The Koulouris family with two generations of “turtlers” in Zakynthos

ANTONIS, regular “turtler” from 1982 to 1990, wrote:

‘Cars fascinated me since I was a little boy. My dream was to become a mechanical engineer, to study how cars work and make them better. By 17, I knew everything about CITROEN cars and my favorite model was 2CV. As my grades did not allow me to study engineering back then, I ended up studying Biology in the University of Thessaloniki. It was not my first choice, but I made the effort, which brought me an awareness of environmental issues and an interest in Mediterranean ecosystems.


Through this path I started doubting the worship of technological developments. By 20, I bought my first 2CV, an anti-automobile, and I joined ARCHELON’s project in Zakynthos as volunteer. Together with fellow volunteers Telis Kotitsas and Nikos Mekesis, we spent these summers of the 80’s with light minds, love for nature & the sea turtles and the dream of a Marine Park in Laganas. Our field work was on the nesting beaches, mostly Sekania, where we monitored the sea turtle population and protected the nests. We met many others, Greek and foreign volunteers, all of them environmentally aware at an international level.

Our adventures with the boat, the locals, my 2CV, the sea turtles, the volunteers became the bed time stories for my daughter Margarita and my son Themistocles. I was telling them these stories every single night.’

MARGARITA, his daughter, wrote

‘Sea turtles have been a part of my life for as long as I remember myself. The stories my father was telling us about Zakynthos made the sea turtles special and exciting to me. Our favorite bed time story was “Little Caretta caretta and the old Volkswagen” which describes in the simplest of ways what is happening in the bay of Laganas. Our mother, who is a school teacher, always tried- and still does- to get her pupils engaged with these magnificent animals informing about the threats to their survival. We were very lucky, my brother and I, to have been exposed to an awareness on environmental issues at such an early age. None of us has followed up with studies on Biology, but we do care about nature.


Last summer, at the age of 21, I decided to make a new step in discovering the world and myself. I volunteered in ARCHELON’s project in Zakynthos, all by myself, without a friend or acquaintance. In this project, I have lived three unforgettable weeks, maybe the most fulfilling of my life so far. Time was too short to get the whole experience, however, I got a taste from every aspect of the project, from public awareness to nesting beach protection, up to meeting the turtles in Sekania.

I can say with certainty that the work of volunteers is crucial for the success of nesting every summer and the conservation of the species as a whole. As for me, Margarita? Heat, fatigue, cold water in the shower or whatever else seemed to bother me just disappeared when the feeling emerged: the feeling that appears when you see a female turtle laying its eggs or a hatchling reaching the sea. I felt as part of a process of creation that I could never imagine before. I made real friends who live at the other end of the world and I cannot wait to meet them again next summer, same place.


I had the opportunity to experience the reality of my childhood’s bed time stories, as told by my father, and what this means to me cannot be described in words.‘



    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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