Drake Bay Sea Turtles- By Locals, for Locals

The Corcovado Foundation is proud to announce that this year the local association ACOTPRO will be taking the reins of the sea turtle conservation project on Drake Beach!


Since we began this program in 2003, one of the foundation’s main goals has been to equip local people with the skills and experience to one day run their own conservation and volunteer program in the village of El Progreso.

When we began preliminary studies on Drake Beach, we found that over 85% of nests were lost to poaching each year. Today, 50 residents have the knowledge and experience to conserve these beautiful creatures and to earn a sustainable income through volunteering and eco-tourism.

Locals from ACOTPRO learning how to tag sea turtlesDr. Rob James, director of the sea turtle conservation program since 2011, explains that the foundation’s successful model involves engaging with local poachers, not antagonizing them.

“Many of the most enthusiastic local patrol leaders were once poachers. By demonstrating that conservation is a long-term solution to supporting their families, we have seen widespread behavior change in the community,” he said.

Through the creation of a volunteering homestay network, sea turtle tour and paid jobs as patrol leaders, the community of El Progreso has earned over $125,000, and the program has released over 77,000 hatchlings and protected 90% of nests.

A homestay house in Drake Bay“As with any community-based project, there have been ups and downs, but we are thrilled that ACOTPRO feels ready to take over responsibility for sea turtle conservation on Drake Beach. We have shared languages, cultures and friendships with hundreds of international volunteers and locals over the years and it is exciting to be expanding to new frontiers,” said Dr. James.

The Corcovado Foundation will now be focusing on our new conservation site in Río Oro, which receives over 3000 Olive Ridley sea turtle nests each year, making it the most important nesting beach in the South Pacific of Costa Rica. Volunteering information can be found here.

Don’t forget that you can still support us in Drake Bay by staying or volunteering at our non-profit hostel Drake Bay Backpackers.

A big congratulations to all past, present and future ACOTPRO members from everyone at the Corcovado Foundation! We wish them every success on Drake Beach and look forward to continuing to support ecotourism and conservation in the Drake Bay area and throughout the South West of the country.

A local from ACOTPRO working in the hatchery

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