21/12/2023

Assuming responsibility for the environment brings more meaning into our lives

During the recent event for the celebration of 40 years of ARCHELON, Thomas Arapis, President and founding member of ARCHELON, talked about the value and the future of the Association. Read below the concluding part of his speech.

Thomas Arapis, the president of ARCHELON, the sea turtle protection society of Greece on the 40 years anniversary event

  • Sea turtles have been living in the oceans and the seas of our planet for 120 million years, while ARCHELON started the efforts for their protection in Greece just 40 years ago. Of course, 40 is an insignificantly small number compared to 120 million, but it gains some value when recalling the international alarm about the danger of extinction of sea turtles during the second half of last century. And perhaps a little more value is added by the fact that the monitoring and conservation projects of ARCHELON in Zakynthos and Kyparissia are among the longest-running in the world! To some extent, the positive results recorded in Loggerhead populations in the Mediterranean provide for a justification of our efforts.

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What is ARCHELON contributing to society?

  • If environmental protection and sustainable development is something we as people and communities want to improve on, I think yes, ARCHELON is useful. For example, our work is directly useful to the State, which has an obligation to take care of the protection of nature and protected species. A full financial evaluation of the monitoring and conservation projects that ARCHELON has offered during its 40 years of activity would be calculated in several million euros.

  • However, the important impact of our work on society is not financial. It is the thousands of baby hatchlings that reach the sea every year, the dozens of injured turtles that are treated and released into their natural environment, it is the environmental education and awareness, the hands-on experience of volunteers, and the formation of ecological awareness in Greece and abroad.

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  • What gives us inspiration and strength to continue is the measurable outcome of our activities on the nesting beaches, the feeding grounds, and the Rescue Centre.

  • It is also the satisfaction of everyone working for ARCHELON, the experience they gain with each passing day, and their willingness to continue working with us and strive for even better results.

  • The encouraging feedback we get from volunteers, which is not only about sea turtles. Many of them say participating in the projects is an invaluable life experience.

  • After all, ARCHELON is a big school. A school that educates not only in matters of wildlife conservation and protection of the environment but also one that creates conditions for the development of values, perceptions and practices for a better and sustainable planet.

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What will tomorrow bring for ARCHELON?

We hope it will bring better management to protected areas:

  • That the ecological functions of nature will be ensured and further development of the coastal zone near the nesting areas will be avoided.

  • That there will be regulations of human activities around and on the beaches that will prevent habitat and species loss, also in view of the climate crisis.

  • We would like to see better coordination between the parties involved in nature conservation, better enforcement of protection measures, more effort to develop sustainable practices in tourism and fishing, in each of the localities we operate.

  • We would like to see less injured animals, less plastic litter in the sea. We, in ARCHELON, are willing to continue contributing to all of this, by monitoring and recording turtles and nests, treating injured animals, and informing people about their conservation issues. It is ourselves who must ensure that our actions today will have a positive effect in the future. By continuing with ARCHELON we keep on giving ourselves and nature yet another chance.

Lastly, I need to say that ARCHELON is an opportunity, not only for the animals and nature, but also for us who participate in this organization and for the society in which we operate. The fact that we assume even a small part of the collective responsibility for the environment, for the Mediterranean, is a sign of consciousness, which makes us better understand the world and our place in it. This gives meaning to our lives._

I wish all of us health, peace, and prosperity in the coming years.

Read more:

When the past becomes a lighthouse for the future

Forty years later: the world of ARCHELON has expanded

See the video for ARCHELON’s 40 years anniversary.

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