Dolphin Conservation
& Research

If you’re looking for a truly unique summer experience, your search is over. At Dolphin Conservation & Research, you can look forward to spending a week on a boat researching wild dolphins off the coast of Costa Rica.

You’ll be trained in the on-site research methods and spend the rest of your week helping the professional researchers tracking a known population of wild dolphins.

Prepare for the future

Research projects like the one you’ll be joining in Costa Rica are vitally important for the preservation of animal species and habitats. You can look forward to:
  • Daily boat excursions to collect biometric data, track pod behavior, and complete photo ID image analysis
  • Time in the dolphin lab to complete necropsies and shark dissections and analyze collected data
  • Learning in groups of 10 or fewer, ensuring individualized attention from your teaching vets

Please note: swimming with the dolphins is not permitted for animal safety and there are no captive dolphins on-site.

By attending Dolphin Conservation & Research, you can earn up to 40 research hours, which can be included with a vet school application.

2024 Program Dates & Tuition

Full for 2024

What’s Included

All Meals

On-Site Accommodations

10:1 Teaching Vet-to-Student Ratio

Up to 40 research hours

Round trip airfare*

*Roundtrip airfare from the designated international airport hub is included. Any travel costs from your location to that hub are not included.

Program Highlights

Daily Boat Excursions

You’ll spend a great deal of your time on the research boat, completing photographic ID analysis, collecting biometric data, and tracking pod behavior.

Lab Time

In the land-based dolphin lab, you’ll help the research team perform necropsies and shark dissections, analyze stomach contents, and analyze the vast data points collected on the boat.

Golfo Dulce

Golfo Dulce, a tropical fjord, is home to bottlenose dolphins, pantropical spotted dolphins, and humpback whales. You’ll enjoy a firsthand look at the interaction between the conservationists and the natural environment during your time here.

Earn Research Hours

Research hours are important for people interested in pursuing a career in veterinary science and conservation because they demonstrate passion and dedication for the field. Research hours can be included along with an application to veterinary school.

Your Adventure, Day by Day

Day 1

Arrival in Houston

  • Registration at a hotel nearby the George Bush Intercontinental Airport (IAH)
  • Group introductions and welcome dinner

Day 2

Journey to Costa Rica

  • Group flight with chaperone from IAH to Juan Santamaría International Airport (SJO)
  • Travel from San Jose to the Osa Peninsula
  • Welcome dinner

Day 3

Introduction to Research

  • Orientation and introductions
  • Introduction to the behavior & biology of dolphins
  • Data collection tutorial & practice

Day 4

Research Day I

  • Data collection on the boat
  • Data processing in the lab

Day 5

Research Day II

  • Data collection on the boat
  • Data processing in the lab
  • Necropsy lab
  • CEIC Presentation

Day 6

Research Day III

  • Data collection on the boat
  • Data processing in the lab
  • Necropsy lab
  • CEIC Presentation

Day 7

Research Day IV

  • Data collection on the boat
  • Data processing in the lab
  • Exam
  • Group Presentation and Debrief

Day 8


The events included on this itinerary are subject to minor changes before your program.

Please note: Swimming with the dolphins is not permitted for animal safety and there are no captive dolphins on-site. You will be in the water during this program. Participants should be confident swimmers. This program does not require or include diving.

Image Gallery

What some of our students and their parents are saying…

This was the best, life changing experience. I loved the staff and other students. Overall, I learned many useful skills.”

This program allowed me to not only gain more career experience but social experience as well. I was able to learn so much while I was here while also having fun. I would definitely recommend this program to anyone interested.”

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For the safety of students, staff, and animals, not all animals may be touched or handled by participants. The teaching veterinarian and other professional staff members will advise students of the proper time, place, and method to handle animals when it is safe to do so.