The Conference in Morocco through the eyes of Anna Margaritouli
The 7th Mediterranean Conference on Sea Turtles was hosted in the coastal town of Tetouan, Morocco. More than 120 delegates participated from most Mediterranean countries, and also from America, Britain, Belgium, etc. Eight workshops were held, 37 posters were placed, and 92 oral presentations were given. There were also two key note plenary speeches delivered by two widely respected ‘turtlers’. Earl Possardt, from the US Fish and Wildlife Service spoke on the first day and our own Dimitris Margaritoulis on the second.
Earl's speech was on ‘Sea Turtle Conservation in the World’ and had a philosophical standpoint. ‘When we start doing something, it's good to ask ourselves why we're doing it’, he said. He once asked his students ‘Why do we protect the turtles’? One said because the turtles had to play their part in the ecosystem. Another said because turtles have rights on this planet. A third one said ‘We are trying to protect them. I do not know if we will succeed, but in the process, we become better people’! And with this phrase alone I was happy for the whole trip.
The second plenary speech was given by Dimitris Margaritoulis and it was titled ‘Sea Turtles in the Mediterranean: Personal Reflections’. ‘We didn't go to the turtles’, he said, ‘the turtles came to us’. He talked about the beginning of his sea turtle work, the willing assistance he had from American ‘giants’ of turtle science such as Archie Carr and his mentor Jack Frazier. He pointed out that the Mediterranean Sea was not always considered a separate marine entity for sea turtles, but rather just another gulf of the Atlantic. He reviewed the six previous Mediterranean Conferences and their great contribution to the development of Mediterranean cooperation. He criticized researchers who arrive ‘parachuting’ on the beaches and conduct research without interest in the local communities. He considers as an optimistic message the fact that so many dedicated young scientists work together, putting political and other differences aside. The audience stood up and applauded for at least 3 minutes. Some were moved. At one point he also called me to the podium and said, ‘We would be nothing without our wives’.
The conference takes place every three years. Each time the best presentation by a student is awarded and the president of the next conference is elected, in the country of whom, the next conference is held. The President of the Conference, Professor Mustapha Aksissou has been trying for many years to bring the conference to Morocco his homeland. He had significant help from his wife, Vafee, and his colleagues at the University. The student awarded was the ever-smiling Hamed Mallat from Tunisia. Aliki Panagopoulou from ARCHELON, was elected the next President, bringing the 8th Mediterranean Conference in Greece in 2025. So, plenty of work awaits us. I hope we organize it perfectly!
During the trip we had the opportunity to wander a bit in the streets of Tetouan, looking for the archaeological museum. From what we saw it seemed like a nice city, with majestic buildings, gardens and parks. We also saw a bit of the picturesque Medina, the old town, with its narrow streets. On the last night we went for dinner at a restaurant with live music. Although alcohol was completely absent, we had a great time as almost all the delegates danced or jumped to oriental rhythms.
In the end, despite the inconvenience of the trip (13 hours on the way and 16 on the way back), I think it was worth it. As for the conclusions on the Conference... I feel that, the work that has been done on sea turtles globally is so multi-faceted, well-documented and organized that it is disproportionate and unfair to the other animals! It is a shame, though, that the only time the word "education" came up was by ARCHELON, in the presentation of Yiannis Chalkias, as he also mentioned himself...
Environmental education is a key element of ARCHELON’s work through the years. Learn more about our educational activities here.
A successful year for Loggerhead nesting in Koroni- thanks to all our friends
Tom Scott, the first volunteer of the ARCHELON Sea Turtle Rescue Centre comes back for a visit!
- OUR NEWS02/02/2024
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.
- OUR NEWS24/01/2024
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.
- OUR NEWS17/01/2024
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.
- OUR NEWS05/01/2024
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.
- OUR NEWS21/12/2023
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.
- OUR NEWS20/12/2023
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".
- OUR NEWS20/12/2023
19 Environmental NGOs ask the Greek Government not to consent to a change in the wolf protection status in Europe
- OUR NEWS15/12/2023
Messages of love from the world turtle community!
Celebrating ARCHELON's 40th Anniversary we have received warm messages from the turtle community worldwide
- OUR NEWS14/12/2023
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.
- OUR NEWS12/12/2023
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.
- OUR NEWS04/12/2023
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.
- OUR NEWS30/11/2023
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.
- OUR NEWS23/11/2023
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.
- OUR NEWS16/11/2023
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!
- OUR NEWS15/11/2023
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.