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Adopted Turtles Return!
 Upcoming Week Registration

Volunteering for a Week

Here are some common questions answered about the project (or click here to see the week availability and fees for volunteers):

What Does a Volunteer Do?
The work varies with the turtle activity, weather and crew
experience. One thing can always be counted on - the turtles dictate the work load.

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Egg Laying Season (mid May through early August)
Most of each night is spent patrolling six mile of beach looking for female turtles that have emerged from the ocean to lay their eggs.

When a turtle is spotted, the team waits for the right time to begin their work. They measure all turtles and put tags on turtles without tags.

If nests are in a high risk area, the eggs are relocated to a safer place in the sand dunes. All nest are covered with screens to protect them from raccoon and hog predation.

Because turtles usually lay their eggs at night, daytime is when the team sleeps and has free time to explore the island, relax, swim in the pool or catch up on any reading.

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Hatching season (late July through September)
Each of the nests is monitored for signs of hatching. When hatchlings begin emerging from the sand and making their way to the water the work begins. Members of the team escort the hatchlings and begin collecting data. Three days after the hatchlings emerge, the nest must be carefully excavated and the unhatched eggs counted. Hatching success is determined for each nest.

Most eggs hatch during the night, giving the hatchlings the safety of darkness to make their way across the sand to the water.

Because not all the nests hatch at once, there's usually more time during the Hatching Season to enjoy day activities.

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Are Volunteers Really Important?
Absolutely! The information collected by the volunteers helps to protect the turtles and improve their chances of survival along the Southeast coastline. You'll enjoy the hands-on learning experience of collecting the data, watch these giant reptiles lay their eggs or follow the hatchlings on their frantic trip into the surf.

You'll also have the opportunity to explore Wassaw Island, a beautiful example of a pristine Georgia sea island basically untouched by man. Hiking, bird watching, photography, relaxing on the beach, swimming in the pool, reading, spending times with friends or making new ones are just a few of the activities available while working on the turtle project.

Here's a team in August 2006 releasing hatchlings into the water after weighing and measuring a sample of hatchlings from the nest:

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Volunteer Qualifications
Age - If you are traveling by yourself, or with friends your age, you must be at least 16 years old. Exceptions have been made for highly motivated younger students.

Health - Good health. Plan on lots of walking each night and anytime the nests have to be relocated, plan on digging and carrying the bucket of eggs to the new nest. Good night vision will be helpful since most of the work is at night and use of flashlights is limited so the turtles aren't disturbed.

Most important is a positive attitude and sense of adventure. The cabin is small and it is close quarters especially if it is raining. There is no air conditioning so be prepared for humidity and a few bugs.

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Team Housing
Team members stay in two small cabins close to the center of Wassaw Island. One of the cabins houses 6 bunks in a one room dormitory with an indoor bathroom and an outdoor shower. The dorm cabin has a partial wall partition but complete segregation may not be possible depending on the male/female makeup of the week's crew. The other cabin contains the kitchen/dining area, staff bunkroom, an indoor bathroom/shower and a screened dining area.

Housing is rustic but reasonably comfortable. Electricity is available only in the kitchen cabin. Once again, there is no air conditioning.

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Food is included in the registration fee. A typical weeks' menus may include grilled chicken, stir-fry and spaghetti. Team members help with daily housekeeping and dinner food prep, cooking and cleanup. Breakfast, lunch and snacks are on your own from the cupboard selection. Please advise the staff in writing of any special dietary requirements when you send your application.

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What do you bring?
No special gear is required, but you might want to review the Packing and Directions page. This packing list will also be sent to you when we receive your application fee.

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How do I sign up?
Reservations may be submitted on or after the reservation date in January (usually the first business day of the year). The first step is deciding which available date you'd like to work, along with 2 alternative weeks. CALL FIRST to check week availability before filling out the application and mailing it to the address on the form. Reservations submitted without payment will be held, but not confirmed.

Each team has 6 volunteer spaces, available on a first-call, first-served basis. In this case, the first paid reservation. If you make a reservation by phone, the space(s) will be held up to 14 days for receipt of payment.

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How much does the project cost?
The registration fee for the project volunteers is per person per week. Click here to see the week availability and fees for volunteers. The fee covers all food, housing, leadership, transportation while on the island and boat transportation to and from the island. Point of departure and return is the Landings Harbor Marina.

The Savannah Science Museum, Inc., parent organization of the project, is a non-profit organization. Since this is a volunteer work project and not a recreational opportunity, your registration fee and any out-of-pocket expenses directly related to your participation (airline tickets, overnight lodging immediately before or after your week) may be tax deductible.

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Protecting Georgia's Loggerhead Sea Turtles since 1973
Caretta Research Project - PO Box 9841 - Savannah, GA 31412-0041 - 912.447.8655

(c)2005-2011 Caretta Research Project. All Rights Reserved.
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