Notes of a volunteer (Part 2): Ηead trauma happens more often and is more serious than you think

Head trauma represents the most frequent type of injury at the ARCHELON Sea Turtle Rescue Centre. These wounds are caused by collisions with boats or, more often, from deliberate hits on the head by humans. Jessica Van Damme who volunteered at the ARCHELON Sea Turtle Rescue Centre for 6 weeks in 2023, shares more notes about what she learned while taking care of sea turtles with human caused injuries.


“I was shocked to hear that these wounds are inflicted by humans, and I was even more shocked to see how severe the injuries sometimes looked. Some of these head injuries results in brain exposure”, writes Jessica. Below are some more of her notes:

  • The rehabilitation of sea turtles who have suffered from head trauma is often long, as they lose the ability to control their buoyancy, most likely due to neurological damage caused by the trauma.

  • This means that instead of seeing them resting and swimming at the bottom of the rehabilitation tanks, they are always at the water surface because they are unable to dive. As their injuries heal, they regain the ability to control their buoyancy.


  • Most sea turtles that suffer from head trauma also initially present with anorexia. Getting them to regain their appetite can take months.

  • With the sea turtles that do not eat, we try to tempt them twice a day for at least 10 minutes. We hold a piece of fish with a forceps by their tank and hope that they will take a bite from the piece of fish.

  • For 5 weeks, Plum, Cherry and Ravioli were three of the sea turtles which had barely -if at all- eaten. In the last week of my stay, all 3 of them suddenly gained their appetite. Ravioli had arrived in the summer of 2022 and she had not properly eaten for almost a year!


  • Head trauma can also lead to loss of vision in turtles, which may be permanent. Even so, if a sea turtle can feed underwater independently, she can still survive in the wild. However, the rehabilitation length varies between turtles and ranges from several weeks to several months to years depending on the extent of the injuries.

  • A hugely rewarding feeling emanates when a turtle finally eats food, after you’ve spent so much time encouraging them to do so. Patience is everything with sea turtles.

  • Many of the injured sea turtles are able to make a full recovery and this shows how resilient they are as a species. It is also thanks to the fantastic work done by Eirini, the Rescue and Rehabilitation Officer and Mike, the Rehabilitation Assistant.

Thank you Jessica for taking the time to share your notes with everyone!


See the turtles that are currently being treated at the Rescue Centre and adopt one of them

Become a volunteer at the ARCHELON Rescue Centre



    30 Years of Hope: The Sea Turtle Rescue Centre of ARCHELON Celebrates World Sea Turtle Day

    Every year on June 16th, we celebrate World Sea Turtle Day, a day dedicated to raising awareness about these magnificent creatures and the threats they face. This year is particularly important for ARCHELON, as the Sea Turtle Rescue Centre marks 30 years of operation.

    Read more

    Poster contest for children and young adults: Welcome the 2024 turtle hatchlings on the beaches!

    Watercolors, markers, collage, computer, phone? Everything is useful. Use your creativity and imagination to make an A3 or A4 size poster announcing that the 2024 sea turtle eggs are about to hatch.

    Read more

    Amvrakikos Project 2024: Special Call for a Field Leader

    ARCHELON is looking for a highly motivated person to lead its project in Amvrakikos Gulf, one of the few foraging sites for loggerhead turtles in Greece linking several populations nesting across the Mediterranean region.

    Read more

    Τhe nesting of loggerhead sea turtles started earlier this year and the effects of the climate crisis on the oceans are worrying

    For the first time, in the 40 years of ARCHELON records, the first sea turtle nest was found in Laganas Gulf, Zakythos on May 10th. Scientific predictions of the nesting season moving earlier in the spring due to climate change are being confirmed.

    Read more

    Save Turtles, See Greece on a Budget

    Dreaming of pristine Greek beaches and a chance to make a real difference? Here's why June and September are the perfect months to volunteer with sea turtle conservation efforts in Greece!

    Read more

    Sea Turtle Festival for Kids 2024

    Save the date! On Saturday 18 May at 11:00, the ARCHELON Rescue Centre opens its doors to welcome young and old sea turtle friends who want to celebrate, explore, learn, play and travel magically in the Mediterranean Sea. We are waiting for you to strengthen our message for a better and sustainable planet!

    Read more

    A successful year for the International Sea Turtle Symposium

    The International Sea Turtle Symposium concluded triumphantly this March in Pattaya, Thailand, with ARCHELON actively participating.

    Read more

    A Morning Beach Patrol with ARCHELON

    The camera lens of Stefanos and Maria of SteMajourneys caught a rare sight in the early morning: a Loggerhead sea turtle nesting! The volunteers in Chania took action right away to protect the nest.

    Read more

    Protecting sea turtles in Rethymno- Our Ocean, an Ocean of Potential

    The 9th International Conference "Our Ocean", which was held in Athens from April 15 to 17, was successfully completed. ARCHELON had the honor to actively take part in the conference and hosted a side event.

    Read more
  10. OUR NEWS

    Coordination for the protection of sea turtles in Rethymno: Local authorities and tourism businesses join forces

    The meeting, which took place on April 5, 2024, in the building of the Regional Unit of Rethymno, touched upon key issues, such as the observance of conservation measures for the protection of the Loggerhead sea turtle. Given the tourist activity on the nesting beaches, the active participation of the tourism sector in the implementation of the measures is necessary.

    Read more
  11. OUR NEWS

    "Tourists and turtles?" The environmental awareness campaign of ARCHELON spreads to the nesting beaches of the Loggerhead sea turtle

    After the pandemic, ARCHELON - the Sea Turtle Protection Society of Greece - is once again mobilizing on the path to sustainable tourism. The aim of the new campaign is to provide information on the appropriate code of conduct for visitors to all nesting beaches, in cooperation with the tourism sector.

    Read more
  12. OUR NEWS

    LIFE MareNatura - The largest marine biodiversity program in Greece

    Read more
  13. OUR NEWS

    Citizens inform us of sea turtle strandings

    ARCHELON started the effort to record the incidents of dead turtles washing up on the Greek shores in 1992. In recent years there has been an increase in these records which may be due to more of our fellow citizens reporting such incidents. Learn more…

    Read more
  14. OUR NEWS

    Contributing to international developments on sea turtle research and conservation

    In the past, members of ARCHELON were actively involved in the elaboration of the Global Strategy for the Conservation of Marine Turtles, published in 1995, and nowadays three of our collaborators participate in the writing of the revised guidebook “Research and Management Techniques for the Conservation of Sea Turtles”.

    Read more
  15. OUR NEWS

    The Over & Above Awards for 2023

    These are the ARCHELON Over & Above Awards for 2023.

    Read more
1 out of 0
Subscribe to our newsletter!
Learn about our latest actions and find out about our programs and how you can help sea turtles!