly if you are experiencing symptoms. Do not travel if you have tested positive, and call Earthwatch right away for the next steps. Please see earthwatch.org/covid-19 for more information.

 

 

The Research

Costa Rica’s Osa Peninsula, one of Central America's most biodiverse regions, faces significant environmental threats compromising its unique ecosystems. Deforestation, habitat degradation, and the resultant loss of biodiversity stand as critical challenges in this vibrant area. Climate change exacerbates the urgency for effective conservation solutions amidst growing threats. This research is pivotal in enhancing ecosystem services, such as carbon sequestration, erosion minimization, water purification, and biodiversity preservation. Deforestation's contribution of roughly 15% to global carbon emissions highlights the urgent need for forest restoration in climate change mitigation (van der Werf et al., 2009). 

The study focuses on the Osa Peninsula, a crucial area for maintaining biodiversity connectivity within the protected areas in the Osa Peninsula and the Amistosa Biological Corridor, which covers the whole South Pacific of Costa Rica. This research aims to evaluate effective approaches to foster ecosystem recovery that support healthy populations of wildlife species and provide ecosystem services needed by local communities. These efforts support a long-term goal of replicating these successes across other regions in Costa Rica. Earthwatch participants play a pivotal role in this endeavor, collecting essential data on wildlife recovery and the effectiveness of various restoration techniques. 

 

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Research Aims

The research aims to assess different tree-planting strategies to accelerate the characteristics that make mature tropical forests biologically diverse. This “experiment” will compare the presence of wildlife species in reforested plots with different planting “treatments” to each other and primary rainforest habitats. This information can inform scientists leading other reforestation efforts and provide insights about species occupation at different restoration stages. Additionally, scientists seek to: 

  1. Gather long-term data on wildlife recovery in actively restored tropical rainforests to guide management strategies and inform government agencies.  
  2. Identify efficient techniques to transition from degraded pasture lands to secondary forests, accelerating biodiversity recovery and comparing with primary forest plots.  
  3. Restore soil quality and hydrological stability in tropical landscapes by comparing ecological indicators between restored and primary forests.  

 

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How You Will Help

With the volunteers' help, Osa Conservation can collect long-term data for their restoration plot experiment, effectively expanding the capacity of these data collection efforts. This data will then guide the decision-making and implementation of forest connectivity recovery measures in the Amistosa region. 

Osa Conservation’s mission includes enhancing scientific understanding and providing education and training at national and international levels. Working with Earthwatch volunteers is at the core of Osa Conservation’s efforts to increase conservation impact, as their support helps expand the capacity for monitoring and raising awareness about the importance of protecting biodiversity and combating climate change.

Participation in this research expedition provides the opportunity to contribute to research and restoration efforts that can be replicated across Costa Rica and beyond. 

Guided by scientists, participants will support hands-on restoration and data collection activities, such as: 

  • February and April teams only: Investigating biodiversity by setting up and maintaining small mammal live traps in the morning.
  • August and October teams only: Surveying amphibian populations at night to monitor their recovery over time in restored plots and compare to old-growth forest plots. 
  • All teams may have the opportunity to participate in the following:
    • Monitoring wildlife and their interactions by installing camera traps and reviewing footage to understand restoration's impact on biodiversity better.  
    • Joining early morning bird monitoring surveys with a specialist, documenting bird diversity in restored and old-growth forest plots. 
    • Inputting collected data into databases and actively participating in creating and updating catalogs for different taxa. 
    • Contributing to forest structure surveys, measuring vegetation at different structural levels from canopy to soil.   
    • Collecting soil samples and recording temperature and humidity at different weather monitoring stations.   

Through our partner, Osa Conservation, Earthwatch participants may have the opportunity to learn about sustainable production on its local regenerative farm.

 

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Life in the Field

Participants will live the life of an environmental scientist at the stunning Osa Conservation Campus. Once settled in, the expedition begins with an introduction to the research and training, as participants will be involved in every step of the data collection and processing. You will learn how to install camera traps, safely catch and release amphibians, identify local birds, and check small mammal live traps.

Participants will be immersed not only in a unique geographical setting but also in an outstanding scientific community of local and international conservationists, biologists, media specialists, educators, and community outreach leaders. Costa Ricans comprise over half of the Osa Conservation staff, many of whom grew up on the peninsula and serve as a wealth of knowledge on the region’s species. Renowned tropical ecologist and National Geographic Explorer Dr. Andrew Whitworth leads Osa Conservation. Earthwatch participants will work alongside a team of Osa Conservation Scientists to build the skills and collect information needed to solve real-world conservation issues.

Osa Conservation has many ongoing programs at the field station, including very exciting projects with the capacity to engage with Earthwatch participants. Participants may have the opportunity to collaborate in, or at least visit, the station’s regenerative farm to learn about sustainable production. Participants who join 2-week teams will also have the optional opportunity to support Osa Conservation’s local sea turtle program on their recreational day. 

ITINERARY

Week 1 (“A” Team)

  • Day 1: Rendezvous, introductions, travel to the field station
  • Days 2–6: Fieldwork days
  • Day 7: “A” team volunteers depart the project.

Week 2 (“B” Team)

  • Day 7: Rendezvous, introductions, travel to field station (for "b" team volunteers)
  • Days 8–12: Fieldwork days
  • Day 13: The team departs.
DAILY ACTIVITIES

Weather and research needs can lead to changes in the daily schedule. We appreciate your cooperation and understanding. Generally, the dry season research is more early morning-focused, and the August and October research is more evening-focused. For August and October teams, activities fluctuate based on the research focus of the day, with some days seeing the majority of activity in the morning and others in the evening. 

Dry Season teams (February & April):

  • Day 1 or 7: Arrive at the field station, introductions, and dinner.
  • Day 2 or 8: Travel to the field site, orientation walk, training on research tasks and methodologies to collect data.
  • Days 3-5 & 9-11: 
    • 5:00 a.m. Morning field work( Sherman traps, bird counts, bat box and camera trap checks)
    • 7:30 a.m.: Breakfast
    • 8:30 a.m.: Fieldwork (Sherman traps, bird counts, bat box, and camera trap checks)
    • Noon: Lunch
    • 1:00 p.m.: Downtime
    • 2:00 p.m.: Fieldwork (tree monitoring, Sherman traps) & data entry/processing data
    • 5:00 p.m.: Downtime
    • 6:00 p.m.: Dinner
    • 7:00 p.m.: Planning, presentations, discussion
    • 8:00 p.m.: Recreational time 
  • Day 6 & 12: Fieldwork
    • 5:00 a.m.: Morning field work (Sherman traps, bird counts, bat box, and camera trap checks)
    • 7:30 a.m.: Breakfast
    • 8:30 a.m.: Fieldwork (Sherman traps, bird counts, bat box, and camera trap checks)
    • Noon: Lunch
    • 1:00 p.m.: Downtime
    • 2:00 p.m.: Fieldwork (tree monitoring, Sherman traps) & data entry/processing data
    • 5:00 p.m.: Downtime
    • 6:00 p.m.: Dinner
    • 7:00 p.m.: Pack for their departure on Day 7 or 13.
  • Day 7 & 13: Depart for the airport at 7:30 a.m. (Day 7 is a recreational day for those signed up for both week A and week B; possible recreational activities below)

Wet Season teams (August & October):

  • Day 1 or 7: Arrive at the field station, introductions, and dinner.
  • Day 2 or 8: Travel to the field site, orientation walk, training on research tasks and methodologies to collect data.
  • Days 3-5 & 9-11: 
    • 5:00 a.m.: Occasional early morning fieldwork (bird counts, bat box and camera trap checks, tree monitoring)
    • 7:30 a.m.: Breakfast
    • 8:30 a.m.: Fieldwork (bird counts, bat box and camera trap checks, tree monitoring)
    • Noon: Lunch
    • 1:00 p.m.: Downtime
    • 2:00 p.m.: Fieldwork (tree monitoring) & data entry/processing data
    • 5:00 p.m.: Downtime
    • 6:00 p.m.: Dinner
    • 7:00-9:30 p.m.: Occasional evening fieldwork (amphibian monitoring)
    • 9:30-10:30 p.m.: Amphibian identification and measurement collection
    • 10:30 p.m.: Rest
  • Day 6 & 12: Fieldwork
    • 5:00 a.m.: Morning fieldwork (bird counts, bat box and camera trap checks, tree monitoring)
    • 7:30 a.m.: Breakfast
    • 8:30 a.m.: Fieldwork (bird counts, bat box and camera trap checks, tree monitoring)
    • Noon: Lunch
    • 1:00 p.m.: Downtime
    • 2:00 p.m.: Fieldwork (tree monitoring) & data entry/processing data
    • 5:00 p.m.: Downtime
    • 6:00 p.m.: Dinner
    • 7:00 p.m.: Pack for their departure on Day 7 or 13.
  • Day 7 & 13: Depart for the airport at 78:30 a.m. (Day 7 is a recreational day for those signed up for both week A and week B; possible recreational activities are below)

Optional Recreational Time Activities (all teams):

  • Explore Osa’s arboretum trails: The campus boasts over 28 km of maintained trail system and a sprawling arboretum of over 301 rare, endangered, and endemic tree species.
  • Visit and learn about Osa Conservation´s regenerative farm 
  • Enjoy a beautiful sunset at the nearby beach
  • Play a game of soccer (football) or volleyball; equipment available to borrow  
  • Lend a helping hand to the local sea turtle program (2-week teams only)

 


Money Matters

LOCAL CURRENCY

Costa Rican Colón

PERSONAL FUNDS

It is recommended that you convert the equivalent of 100–200 USD to Colones before you arrive for personal expenditures. If you plan to stay in Puerto Jiménez for extra days, you may need a bit more. Tipping is not required in Costa Rica; where it is done, it is often included in the bill (for example, if you go to a restaurant). Several staff members will see to your food, housing, and transportation needs at the Osa Conservation Campus. At the end of the experience, you may wish to leave a gratuity for these individuals, but it is not required. 

Visa and Mastercard are commonly accepted in Puerto Jiménez and other tourist destinations in Costa Rica. At the Osa Conservation Campus, credit and debit cards, as well as cash (Colones and USD dollars), are accepted. Osa Conservation has a small variety of items for purchase, including T-shirts, reusable water bottles, stuffed animals, and occasionally locally-made ice cream.

 

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Accommodations and Food

* Please note that not every expedition has couples’ or singles' accommodations available. Please call or email Earthwatch to check availability before reserving your space(s) on the team.

The Osa Conservation Campus is a regional hub for ecological research and conservation efforts. The campus is uniquely positioned to inspire and equip volunteer scientists. Here, state-of-the-art facilities, cutting-edge research, extraordinary landscapes, and conservation technology fuse to create a world-class field site. Nestled in the heart of the Osa Peninsula, the surrounding geographic and biological uniqueness makes this an exceptional place to conduct research and educational activities. The peninsula is a global biodiversity hotspot, with over 400 species of birds, 140 mammals, 115 amphibians, 500 trees, and 6,000 insects, and exceptionally high levels of endemism and rarity.

During breakfast, volunteer scientists may see troops of endangered Spider monkeys, Red-capped manakins snacking on fruits, and Collared peccaries chowing on roots in the understory surrounding visitor cabins, as well as river otters on afternoon dips in the pristine Piro River. (Swimming is not permitted on school group teams with participants under the age of 18.)

English and Spanish are widely spoken and understood at this bilingual campus. Diversity and inclusion are central to the Osa Conservation team. The campus welcomes the unique contributions that all bring regarding nation of origin, education, opinions, culture, ethnicity, race, sex, gender identity and expression, sexual orientation, age, religion, languages spoken, and more. 

FACILITY AMENITIES

A refrigerator and freezer are available for those who need to store medications. However, this storage is not available for personal food and beverages.  

There is an outdoor self-wash laundry area that participants can use. If you plan to wash clothes during the expedition, bring your own biodegradable laundry soap. Quick-dry clothing is also encouraged, as it can take a while to dry in the humid climate. 

SLEEPING

You’ll fall asleep each night to the sounds of the rainforest teeming with life outside your window, from the buzzing insects to the bellowing call of the howler monkey (earplugs recommended for lighter sleepers). 

Each room has four beds and a deck with hammocks to stretch out and relax after a long day of research activities. Sheets, pillows, pillowcases, and towels are provided. Single and couple room requests are not guaranteed and will depend on the final team makeup and room availability. Please inform Earthwatch of a special rooming request in advance. Whenever possible, requests will be accommodated on a first-come, first-served basis. Single-gender* rooms are assigned with two to four volunteers per room

* Earthwatch will respectfully and without judgment honor each person’s assertion of gender identity. For both teen and adult teams, where logistics dictate single-sex accommodations or other facilities, participant placements will be made in accordance with the gender identity the participant specified on their Earthwatch Participant form and/or preferences indicated in discussions with Earthwatch.

BATHROOMS

Bathrooms are connected to accommodations, just across the hall from the rooms. Flush toilets are available and shared (not separated by gender). Toilet paper and soap are provided. Hot water is not available in bathrooms or showers.

ELECTRICITY

Solar panels and a water turbine produce electricity for the campus, plus storage capacity, allowing staff and visitors to use electricity 24 hours a day. Occasionally, electricity can be more limited due to weather conditions during the rainy season. However, it is not a frequent issue. Please be cautious to minimize your consumption; for example, always turn off the lights and fans when you are the last to leave a room.

PERSONAL COMMUNICATIONS

High-speed wireless internet is available in public areas such as the pavilion where meals are eaten, the scientific laboratory, and the classroom. Wi-Fi is not available in participants' rooms. However, Kolbi is the national mobile phone company that works at the campus, providing mobile phone reception almost everywhere on campus (not on adjacent trails). Certain field site locations will not have phone signals. Field staff will have two-way radios at these sites for emergency communications.  

Please note: Personal communication with outsiders is not always possible while participating in an expedition. Earthwatch encourages volunteers to minimize outgoing calls and immerse themselves in the experience; likewise, family and friends should restrict calls to urgent messages only.

DISTANCE TO THE FIELD SITE

The distance from the accommodation to the fieldwork sites is 0.5 to 3 km (most of them 3 km/1.8 Miles). Volunteers and the team will hike by dirt road and/or trail to get to the sites. Depending on the fieldwork site, hiking time will take 20 minutes to over an hour. 

FOOD AND WATER

The Osa Conservation Campus has a dedicated team of cooks to prepare and serve three daily meals. The meals are served at the following times each day:

  • Breakfast: 7:00 a.m.
  • Lunch: 12:00 p.m.
  • Dinner: 6:00 p.m.

Breakfasts may occasionally be eaten in the field. Meals are typically served with fresh juice, and a coffee and tea station provides access to hot beverages throughout the day. Filtered potable water is available at all the facilities and should be used for consumption and brushing teeth.

Participants are expected to clean up their place setting after each meal. Uneaten food is collected for composting and used on the regenerative Osa Verde Farm. A large commercial sink is available for washing plates, bowls, cups, and flatware. Sponges and soap are provided for washing.

TYPICAL MEALS

The following are examples of foods you may find at the field station. Variety depends on availability. We appreciate your flexibility. 

The Osa Conservation Campus cooking team is committed to providing a variety of meals consisting of both Costa Rican and international cuisines. They prioritize using locally sourced ingredients and fresh fruit and vegetables from the regenerative Osa Verde Farm when available. Meals are prepared with nutritious and balanced foods to provide energy for long days working in the field. Possible options you may have for meals include:

  • Breakfast: pancakes, french toast, gallo pinto (rice and beans, cheese, plantains), fresh fruits such as melon, papaya, banana, mangos, and more.
  • Lunch: chicken, pork, fish, various vegetables, rice, beans, potatoes, pasta, salad.
  • Dinner: chicken, pork, fish, various vegetables, rice, beans, potatoes, pasta, salad.
  • Beverages: juice, water, coffee, and tea.
  • Snacks: fruits, cookies, and bread may occasionally be available but are not guaranteed.  

Note: If you like to have snacks between meals, you’re encouraged to bring your own. Once at the campus, you will not have access to stores to purchase additional snacks, and there is no food or drink available for purchase on campus.

SPECIAL DIETARY REQUIREMENTS

Please alert Earthwatch to any special dietary requirements (e.g., diabetes, lactose intolerance, celiac disease, nut, other food allergies, vegetarian or vegan diets) as soon as possible and note them in the space on your volunteer forms.

Dietary restrictions are considered when preparing meals if they are communicated to the staff with sufficient notice before your arrival. Vegetarian, vegan, lactose-free, gluten-free, and nut-free allergies can all be accommodated. A strict Kosher diet cannot be accommodated in this project.

POLICIES 

Hiking in the field: 

  • To prevent snake incidents:
    • During fieldwork and hiking around campus trails, participants must wear rubber boots;
    • During the night, participants must always also use a headlamp to walk around; 3) even if participants have experience, do not touch any snakes. 

Swimming: 

  • The field site is on the Osa Peninsula, near the Pacific Ocean, where extremely dangerous rip tides have led to drowning, even in cases where people were in the water only up to their knees. Swimming in the ocean near the campus property is forbidden (even at knee level). 
  • The accommodations are along the Piro River. During downtime, there will be opportunities to swim in the river. Please note that no lifeguard is on duty, so volunteers swim at their own risk. Always notify a staff member when you will be swimming, and never swim alone, at night, or after consuming alcohol. Participants under the age of 18 are not permitted to swim during Earthwatch expeditions since there is no certified lifeguard on site.

 

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Project Conditions

The following information is as accurate as possible, but please remember that conditions may change. 

The variety of ecosystems and unique fauna and flora make the Osa Peninsula a natural wonder and paradise begging to be enjoyed. Within a single location, the Osa Conservation Campus allows one to explore diverse ecosystems, including mature and secondary lowland and premontane forests, coastal and marine ecosystems, mangroves, lagoons, and rivers. 

Temperatures on the Osa Peninsula are pleasant but humid year-round. The sunniest and warmest months are from January through April, with temperatures dropping slightly with the onset of the rains in May. October and November mark the height of the wet season on the Osa; during this period, it is possible to get more than one meter of rain in a month!

  • Average Temperature: 26°C/79°F
  • Precipitation: 5000–6000 mm
  • Humidity: 90%
  • Dry Season: December-May (it occasionally rains towards April–May but not much)
  • Wet Season: June–November (rains most days, generally in the late afternoon and evening)

Please note: Although temperatures do not seem very high, during the dry season, due to the high humidity, they can feel like >40°C/104°F.

GENERAL CONDITIONS

Please visit wunderground.com and search your project location for weather and region-specific information.

 

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Essential Eligibility Requirements

All participants must be able to:

  • Most days, walk up to 10 miles a day over plain, rocky, or forested terrain. Although, on occasion, it could be steep and uneven terrain in the forest, but shorter distances (around 5 miles).   
  • Bend down and kneel on the ground for extended periods of time to set traps, collect samples, and record data in the field.
  • Enjoy being outdoors all day in all types of weather, including rain, heat, and extreme humidity, in the potential presence of insects, snakes, and other wild animals. Fieldwork WILL continue in rainy conditions, except for lightning storms. 
  • Watch footing while moving through dense, tangled vegetation in rubber boots. 
  • For teams participating in evening research activities (Aug & Nov teams): Watch footing after dark with minimal lighting while moving through dense, tangled vegetation in rubber boots. 
  • Carry up to 10 lbs. of supplies into the field daily, including personal daily supplies such as food, water, and some field equipment. 
  • Be comfortable in vehicles moving along steep, winding, and bumpy roads for up to an hour. The drive between the Puerto Jimenez airport and the accommodations is the longest and can induce motion sickness for susceptible people. 
  • Be comfortable living and working in an area where spiders, snakes, and insects are prevalent. 
  • Be comfortable either taking a Cessna aircraft to the remote expedition location on the Osa Peninsula or driving up to a 6–8-hour distance, including occasional winding bumpy roads, from San Jose, Costa Rica.
  • (2-week teams only, optional activity) To participate in optional sea turtle research activities during recreation time on Day 7: walk 1 mile (1.6 km) on hilly trails through the rainforest to reach nesting beaches and then walk 1.5 miles (2.2 km) in wet and dry sand. This may be especially difficult for those with knee problems. 
  • Be comfortable in isolated rural field stations with basic living conditions and limited communication access.
  • Follow verbal and/or visual instructions independently or with the assistance of a companion. 
  • Take an active role in your safety by recognizing and avoiding hazards if and when they arise (including, but not limited to, those described in Earthwatch materials and safety briefings). Always comply with project staff instructions and recommended safety measures. 
  • Be able to effectively communicate to the staff if you are experiencing distress or need assistance. 
  • Be able to get along with a variety of people from different backgrounds and ages, often in close proximity, for the duration of your team. 
  • Be comfortable surrounded by a language and/or culture different from yours. 

 

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Health and Safety

EMERGENCIES IN THE FIELD

The project staff members who lead the volunteers in the field activities will have cell phones and two-way radios to communicate among the teams while conducting fieldwork. The station team is available 24 hours a day, seven days a week, in case of an emergency on campus that requires transportation to the hospital. 

Earthwatch has a 24-hour, 7-day-a-week emergency hotline number. Someone is always on call to respond to messages that come into our live answering service. 

IMMUNIZATIONS & TRAVEL VACCINATIONS

Please be sure your routine immunizations are up to date (for example, diphtheria, pertussis, tetanus, polio, measles, mumps, rubella, and varicella) and that you have the appropriate vaccinations for your travel destination. Medical decisions are the responsibility of each volunteer and their doctor. Visit the Center for Disease Control and Prevention or the World Health Organization for guidance on immunizations. 

If traveling from countries or regions where yellow fever is endemic, you must have a certificate of vaccination.

It is strongly encouraged that you stay up to date with your COVID-19 vaccinations, including receiving booster doses, as applicable.

 

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Project Risks and Precautions

TRANSPORTATION

Only qualified, experienced drivers will transport participants in project vehicles; we ensure project vehicles are well maintained. Seatbelts must be worn at all times. Participants are not permitted to drive. Driving after dark, except in emergency or night research activities, will be avoided.  

The roads between the Puerto Jimenez airport and accommodations are narrow and winding. The roads can induce motion sickness—even for those who do not usually suffer from it. Participants are encouraged to take preventative measures, such as not eating before these drives and bringing anti-nausea medications if needed.    

HIKING

You’ll traverse up to 10 miles per day in rubber boots (not hiking shoes), possibly uphill, over rough terrain, and in humid tropical conditions; there’s a risk of sprains, strains, bruises, or breaks due to falling or tripping. You should never walk ahead of your team leader and should follow the leader’s instructions. Wear rubber boots with good treads and ankle support while hiking. 

ANIMALS

You will be coexisting with wildlife while staying at the Osa Conservation Campus. Residents may encounter wildlife in living and communal areas, on trails, or throughout the campus. You will be briefed on animal proximity and safety at the start of the expedition. Participants are not permitted to touch a wild animal without the explicit consent of a trained field staff member. 

Venomous snakes are present in the area. Team members should wear tall rubber boots or snake guards in the field and should under no circumstances attempt to handle snakes. Participants must maintain at least a 2m distance if a snake is encountered.  

INSECTS

A wide variety of stinging insects are present at this project site, including bees and wasps. Those with insect allergies should bring the proper emergency treatment (such as Benadryl and Epi-pen, with spares) and inform staff of the type of allergy and the treatment location; they should take special precautions while collecting field data. Organizations in Costa Rica are not allowed to give non-prescribed medicine; volunteers must bring their own medicine or be transported to medical facilities for treatment (transportation to the clinic from the research site location can take a maximum of 2 hours).

CLIMATE/WEATHER

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 and a hat/cap. Dehydration from sweating can be a problem; please bring reusable water bottles that you can easily carry and refill them with electrolyte-replacing 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. You must be able to stay outside in the rain for extended periods. During the rainy season, participants might work in the rain unless there is a thunderstorm (in that case, fieldwork is suspended).

PROJECT TASKS/EQUIPMENT

All participants will be fully briefed and trained in all safe procedures related to animal research tasks, including proper handling of Sherman traps. While checking bat boxes and Sherman traps, participants may come in contact with animal urine and feces and must wear latex gloves and face masks to maximize health measures. Mammals will be handled by trained field staff only. 

PERSONAL SECURITY

Avoid areas designated as off-limits by project staff. Off-trail hiking is forbidden without staff members present.

SWIMMING

On the Osa Peninsula, the field site is near the Pacific Ocean, where there are extremely dangerous rip tides that have led to drowning, even in cases where people were in the water only up to their knees. Swimming in the ocean on campus property is forbidden (even when entering at knee level). For any other locations, field staff must be consulted first to know whether the area is safe for swimming—only rivers and lakes after previous consultation. No lifeguard is present, so adults may swim at their own risk only in permitted locations. Participants under the age of 18 are not allowed to swim since there is no certified lifeguard present.

DISTANCE FROM MEDICAL CARE

It is about a 1-hour drive from the accommodations to the closest medical clinic. The nearest fully equipped hospital is about a 3-hour drive from the accommodations. If someone is out in the field doing research when medical care is required, it may take up to an additional hour to get out of the field and back to the accommodations.  

DISEASE

All volunteers should see a travel doctor before leaving to discuss immunizations and other precautions against tropical diseases. 

  • Traveler’s diarrhea: Traveler's diarrhea affects many international travelers. We recommend speaking with your doctor before your trip and bringing a personal first-aid kit, including stomach illness relief and prescribed antibiotics.
  • Rabies: Vaccinations are highly encouraged but not mandatory since participants will be working in the area of bats and other high-risk species but will not directly handle the wildlife as part of this project. Volunteers are encouraged to consult with their healthcare providers about the rabies vaccine. Please consult your physician or travel health clinic well in advance to ensure you have time for the full vaccination series. If you have previously been vaccinated, a medical professional must check your antibody levels; a booster shot may be required. Rabies is a fatal disease. Treatment after rabies exposure requires immediate care (within 24 hours), and this type of rapid response will be available to volunteers on this project. Pre-exposure vaccination does not eliminate the need for post-exposure medical attention and treatment, but it does provide additional protection against the disease in the event of a delay in treatment. In addition, any bites or scratches should be immediately and thoroughly washed with soap, clean water, and a topical povidone-iodine solution or ethanol. 
RISK OF COVID-19 OR OTHER RESPIRATORY ILLNESS

Earthwatch strongly encourages you to take precautions to help protect yourself and others from common viral respiratory illnesses, including COVID-19, flu, and RSV: stay up to date with your vaccinations; wash your hands frequently; take steps to improve air quality, for example, by increasing ventilation indoors or gathering outdoors; and use preventative measures to limit the spread if you are sick. 

Persons with a higher risk of severe respiratory illness should consult their healthcare provider before participating. 

 

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Travel Planning

RENDEZVOUS LOCATION

Puerto Jiménez Airport (PJM) in Puerto Jiménez, Costa Rica. 

Daily flights to Puerto Jiménez are limited, so you may need to arrive in Costa Rica a day before your team begins to ensure you arrive in time for the team rendezvous. 

Participants who plan to take a flight from San Jose to Puerto Jimenez should be aware that these are small airplanes, and the luggage allowance is restricted to 30–40 lbs.; otherwise, you will need to pay an additional fee. This can be checked at https://www.flysansa.com/en

Specific travel planning details will be provided in your Earthwatch Expedition Logistics Document. This document can be found in your MyEarthwatch Portal once you enroll. Please do not book travel arrangements—such as flights—until the Expedition Logistics Document matching the current year has been published to your portal account.

ABOUT YOUR DESTINATION

Earthwatch strongly recommends that travelers investigate their destination before departure. Familiarity with the destination’s entry/exit requirements, visas, local laws, and customs can ensure smooth travel. The U.S. Department of State's Traveler’s Checklist and Destination Guides are helpful resources. For LGBTI travelers, the U.S. Department of State's LGBTI Travelers page contains many useful tips and links.

COUNTRY AND PROJECT ENTRY REQUIREMENTS

You are responsible for reviewing and abiding by your destination's entry/exit requirements. 

Entry visa requirements differ by country of origin, layover, and destination and do change unexpectedly. For this reason, please confirm your visa requirements at the time of booking and again 90 days before travel. Please apply early for your visa (we recommend starting six months before the start of your expedition). Refunds will not be made for volunteers who cancel due to not obtaining their visa in time to meet the team at the rendezvous. You can find up-to-date visa requirements at the following website: travisa.com.

If a visa is required, participants should apply for a TOURIST visa. Please note that obtaining a visa can take weeks or even months. We strongly recommend using a visa agency to expedite and simplify the process.

 

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Resources

ARTICLES
  • Whitworth, A., Beirne, C., Flatt, E., Froese, G., Nuñez, C., & Forsyth, A. (2021). Recovery of dung beetle biodiversity and traits in a regenerating rainforest: a case study from Costa Rica's Osa Peninsula. Insect Conservation and Diversity, 14(4), 439-454.
  • Vargas Soto, J. S., Beirne, C., Whitworth, A., Cruz Diaz, J. C., Flatt, E., Pillco‐Huarcaya, R., ... & Molnár, P. K. (2022). Human disturbance and shifts in vertebrate community composition in a biodiversity hotspot. Conservation Biology, 36(2), e13813.
  • Whitworth, A., Basto, A., Vinueza-Hidalgo, G., Pinto, C., Kleiner, L., & Soto-Navarro, C. (2023). Osa Biological Station: Protecting Central America’s greatest Pacific lowland rainforest. ECOTROPICA, 25(1/2).
BOOKS
  • Tropical Nature: Life and Death in the Rain Forests of Central and South America.(1987)  Adrian Forsyth (Author), Ken Miyata (Author), Dr. Thomas Lovejoy (Foreword) 
  • Coexistence: The ecology and evolution of tropical biodiversity. (2016) Jan Sapp. 
FIELD GUIDES
  • Pocket Guide to the Mammals of Costa Rica. Fiona A. Reid
  • Amphibians of Costa Rica: A Field Guide (Zona Tropical Publications).Twan Leenders. 
  • The Birds of Costa Rica: A Field Guide (Zona Tropical Publications). Richard Garrigues (Author), Robert Dean (Illustrator).
PROJECT–RELATED WEBSITE

 

Rainforest Revival in Costa Rica

 

 

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