Enjoy this beautiful video of the marine life we are working to save at Cocos Island: Magic Cocos.

Volunteer Opportunity to Participate in Research Hammerhead Sharks and Sea Turtles

Have the experience of a lifetime on a unique shark conservation research expedition at Cocos Island, Costa Rica.  Be a part of Turtle Island Restoration Network’s long-term conservation study of sharks and sea turtles at Cocos Island. We have operated successful diver-assisted research expeditions at Cocos Island for more than a decade.

2018 Schedule and Rates:

August 9 to 19, 2018: 10-day trip on Undersea Hunter’s Argo

Full – contact us to get on the waiting list.

TOTAL cost per trip:  $6,785
(Cost: $6,295, share of research cost + $490, Cocos Island National Park entrance fee. Discounts available for repeat participants.) 

December 7 to 17, 2018: 10-day trip on Undersea Hunter’s Argo
$1,000 Discount! NEW DISCOUNTED PRICE: TOTAL cost per trip:  $5,785
(Cost: $5,295, share of research cost + $490, Cocos Island National Park entrance fee. Discounts available for repeat participants.) 

Your share of the research costs may be tax-deductible in the United States based on your participation as a volunteer research assistant.

Scroll down for detailed information on the Cocos Island Research Project, the Dive Site, the Dive Experience, our Dive and Vessel Operator, the Vessel, Testimonials and more.

To speak with our staff about any questions you may have or to book your space, contact Todd Steiner, Executive Director, at tsteiner@tirn.net or 800-859-7283 ext. 103 (or 1-415-663-8590 ext. 103 if outside the U.S.) Space is limited, please contact us now to reserve your spot.

Credit Undersea Hunter Schmulik Blum

Credit Undersea Hunter, Schmulik Blum

Overview: Enjoy conservation diving at Cocos Island, one of the world’s top locations for shark congregations. Join a Turtle Island research expedition to Cocos Island and work alongside scientists to research sea turtle and shark populations and migration at one of the world’s premiere scuba diving sites to see hammerhead sharks and a myriad of large marine species. Turtle Island Restoration Network has conducted 2-3 expeditions to Cocos Island each year for more than 10 years. Your research leaders are Turtle Island Founder and Director Todd Steiner, biologist and respected conservation leader, and Randall Arauz, shark advocate and winner of the Goldman Environmental Award. Our research has led to new understanding of sea turtle and shark migrations throughout the region. This diver assisted research will provide the basis for strong protections to stop commercial fishers from invading these treasured waters.

07_11 Cocos_W1Q3729

The Research Site: Cocos Island National Park in Costa Rica is known worldwide as an ocean haven for spectacular sharks, rare sea turtles, whales and abundant marine wildlife. These trips offer some of the most spectacular opportunities to view and photograph the incredible marine biodiversity of the East Pacific.

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.  Cocos Island was recently named the best place to dive with sharks by CNN.  Read the story here.


Credit: Nonnie Silver, Expedition Participant

The Diving: Expedition participants will dive among schooling hammerheads, several species of sea turtles, and schools of thousands of fish, as they support conservation efforts directly at the site. Participate in three fantastic dives each day, which are enhanced through work with Turtle Island biologists to study sea turtles, and census and track sharks. Participants will be able to assist with various levels of research depending on experience. Enjoy engaging conservation lectures and socializing with fellow ocean lovers every evening.

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.

Requirements: Divers must be experienced divers, with PADI or NAUI membership, and must have personal DAN insurance. Nitrox is available for certified divers, and certification is also available on the vessel.  The minimum required level of certification to dive at Cocos is Open Water. Please contact us for more information about required certifications.

Most of the action is at 60-90 feet /18-27 meters, and most dives are between 60-130 feet / 18-40 meters. Average temperature is 79 F to 84 F (26 C to 29 C), although it can be a few degrees lower under the occasional thermocline.

Turtle Island Restoration Network Cocos Island Dive Expedition

Our Dive Operations Partner: The expedition will be supported by the experienced and well-known dive company Undersea Hunter S.A, which has been operating expeditions to Cocos Island since 1990. The company is committed to absolutely top-notch dive experiences, vessels and service, and has operated expeditions for National Geographic, Sylvia Earle and many other world-renowned ocean explorers and conservationists. Click here to read about Undersea Hunter’s commitment to safety. Participants will be divided into two dive groups which will each be under the supervision of an experienced Undersea Hunter Dive Master/Rescue Diver.

Cocos - Undersea Hunter Argo

Vessel: We will be using Undersea Hunter’s newest vessel, the MV Argo, a beautiful 130-foot live-aboard dive vessel for up to 18 passengers and a crew of 14. A comfortable and stylish lounge, dining area and sun deck comprise the social areas. A well-equipped galley enables the ship’s chefs to prepare fresh, international level, four-star cuisine. To view photos and deck plans of this working yacht, click here. Three, powerful, fumeless 24-foot skiffs serve as tender-boats. The Argo sometimes carries a three-person submersible that may be available (at additional cost) for participants who wish to explore deep depths. To see amazing 360 degree views of the Cocos Island, the Undersea Hunter vessel and underwater views from the DeepSee submersible, click here.

Testimonials: to read testimonials from a just few of our hundreds of satisfied dive researchers, click here.


Make your trip to Cocos Island this year, for the experience of a lifetime diving with sharks and protecting their future!

To speak with our staff about any questions you may have or to book your space, contact Todd Steiner, Executive Director, at tsteiner@tirn.net or 800-859-7283 ext. 103. Space is limited, please contact us now to reserve your spot.

Upcoming trips:

August 9 to 19, 2018 (10-day trip) TOTAL cost per trip:  $6,785 FULL (contact us to be placed on wait list)

December 7 to 17, 2018: (10-day trip) TOTAL cost per trip:  $5,785

Please read our cancellation policy, available here.