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Sea Turtles 911

Volunteer to make a difference...

  • Mass turtle poaching from ocean

  • Boats transport poached turtles

  • Stuffed in sacks for sale at harbor

  • Packaged in boxes to be shipped

  • Sold as food in restaurants

  • Shells processed into bracelets

  • Assorted turtle shell products

  • Preserved turtle as wall mount

  • Products sold at open street stalls

  • Sold in display counters at malls


Volunteers release sea turtle on beach

Sea Turtles 911 volunteers at beach clean up
Sea Turtles 911 offers a Volunteer Community Service Program for people who are interested in volunteer opportunities in sea turtle conservation. The impactful work contributed by volunteers have been featured on the BBC, CNN, and the National Geographic. The volunteer program is currently located in two different islands: Honolulu, Hawaii, U.S.A. and Haikou, Hainan island, China, which is often referred to as the "Hawaii of China".

The minimum commitment is 10 community service hours per week, so volunteers have plenty of personal time on their own to explore Hawaii or China. Volunteers should have a sense of adventure and be comfortable in new environments working with others. Plans may change so volunteers should be flexible and relaxed to the ever-changing requirements of the organization and conservation partners. The volunteer work at each location will vary, depending on the specific needs of the local team at the time of your arrival. As a grassroots organization, our staffing is limited so volunteers support our daily work in educational tourism as described below. For volunteers traveling to Hawaii, they also have the opportunity to be a citizen scientist, whereas those traveling to China, can be caretakers for sea turtle patients by assisting in husbandry care and medical treatments at our rescue center.
Volunteer in Educational Tourism (Hawaii and China)
Volunteers educate the local community and tourists about the importance of protecting sea turtles. They are involved in public outreach activities at various venues to raise awareness for marine conservation. Through tourism, volunteers have the opportunity to educate more people about the challenges in protecting sea turtles and possible solutions to address them. In Hawaii, sea turtles can be frequently seen in both the near shore waters and on land along coastal beaches, so volunteers have the unique opportunity to educate tourists at the beaches where wild sea turtles can be seen. In China, volunteers have the opportunity to educate visitors at the sea turtle rescue center where our injured and sick turtle patients reside during their recovery.

Volunteers may also help develop and implement new education programs, activities, and events, in the local community or hotel resorts. Depending on the location, this could include providing guests with sea turtle conservation presentations, activities, events, such as beach clean-ups. Furthermore, volunteers may assist in building partnerships with organizations, governments, media, and celebrities, to support conservation activities and events. Some of our past events include:
Student interns taking pictures of wild sea turtles

Volunteer eco tour guide at sea turtle beach in Hawaii
Volunteer as Citizen Scientist (Hawaii only)

Volunteers in Hawaii engage in citizen science work to support scientists from NOAA. Read more about the request for volunteer help in the local news in Hawaii. The beauty of nature is part of Hawaii's allure but it is important to approach this opportunity with practicality. Volunteers do not touch wild sea turtles directly since keeping nature undisturbed is one of our priorities. Volunteers take photos of wild turtles from a distance while exploring hidden beaches by foot, or snorkeling and diving in the water if they are strong swimmers.

Since the scales on each side of a sea turtle's head is unique like fingerprints of humans, photographs are very helpful in the collection of data for sea turtle conservation management. Read this sea turtle photo-identification research paper for more details.

Volunteers in Hawaii who have experience with flying drones may have the opportunity to operate unmanned aerial vehicles (UAV), or remote controlled drones, to monitor sea turtles in the wild. This new technology is a cost-effective way to document sea turtles for many conservation management programs around the world. For more information, read about this researcher's turtle work with drones and her research paper on UAV monitoring of sea turtles in near-shore waters.
Interns tubefeeding sea turtle
Volunteer as Sea Turtle Caretaker (China only)
Volunteers in China get hands-on experience working with endangered sea turtles during their rehabiliation and husbandry care. Caring for injured and sick sea turtles at our rescue center is critical to the conservation of the species. Volunteers may assist staff during medical treatments, such as fluid therapy, antibiotic injections, vitamin administration, and tubefeeding.

Sea turtles at the rescue center often need to be moved from one tank to another for a variety of rehabiliation purposes. Volunteers are trained on how to handle and carry sea turtles safely and how to provide proper husbandry care, such as feeding sea turtles, preparing turtle food, and cleaning sea turtle tanks and net enclosures.
Yao Ming receives Sea Turtles 911 program certificate
NBA basketball celebrity Yao Ming receives Certificate from Sea Turtles 911 for volunteering for sea turtle conservation.

Sylvia Earle and Sea Turtles 911 Founder Frederick Yeh
Sylvia Earle and Frederick Yeh, Founding Director of Sea Turtles 911.
Program Registration and Certification

We are flexible with start dates anytime of the year, but expect volunteers to also be flexible with their schedule when they arrive, providing at least 10 hours of volunteer service per week with a minimum commitment of one week. Upon completion of the program, volunteers will receive an official certificate with an unique quick response (QR) code, which can be scanned to verify authenticity of the document. Volunteers can also have their names listed on our website, which further confirms their participation in the program when they list this volunteer work experience on their resume for future job opportunities.

Finally, volunteering is about giving back before it's too late. "Our near and distant predecessors might be forgiven for exterminating the last woolly mammoth, the ultimate dodo, the final sea cow, and the last living monk seal for lack of understanding the consequences of their actions. But who will forgive us if we fail to learn from past and present experiences, to forge new values, new relationships, a new level of respect for the natural systems that keep us alive?" -Sylvia Earle, Time Magazine's first hero of the planet, NOAA's first female chief scientist, and TED talk prize winner

To register for this volunteer opportunity, complete the Program Registration Form and send to: In your email, please indicate which location you are interested in: Hawaii or China.

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