18/11/2019

ARCHELON's 9 conservation volunteer projects for 2020

The coasts are particularly important areas for nature and humans and are at risk due to environmental pressures and climate change. The largest urban centers continue to grow, the ports are expanding and also millions of people search for recreation on the coasts. Loggerhead sea turtles (Caretta caretta) live at sea but come ashore to make their egg chambers on specific sandy beaches in many parts of the world. A striking fact is that in less than 100 km of sandy beaches in Greece, one can find almost 50% of the loggerhead nests laid in the Mediterranean. The fate of these eggs and nests rests with human vigilance. Unless they are protected, the population of the loggerhead in the Mediterranean will drop sharply within a few years.

The 9 sea turtle projects in Greece organized annually by ARCHELON aim to address these problems and systematically record and collect data on sea turtles. Volunteers who wish to participate in these projects should be from 18-65 years old. No previous experience is required.

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Over 500 volunteers from around the world dedicate time and energy to the projects on 7 nesting beaches each year. If you want to help nature on the coast, make sure that adult turtles lay their eggs and hatchlings get safely into the sea, the projects in Zakynthos, Kyparissia, Koroni, Laconikos Bay, Rethymno, Chania and Messara Bay are expecting you. Each project has a different start and end date during the May - October period.

Ensuring the continuation of projects is one of the main concerns of ARCHELON. Thus, we are very happy to welcome back volunteers from previous years, the “returning” volunteers. Field leaders are also very important for the smooth running of projects. They are selected through a different application procedure and receive specific training throughout the project period. A number of Greek speaking volunteers is also very important for carrying out public awareness activities.

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ARCHELON welcomes internships by agreement with educational institutions in all 9 projects. "In 2019, 70 internships were successfully completed, most of them with educational institutes from countries abroad," explains Regina Stefanatou, ARCHELON’s Project coordinator. She continues: "In 2020, internships may include volunteer duties as well as, for the first time, field leader responsibilities. The projects provide practical knowledge and experience in wildlife protection, biology, ecology, veterinary care as well as human resources management and communication”.

ARCHELON operates the Sea Turtle Rescue Centre in Glyfada since 1995. Over 60 volunteers from all around the world support the Centre each year. If you wish to help rescue sea turtles who are injured, or ill from pollution, plastics and human negligence, you may devote your energy to this 8th project, the Rescue Centre.

"The Rescue Centre welcomes turtles, and therefore volunteers, all year long," says the coordinator Dimitris Fytilis. And he continues: "The support of volunteers in treatment, maintenance and public awareness at the Centre is invaluable. Their reward is the return of 30 rehabilitated turtles back to the sea each year and the interest of the public. We also accept internships from undergraduate vets and veterinary nurses".

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ARCHELON's 9th project for 2020 is the Amvrakikos project that runs in the Gulf of Amvrakikos and Western Greece from June until the end of August. If you want to help collect scientific data on the ecology and characteristics of sea turtle populations in this feeding area and locate new breeding sites, this is the best option.

"All people involved in ARCHELON's projects help protect the environment at a critical time for the whole planet," says Chara Papailiou, ARCHELON’s volunteers officer. "Their presence has a very positive impact on local communities, visitors on the nesting beaches and at the Rescue Centre. It is an active attitude that helps to restore humanity’s relationship with nature, life on the coast and at sea".

Information about the 9 ARCHELON volunteer projects for 2020 is available HERE.

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