My first night survey of this season was on Gerakas beach, in Zakynthos. It is beach that is surrounded by low cliffs and there is fifty meter wooden ramp that leads down to the beach. Tom Backof and I had tracked a turtle to the back of the beach. She hadnʼt attempted to nest yet so we decided to leave her alone. We do this because the turtle is very sensitive in that phase. After 15 minutes, Tom went crawling off to find her. I saw him returning immediately “Kostas, you ʼve got to see this”, he told me. The turtle was sliding down the wooden ramp! We both assumed that the turtle must have climbed at least 25 meters up! Of course, the turtle realized that this was not an appropriate place for her to nest and she returned to the sea. A turtle returning to the sea without nesting is something that happens quite often and she will try again and again until she finds the right spot.

Another night, again at Gerakas beach, me and another volunteer Faye Karavasili spotted a turtle track that went very far at the end of the beach. “I am going to check the turtle to see what she is doing”, I said to Faye and I started crawling. I crawled to the back of the beach, where the vegetation started but I still couldnʼt spot the turtle. Nevertheless I could hear some strange noises coming from behind a bush. Going a little bit closer where the sand slopes were steeper I saw something that surprised me. The turtle was on top of the bush. She then moved on, fell from the bush, flipped over once and slid down the slope! “I saw these tracks in the morning but I couldnʼt explain them”, Jack Suss, morning survey leader the following morning said to me. All the other volunteers were astonished when I told them the story, as it had never happened to them before. And these incidents happened during only two nights, some would wonder how many strange things must have happened during these thousands of years that the sea turtles have been coming to Zakynthos to nest.

When a sea turtle lays her last eggs, the next thing she does is to cover the egg chamber and then camouflage her tracks. More specifically she flicks dry sand behind her, with her strong front flippers. One night, I was behind a turtle that had finished nesting and she was covering her eggs. I was checking her carapace for injuries and then the turtle started camouflaging by throwing sand directly into my eye, totally blinding me! Discussing with the other volunteers I found out that the same thing had happened to them as well. Dobro Debska, one volunteer, was telling me that she was so excited while she was watching the turtle that she had her mouth open and as a result the sand from the camouflage went into her mouth! The following nights I decided to be more careful when the turtle is in that phase. It wouldnʼt be too much to say that watching this ancient creatureʼs effort to reproduce is the closest I have ever been to nature! At the same time you learn to respect the animal and more generally the nature and that provides you with extra motivation to volunteer for its survival

Kostas Papafitsoros ARCHELON volunteer the three last years in Zakynthos, maybe the best in his life so far



    Sea turtles in the Greek wetlands of international importance

    World Wetlands Day is celebrated every year on February 2. These vulnerable areas of the planet are a refuge for migratory birds and other wildlife species, including sea turtles. ARCHELON is present in wetlands that play an important role for sea turtles, such as the Amvrakikos Gulf.

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    Why are ARCHELON’s projects international?

    ARCHELON’s sea turtle conservation projects are organized with the valuable contribution of volunteers who come to Greece every year not just from Europe but from more distant places such as South Korea, Australia, and Colombia. Speaking English while carrying out fieldwork or public awareness activities as well as when interacting with each other in the campsites is essential to the projects.

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    ARCHELON has been running a special hospital for sea turtles with tanks and impressive old train wagons for 30 years in Glyfada

    Turtles with IV and bandages, rehabilitation and recovery tanks, special environmental enrichment equipment, recovery greenhouses, and… renovated train wagons! The hospital for injured and sick turtles that ARCHELON has set up in the 3rd marina of Glyfada, next to the sea, is certainly something out of the ordinary.

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    What happened in the world of ARCHELON in 2023?

    A world record for reproductive life for a sea turtle and 40 years of ARCHELON’s actions for protecting sea turtles are some of the moments we celebrated together this year. So, what happened in the world of ARCHELON in 2023? Here are some highlights of the past year.

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    Assuming responsibility for the environment brings more meaning into our lives

    “ARCHELON is an opportunity, not only for the animals and the ecosystems, but also for us who participate in it and for the society in which we operate”. Thomas Arapis, President and founding member of ARCHELON, talks about the efforts of the organization and about what he aspires for the future.

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    Forty years later: the world of ARCHELON has expanded

    Thomas Arapis, President and founding member of the Association gives the current coordinates of ARCHELON. "We encounter many turtles in our daily activities, and even more people, many more people actually, who help us. Amongst them are the people who work for us, they stand out for they represent the Association out there, through thick and thin".

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    19 Environmental NGOs ask the Greek Government not to consent to a change in the wolf protection status in Europe

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    Messages of love from the world turtle community!

    Celebrating ARCHELON's 40th Anniversary we have received warm messages from the turtle community worldwide

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    When the past becomes a lighthouse for the future

    Thomas Arapis, the President of ARCHELON and one of its founding members talks about the quality and values, and the people who marked the setting up and subsequent action of ARCHELON. “Dimitris Margaritoulis taught us, not only the methodology for monitoring and protecting them, but also what it means to organize tasks, take responsibility, work as a team, evaluate our course and cooperate with each other”, he says.

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  10. OUR NEWS

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

    Jessica Van Damme who volunteered at the ARCHELON Sea Turtle Rescue Centre for 6 weeks in 2023, talks about what she learned while taking care of sea turtles with human caused injuries.

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  11. OUR NEWS

    Notes of a volunteer (Part 1): Jessica Van Damme was at the Rescue Centre

    “During my 6-week stay, there were more than 30 injured sea turtles being treated at the Rescue Centre. Seven of them were successfully released, but, during the same period there were five new arrivals – all turtles with human-caused injuries. We, humans, are their biggest threat!”, writes Jessica.

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  12. OUR NEWS

    Summer 2024: Come back to sea turtle conservation as a leader!

    Joining or returning to ARCHELON’s sea turtle projects as a Field Leader will give you the opportunity to lead specific activities as well as train and help others in the projects. These positions provide a higher level of experience in nature conservation/ environment protection, as well as improved communication and leadership skills. Hurry and apply now! Only a limited number of experienced and skilled volunteers are selected to serve as leaders in each project.

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  13. OUR NEWS

    The establishment of the “Amvrakikos Alliance”

    The Alliance's vision in collaboration with the local community is to highlight the unique ecological value and the natural and cultural heritage of Amvrakikos, for the most effective management, restoration, and protection of its ecosystems and biodiversity.

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  14. OUR NEWS

    Kids Beach Competition 2023: Turtles made of natural materials that stole our hearts!

    The little friends of ARCHELON who participated in the Kids Beach Competition 2023 formed turtles from pebbles, sand, water, rocks, sticks, leaves and shells, spreading the message of protecting sea turtles on the various beaches of Greece. Angeliki's (7 years old) little turtle on top of the big rock stole 694 hearts and became the winner!

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  15. OUR NEWS

    The Field Leaders of 2023 and their role

    Matthew from the UK, Noha from France, David from the Netherlands, Aris from Greece started one summer as volunteers knowing little about turtles and their protection. Their experience made them return to the conservation projects as Field Leaders to take on more responsibilities, as trainers and mentors for new volunteers.

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