20/12/2023

Forty years later: the world of ARCHELON has expanded

At the event for the 40th Anniversary of ARCHELON, Thomas Arapis, President and founding member of the Association, talked about the turtles and the people who coexist every day and create the world of ARCHELON today. Read the second part of his speech below.

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We encounter many sea turtles in our daily activities:

  • Female turtles nesting in Laganas Bay, Kyparissia Bay, Lakonikos Bay and Crete (Rethymno, Chania, Messara), as well as other areas in the Peloponnese (Kotychi, Romanos, Koroni, Evrotas, SE Lakonia). ARCHELON surveys daily 75 - 110 kilometers of coast every summer and records around 5.500 nests. The projects ensure the undisturbed nesting and egg-laying process, the protection of nests and hatchlings until they enter the sea and public awareness activities

  • Injured or sick turtles reported The ARCHELON Rescue Network, which operates on a 24-hour basis 365 days a year. The network is also activated in cases of stranded or dead animals, in cooperation with cost quards, fishermen and citizens and associations throughout the Greek coastline.

  • To date, around 1,500 injured or sick animals from all over Greece have been treated at the ARCHELON Sea Turtle Rescue Centre in Glyfada, Attica. Qualified staff and trained volunteers provide care for them there and after their recovery, these turtles return to the sea, to their natural environment

  • Turtles we monitor using satellite transmitters during their migratory routes as well as turtles in Amvrakikos Gulf, an important feeding ground for sea turtles, where we have been monitoring them since 2000 by tagging.

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Besides these many turtles, there are also many people in the world of ARCHELON...

  • More than 15,000 volunteers from all over the world have participated in our projects during these 40 years. About 500 volunteers each year.

  • The now 20 employees who carry the main burden of managing and implementing ARCHELON’s activities. Forty seasonal part-time associates are added each summer, bringing the number of employees to 60.

  • The members of the Association, who control and elect the Board of Directors and the Audit Committee with democratic procedures in the General Assembly.

  • The members who offer their expertise and voluntary service to the Board of Directors, the Scientific Committee and the Working Groups. Please note that ARCHELON implements the principle that employees cannot be elected as members of the Board of Directors, as well as that the members of the Board of Directors do not receive any financial benefits.

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  • In our world I want to include the public bodies that have responsibilities for the marine environment, nature protection and protected areas, especially the Ministry of Environment, the Natural Environment and Climate Change Agency (NECCA) and its competent Management Units in our project areas, with which we cooperate.

  • I would also like to single out the Coast Guard, responsible for the protection of nesting beaches and the surveillance of measures at sea, with whom we have also had an open channel of communication over the years for injured or dead animals and for sporadic nest incidents.

  • The Rescue Network as well as the effort to record sporadic nesting brought us close to people who care about the environment and wild animals throughout Greece and we were happy to cooperate with local groups, such as Naxos Wildlife Protection Societ, the Toulipa Goulimi Association in SE Lakonia, groups of local volunteers in Messara, Sitia, Kefallonia and many others. Together with them and with ANIMA, as well as with other organizations we worked to create the Cooperation Network of Organizations active in care of wild Animals in Greece.

  • Our world also includes all the private organizations and businesses that helped and are helping the work of ARCHELON with donations, sponsorships, collaborations, such as TEMES, ERGO, the Stavros Niarchos Foundation, CMA-CGM, UNISEA, TROFINKO, PLANET, HSBC, Frapport Greece, and many others. In the tourism sector, our cooperation with TUI, the largest tour operator in the world, which has started since the 1990s, continues. This year we started with the TUI Care Foundation a certification process for turtle-friendly hotels in northern Crete.

  • Also, the approximately 300 hotel units throughout the country, like Grecotel, Costa Navarino and Domes Aulus among others, that are particularly interested in the environment and the protection of sea turtles, help our work and encourage their customers to participate in our actions.

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  • Every year there are approximately 10,000 students and teachers who take part in our educational programs and visit the Rescue Centre in Glyfada and the Agiannakis Environmental Station in Kyparissiakos Bay, either in person or online.

  • Our world would not be complete without mentioning all the people who collaborated with us in previous years. They gave their best, together with the friends and assistants who actively stood by ARCHELON in many different ways during these 40 years.

  • Finally, we have to acknowledge as part of our world the hundreds of thousands of tourists visiting the nesting beaches and the Rescue Centre, who have learned about sea turtles during their holidays and have supported us, often returning as volunteers, themselves or their children. ARCHELON is a living part of the global efforts for protecting nature and the environment.

The event celebrating 40 years of ARCHELON took place in the Auditorium of the Benaki Museum, in Athens, on the 8th of November 2023.

You can watch a short video for the 40 years of ARCHELON here

You can read the first part of the president's speech here

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