Confessions of a Sea Turtle Volunteer by Brad Nahill

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I am thrilled to introduce you to Brad Nahill. Brad is the Co-Founder of SEE Turtles & SEEtheWILD.He is respected as a leader in wildlife conservation, and we are excited to bring his words into your home or office.

So without any delay...

Confessions of a Sea Turtle Volunteer by Brad Nahill

I wasn’t always a sea turtle fanatic. I didn’t grow up with a pet turtle, snorkel with green turtles in Hawaii, or even watch the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. I had a pretty boring suburban US childhood without a lot of interaction with nature. (Don’t tell any of my colleagues, but I didn’t know the first thing about turtles when I first went to work with them.)

The first time I saw a leatherback turtle, I nearly fainted. Expecting a normal sized turtle with a hard shell, watching a dinosaur weighing close to 1,000 pounds dragging itself out of the water was a wake up call to me. Since then, I have become a bit of an turtle evangelist and have helped hundreds of people visit turtle nesting beaches to volunteer or just watch this amazing creature.

At first I painted a beautiful picture for prospective volunteers (moonlight strolls on the beach, giant turtles laying eggs, daytime free to lounge). We quickly found that to attract people not quite prepared for the experience. I now start with the bad stuff (bugs, rain, little sleep, long walks in soft sand) and let people know that if they can put up with that, it can be the most amazing experience of your life.

Volunteering with a sea turtle conservation project is very rewarding with benefits including personal satisfaction, resume material, lots of exercise, new friends from around the world, and great stories to tell. It should not be taken lightly though; it is hard work and the local organizations that run the turtle programs expect volunteers to fulfill their obligations.

Generally the projects require at least a week’s stay and will take people for up to 3 months. The organizations that we work with require volunteers to pay for food and lodging (their budgets are not big enough to cover those expenses) which ranges from $25 to more than $100 per day. For people who can commit to at least two months and have biology degrees or field experience, some projects offer research assistant positions at no daily cost.

For more info on Brad and his organisations:

Brad started SEE Turtles with Dr. Wallace J. Nichols in 2007, to build the market for sea turtle conservation tourism. He has worked in sea turtle conservation, ecotourism, and environmental education for 12 years with organizations including Ocean Conservancy, Rare, Asociacion ANAI (Costa Rica), and the Academy of Natural Sciences (Philadelphia). In 2011, Brad co-founded a new project called SEEtheWILD, which promotes wildlife conservation travel around the world.

SEEtheWILD is an expansion of SEE Turtles, founded by conservationists Brad Nahill & Dr. Wallace J. Nichols. SEE Turtles connects travelers and volunteers with community-based turtle conservation projects in Costa Rica, Mexico, Trinidad, Nicaragua, and El Salvador. Since its launch in 2008, the project has generated more than $200,000 in support for turtle conservation and nearby communities, educated millions about turtle conservation travel, created more than 200,000 impressions for wildlife advocacy efforts, and our volunteers have filled more than 1,000 shifts at turtle nesting beaches.