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Cocos Island Research Expedition

Volunteer Opportunity to Participate in Research Tagging and Tracking Sea Turtles and Hammerhead Sharks

May 26 - June 5, 2014 (one space left for male diver)
Dec 9-19, 2014
Feb 11-21, 2015
July 18-28, 2015

Photo (c) George Duffield

Cocos Island Named Best Place to Dive with Sharks by CNN!  Read the story here.

You’re invited to join me, Todd Steiner, Executive Director of the Sea Turtle Restoration Project, on an 10 or 12-day live-aboard dive research expedition to Cocos Island National Park to help study the sea turtles and sharks of the region.  Our aim is to better understand these species' movements, and collect data necessary to advocate for marine protected “swimways.”  Joining us for our November 2013 expedition will be award-winning conservationist Randall Arauz and marine biologists Dr. Boris Worm and Dr. Alex Hearn.  Your participation as a volunteer research assistant may be tax-deductible*.

These trips rank as my most memorable lifetime diving experiences, and offer some of the most spectacular opportunities to view and photograph the incredible marine biodiversity of the East Pacific.  Expedition participants will get to dive among schooling hammerheads, several species of sea turtles, and schools of thousands of fish, as they support conservation efforts directly at the site.

To read testimonials from previous expedition participants, click here.

Cocos Island National Park and World Heritage site is located 530 km southwest of Costa Rica's mainland. Known as one of the world’s most incredible diving destinations, it is famous for its large populations of scalloped hammerhead and white tip reef sharks, and boasts a number of endemic fish that occur nowhere else on the planet.  Hammerheads are easily viewed at close range at “cleaning stations,” and inquisitive green turtles commonly approach our dive teams, offering fantastic photographic opportunities and facilitating tagging studies.

Other regularly observed species include Galapagos sharks, black tip sharks, silky sharks, marbled rays, eagle rays and bottlenose dolphins. The special treat of any diving expedition--whale sharks--are also occasionally observed. Endless schools of jacks also swarm the island.

On these upcoming trips researchers will add to our current tagging efforts with a combination of satellite, acoustic, and monel tags.  Already, our dive research expeditions have tagged 150 sharks with acoustic telemetry and 72 green and two hawksbill turtles to build our knowledge of their migratory routes.  We will also recover, download data and re-deploy six acoustic receivers located underwater around the island. Participants will be able to assist with various levels of research depending on experience.

The expedition will be supported by the experienced and well-known dive company Undersea Hunter S.A, which has been running expeditions to Cocos Island since 1990. We will be using the 130-foot MV Argo, their newest and largest live-aboard vessel. Participants will be divided into two dive groups which will be under the supervision of an experienced Dive Master/Rescue Diver. Those planning to dive must be experienced divers, with PADI or NAUI membership, and must have personal DAN insurance. Nitrox is available for certified divers.

To see amazing 360 degree views of the Cocos Island, the Undersea Hunter vessel and underwater views from the DeepSee submersible, click here.

To expand the connections between scuba divers and Cocos Island research and conservation, Sea Turtle Restoration Project is now partnering with nonprofit Project Aware "Protecting Our Ocean Planet - One Dive at a Time." Learn more about Project Aware at www.projectaware.org.

Trip Details:

For more information, contact: Madeline Rose at info@seaturtles.org.

Upcoming trips:

May 26-June 5, 2014 (10-day trip)
Cost: $5,945 (includes all meals and nitrox refills) + $245 (Cocos Island National Park entrance fee) + $60 (round-trip transportation between hotel in San José to dock in Puntarenas).  TOTAL cost of trip:  $6,250*

Dec 9-19, 2014 (10-day trip)
Cost: $5,885 (includes all meals and nitrox refills) + $245 (Cocos Island National Park entrance fee) + $60 (round-trip transportation between hotel in San José to dock in Puntarenas).  TOTAL cost of trip:  $6,190*

Feb 11-21, 2015  (10-day trip)
Cost: $6,035  (includes all meals and nitrox refills) + $245 (Cocos Island National Park entrance fee) + $60 (round-trip transportation between hotel in San José to dock in Puntarenas).  TOTAL cost of trip:  $6,340*

July 18-28, 2015 (10-day trip) Cost:  TBD

* These expenses may be tax-deductible, as they help finance the research expedition.

For details of costs and a sample trip itinerary click hereTo ensure a space on one of these expeditions we are requesting a 50% deposit. (To see cancellation policy, click here)

Expedition members are expected to arrange their own travel to Costa Rica.

The expedition begins with pickup at the hotel of your choice in San Jose, Costa Rica on day one at around 10:00 am, and ends when we return you to your hotel on last day at around 12:00 noon.  

Sea Turtle Restoration Project • PO Box 370 • Forest Knolls, CA 94933, USA
Phone: +1 415 663 8590 • Fax: +1 415 663 9534 • info@seaturtles.org
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