An Interview with WiseOceans… Nicki Wheeler from LAST

This week we’re in Costa Rica with Nicki Wheeler, International Coordinator for LAST.  Nicki aims to motivate students and volunteers into action and inspire them to become the next generation of turtle protectors.  She warns that the road is sometimes bumpy but the rewards are great!

Name: Nicki Wheeler

Job Title: International Coordinator

Organisation: Latin American Sea Turtles (LAST)

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

Seeing my first leatherback nesting on a remote Costa Rican beach – changed my life forever!

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

I moved to Costa Rica (from Spain) and set about making contacts and visiting as many projects as possible. Now, I am continuing my education in environmental sciences and specialising in Climate Change

  • How did you land your current job/position? 

I now luckily work for the organization that gave me the opportunity to see that first leatherback turtle! We had several occasions to network over the years, and the position came up at the right time for me

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

I love promoting conservation activities! I am involved with universities and students, but also with the general public who just want to lend a hand. If we can inspire just one person to continue in this field and become the next generation and turtle protectors, then I have done my job.

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

Yes – being able to motivate students and volunteers into taking action, educating school groups to take a step back and see how our planet is affected by our daily actions.

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

Conservation is hard – both physically and emotionally. Its easy to get affected by issues. There is a lack of funding available, and it’s a struggle to achieve your objectives.

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

Keeping an open mind to the negatives of our work. Communicating with poachers and consumers of turtle eggs takes a certain kind of tolerance.

  • What advice would you give to budding marine conservationists?  

Hang in there…the road is sometimes bumpy, but your ultimate reward is seeing recovering ecosystems, populations or natural habitats!

  • What is your favourite marine creature and why?  

Turtles of course! All species – but the leatherback will always be extra special!

  • What is your most unforgettable moment in the sea?  

Scuba diving with a leatherback turtle


Thanks Nicki, it sounds like you are doing an amazing job and your passion for leatherbacks shines through!

If you would like to get involved in the protection and conservation of sea turtles then have a look at these volunteer opportunities with LAST

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.