Thanks to volunteer help and public support, “Eleuthir-Leon” is back in the sea swimming free

‘Did you hear that dad? You should mind the turtles when you dive!’ a child advised its scuba diver father. The family had just been informed that they were visiting a nesting beach and that the waters were home to the loggerhead sea turtle.

“Eleuthir-Leon” is one of the lucky ones: firstly because he was found and secondly because he was immediately taken to the ARCHELON Rescue Centre for treatment. On 11th July dozens of holidaymakers were given the opportunity to watch him make his trip back to the sea which has been his home for all these years. We now hope that continued public support and mobilisation will keep him coming back to these waters for the years to come.

“Eleuthir-Leon” went through so much, but he finally did it. As his name suggests, he pulled through bravely and was eventually set free.

Over the centuries, sea turtles have been the inspiration for myths and legends in many cultures, a favourite material for storytellers, as well as a symbol for wisdom and prudence due to their longevity. One of the earliest ancient Greek coins bears the carved image of a Caretta-caretta sea turtle, while a Hindu legend tells the tale of how the Earth rests on the backs of four elephants that stand on the shell of a turtle and travel on an infinite sea. According to the myth, if the turtle dies the elephants will lose their balance and the Earth will perish. The moral of the story is that the survival of all species is the key to the planet’s ecological balance.

By releasing a sea turtle after its recovery, ARCHELON seeks to help the animal return to its natural habitat. What is more, such events take place in public so that people can experience the moment, realise the significance of the species in the chain of life and join the effort to protect it.

ARCHELON would like to thank Grecotel Hotel and Resorts for their kind contribution: by adopting “Eleuthir-Leon” for these six months they covered his treatment and transport costs. Special thanks go to the Caramel Grecotel Boutique Resort for hosting the event and giving locals, visitors and school students a warm welcome. Furthermore ARCHELON would like to thank the Rethymno Municipal Council represented by Mayor George Marinakis and Counsellor Thodoris Ninou, the Regional Unit of Rethymno represented by Mr. Manos Nikoloudakis member of the Department for the Environment and Water Resources, as well as the port authorities who also attended the event. Finally, the presence of Mr. Nicholas Stampolidis, Archaeology Professor at the University of Crete and initiator of the Museum of Ancient Eleutherna was a great honour for us.

After months of treatment in a protected indoor facility, a sea turtle touches the water again and this is a precious and moving moment, full of powerful emotions that bring tears to the eyes and smiles to the faces. It is the moment the turtle has been anticipating and which our friends and volunteers have been waiting for while looking after each one of the rehabilitated turtles.

For my part, I hope that everyone has the opportunity to enjoy this experience of a lifetime; catch a glimpse of the turtle as it takes a breath, then dives into this deep blue sea and is gone for good, embarking on new adventures.

Note: ‘Eleuthir’ is an ancient Greek name closely related with the word ‘eleftheria’ which means ‘freedom’.

Information: Athanasia Nikolopoulou, Crete Program Coordinator, Tel.: +30 6937352379



    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.

    Read more

    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.

    Read more

    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.

    Read more

    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.

    Read more

    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.

    Read more

    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".

    Read more

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

    Read more

    Messages of love from the world turtle community!

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

    Read more

    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.

    Read more
  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.

    Read more
  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.

    Read more
  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.

    Read more
  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.

    Read more
  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!

    Read more
  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.

    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!