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Surveys At Camp  Osita

I have always loved wildlife and wanted to be involved in conservation. I came to Costa Rica for this reason, but with little idea about how the surveys would work here! After three weeks, I’m settled in at camp and completing surveys everyday – so here is a breakdown of what to expect if you decide to join Frontier in Costa Rica.

Every afternoon, the surveys for the next day are added to our sign-up board. You can choose any of the surveys you would like, with many volunteers aiming to sign up to as many as possible! As the Osa Peninsula has such a wide range of flora and fauna, each survey is a unique experience, with a variety of trails on which to study.
Turtle Patrols

The patrol covers the beaches of both Carate and Leona and is held early in the morning, before the sun has had a chance to heat the sand or the waves wash away any tracks. You search for turtle tracks and, if found, investigate whether they belong to a false crawl or if a nest has been laid.


When nests have been identified, they are left until the incubation period is over. They are then re-visited to determine whether the eggs hatched successfully. All data is recorded in order to evaluate the hatchling success rate and threats to the nests.

Bird Surveys

These start early; you need to have arrived at the first transect point before the dawn chorus begins. They are extremely peaceful though, as you sit at each transect point and listen to the birdsong surrounding you. It’s also brilliant learning the bird calls for the 44 species studied here and so rewarding when you begin to recognise these.

Primate Surveys

Held throughout the day, you will walk along the different trails and identify any primate species you observe. Their direction of travel, activity and GPS coordinates are taken at each siting. At Camp Osita, we study howler monkeys, capuchins, squirrel monkeys and spider monkeys. Even as I write this now, the howler monkeys are calling loudly to one another.

Mammal Surveys

One of the surveys I was most looking forward to was the mammal surveys and rightly so! We begin the trails usually just after sunrise or later in the afternoon, allowing enough light to look for tracks. We investigate the sand traps for prints and look for faeces and any other evidence of mammals passing through the area. Ocelot paw prints from a mother and cub were found a few weeks ago – a very exciting revelation!

Amphibian and Reptile Surveys

These usually occur after sunset. You will search the leaf litter and trees for any amphibians or reptiles in the forest. When a species is found, data including whether it’s a juvenile and whether it was found in vegetation or water is recorded. The last A&R survey I went on, we saw so many species including a milk frog and a glass frog, thanks to our passionate survey coordinator, Loris Capria.

In addition to these core surveys, there are other projects on-going on camp, such as bat surveys and macaw surveys. You will also have the opportunity to create your own project and earn a Frontier Habitat Conservation certificate.

The Frontier team are always so friendly and knowledgeable, completely open to any questions we have. I’ve learnt so much about conservation work and the science behind the projects, whilst also having incredible sightings of Costa Rica’s amazing wildlife.

By Isabelle Cross - Costa Rica Media & Journalism Intern

Frontier runs conservation, community developmentteaching and adventure travel projects in over 50 countries worldwide - so join us and explore the world!

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