Costa Rica is this week’s destination and we’re chatting with the Base Manager at GVI’s Jalova base, Alejandra Carvallo.  Alejandra is not only running the base but is also the Sea Turtle Project Leader so she has lots of experience in many aspects of marine conservation.  Her advice is to try your hand at everything as you are sure to learn something useful from it.

Name: Alejandra Carvallo

Job Title: Base Manager, Jalova Research Station

Organisation: GVI

  • What inspired you to pursue a career in marine conservation?

Marine conservation is the next step, our oceans are in critical conditions and it’s up to us to conserve as many species as possible as well as their habitat. With a great variety of species that offer an optimal environment for different organisms.

  • What steps did you take/are you taking to achieve your career goals?

Since I started my Bachelors degree, I always tried to be involved in the field, from volunteering in different facilities in Mexico for the summer, to being part of different research, rehab and release facilities as an intern after I graduated, to being able to work on a different variety of species.

Putting yourself out there makes a whole difference, as you learn different skills in the field.

  • How did you land your current job/position? 

I started at GVI as the Sea Turtle Project Leader , at that time my Base Manager was ending her time with us, and I got offered the opportunity to apply for the position, so I became Base Manager and Sea Turtle Project Leader in the Research Station.

  • Which part of your job do you enjoy the most?  

Every day is different, the conditions that we live in gives the option for a lot to happen. From new species that you spot for the first time, to a catch the flag game with the volunteers and staff. To be part of the day to day team that is giving it all for the research and conservation.

  • Are there aspects of your position which make you feel that you are really ‘making a difference’? 

Every hatchling counts, every time that is hatchling season and you can see all the little ones making it to the water and you get to rescue the few left in the nest assessing the hatchling survival rates of our population of turtles.

Every time a volunteer shows interest in what we do and why we do it, to see their faces when they learn something new, or when they Id an specie correctly

  • What do you know now that you wish you knew when you were starting out?  

Expect anything, the jungle conditions are great but it’s also open for a lot to happen, so be ready for anything, it will be a great adventure.

  • Are there any skills you never thought you would need but did?

Administration skills, I would have never thought I would end up running an Research station and those skills that I thought were just in the package actually came really handy.

  • What advice would you give to budding marine conservationists?  

Try everything, it may be jumping to something new, to learn something that you think you can’t do, still try, you will still learn something from it. Ask as many questions as possible, absorb as much as you can from everyone around you. Keep your options open, and keep moving forward.

  • What is your favourite marine creature and why?  

It would be the Orca, as one of the biggest dolphins his charismatic presence in the research and conservation field is of such importance, being an animal that keeps trying and work as well as an individual as an in a team, that works with logic, and get to travel miles every day.

  • What is your most unforgettable moment in the sea?  

It would be the first time I got to swim with whale sharks, an amazing experience, where you realize how small we are in this big ocean. Being able to be around of at least 10 individuals feeding around you, seeing their calm in their eyes, an experience that I won’t forget.


Thank you, Alejandra.  Keep your eyes open and keep moving forward is great advice for anyone looking to progress in their marine conservation journey!

You could join a GVI marine programme too, maybe Costa Rica or one of their other locations. Check out their Marine Research Expeditions

Don’t forget to sign up to our weekly job alert emails and keep an eye on our Wise Work pages so you don’t miss your dream opportunity in more marine conservation.