Which is the way to the sea?
Think of tiny baby turtles, each about 4,6 cm long and weighing 20 grams, which have just hatched from their nest and become fatally attracted by artificial light. They arrived on the surface at night, or at dawn, after about two months of incubation and a few days of struggling to reach the nest’s surface. They should be guided by the reflection of the stars and the moon on the water or the reflection of the breaking dawn, to their destination – the sea.
Loggerhead hatchlings start their journey at night or early morning, in order to run across the beach while the sand is in comfortable temperature conditions. In the dark, they can also go unnoticed from their bird predators.
Unfortunately, in some beaches, a significant number of them miss out the direction to the sea led by stronger lights from the roads, restaurants, bars or hotels. Instead of the sea waves, they meet the asphalt where they die under the wheels of cars, or they fall down into the drain grates or trenches. They may also get entangled in bushes behind the beach. As they try to find their way to the sea in vain, they lose vital time and energy. Being exposed to the bright sun, they will die of dehydration in a few hours.
Artificial lights located behind the nesting beaches leads to the disorientation of hatchlings.
To mitigate this problem, ARCHELON volunteers take action a few days before the hatching of a nest starts. They create shading with natural material, usually old and new beach mats, so that artificial light shine less on the nest. The shading creates a pathway leading to the sea, so that hatchlings will reach the sea safely. More than half of the nests on Rethymno, Chania, Messara, Lakonikos and Koroni are protected by ARCHELON with shading from artificial lights during the hatching season. You can read more about the protection of nests and its results in 2020 in this link.
Why are we doing this? On the beach, hatchlings must escape natural predators like birds and foxes to make it to the sea. Once in the water, hatchlings are consumed by seabirds and fish. Few survive to adulthood, with estimates ranging from one in 1,000 to one in 10,000.
It is well established that tourism and development, if left unmanaged/ unregulated, have a negative impact on sea turtle nesting beaches. There would be less hatchlings entering the sea each year, and the chances of having adult sea turtles in 15-20 years would be reduced.
It is also well established that plastic marine litter affect the health of sea turtles and that adult turtles are often victims of accidental capture and death in fishing gear. This is why loggerhead sea turtles (Caretta caretta) are considered by IUCN as globally Vulnerable and their subpopulation in the Mediterranean is considered as Conservation Dependent.
ARCHELON, a non-profit environmental NGO has been protecting sea turtle nests and raising public awareness on sea turtle conservation in Greece since 1984.
More information is provided near the main nesting beaches of loggerheads in Greece: You can find ARCHELON volunteers in the following areas:
Information Kiosk on Somolou Square (next to Foskolos cinema, info table at Crystal Beach and turtle spotting boats NEFIS & TUI
Information Kiosk in Kalo Nero
Information Kiosk on Mavrovouni beach in front Ocean Pub & Camping Meltemi
Information Kiosk in front of town hall
Information Kiosk at Venetian Port
Information Kiosk at Old Town Port (opposite the KAM Center of Mediterranean Architecture)
Information Kiosk at entrance of Matala
Visit our webpage: www.archelon.gr
Volunteers help save sea turtles through European Solidarity Corps
Great luck to meet “Ella”, the beautiful fairy, again in Kalo Nero, Kyparissia bay
- OUR NEWS15/09/2023
Lilo, the tiny green turtle, made it back to the sea!
In November 2021 a small green turtle arrived at the ARCHELON Rescue Centre with a very serious head injury. After almost two years of intensive care, one Wednesday in September 2023 he was finally discharged and returned to the sea!
- OUR NEWS17/08/2023
World record of 37 years of reproductive life for a loggerhead sea turtle in Zakynthos, Greece – increased number of nests this summer, says ARCHELON
ARCHELON – the Sea Turtle Protection Society of Greece announces an important outcome of the systematic work of this year's sea turtle nest monitoring team in Zakynthos. Based on their long-term observations, ARCHELON managed to certify a new World Record of reproductive activity for loggerhead turtles.
- OUR NEWS07/08/2023
ATTENTION! Sea turtles are not pets: Do not touch them or feed them!
The Municipality of Eastern Mani and the Port Authorities requested the assistance of ARCHELON to inform beach users in the area of Limeni, near Mani, where 35 new incidents of sea turtle attacks on sea bathers have been recorded during this summer season. These are added to the already long list of 200 such records of previous years found in the nearby Health Center in Areopolis.
- OUR NEWS01/08/2023
Interview with a volunteer: Lea Heinen, Rescue Centre
Interview with a volunteer: Lea Heinen, Rescue Centre Lea shares her experience volunteering at the ARCHELON Sea Turtle Rescue Centre: “I think when a turtle starts to eat after a month of trying, when you can see the improvement or healing of a turtle's injury and when a turtle is released back into the sea, into its natural habitat, into its home - then you know that you are indeed saving turtles”.
- OUR NEWS21/07/2023
Kids Beach Competition 2023: Make your own little sea turtle with natural materials and send us a photo!
Help us spread the message about the protection of sea turtles by making your own baby turtles with natural materials you will find on the beach. Sand, stones, pebbles, shells, seaweed, sticks and whatever else you have available, can be transformed with a little imagination! Take a photo of your work and send it to the ARCHELON Beach Competition.
- OUR NEWS18/07/2023
Paving the way for next steps in conservation of marine turtles in the Mediterranean region
Last week the partner organizations of the project “Conservation of Marine Turtles in the Mediterranean Region” met for the 9th Steering Committee Meeting. The meeting was organized by SPA/RAC in the area of Kyparissia Bay, Greece on the 4th and 5th of July, 2023 in collaboration with ARCHELON.
- OUR NEWS04/07/2023
An offer to EXPERIENCED volunteers: You can now join the beach projects for 2-3 weeks!
The time is just right to join the projects again, even if you have only 2 or 3 weeks of available time. This offer is valid for August, September, October 2023. Apply through our new website and find out more about the dates and places you can join. More…
- OUR NEWS22/06/2023
The nesting season has begun! Learn what you can do if you find sea turtle tracks or nests on the beach
The nesting season for the loggerhead sea turtles has begun. The nests that are made in the areas monitored by ARCHELON and other collaborating groups are already being recorded. However, if you find tracks or nests on other beaches, you can also participate in the effort to record and protect these sporadic nests. Find out why it's important…
- OUR NEWS16/06/2023
A breath away from registering a new world record on the years of known active reproduction of a loggerhead sea turtle is ARCHELON, the Sea Turtle Protection Society of Greece
This is the year when ARCHELON, a nonprofit environmental NGO, is celebrating 40 years of continuous and targeted action to save sea turtles in Greece and the Mediterranean. At the same time, the project teams of ARCHELON are ready to register the longest period of active reproduction known for the Loggerhead sea turtle (Caretta caretta), in case it happens this year!
- OUR NEWS15/06/2023
A Saturday unlike any other - Turtle Festival 2023
ARCHELON invites kids and adults to celebrate the environment and the sea in an exciting way at the "Sea Turtle Festival" on Saturday, May 27 at the Sea Turtle Rescue Centre in the 3rd Marina of Glyfada.
- OUR NEWS07/06/2023
Announcement for all past volunteers of ARCHELON: Shall we meet this September?
Highlight: Hi everyone! This year marks 40 years of ARCHELON’s action for protecting sea turtles in Greece. During these four decades, thousands of volunteers from many countries joined our sea turtle projects and the Rescue Centre to help save the turtles. Let’s meet again this coming September and celebrate the animals we saved during all these years.
- OUR NEWS07/04/2023
Waiting list for schools that want to visit the ARCHELON Rescue Centre
Thousands of Greek students visit the Centre and get informed about the value of protecting the environment through contact with a particularly beloved animal, the sea turtle. "All the available visiting hours until the end of the 2022-2023 school year have been booked, but there is a waiting list that is activated in case of cancellations", says Anna Kontoleon, ARCHELON’s Education Officer. More hours for online tours may be added in May if volunteers become available.
- OUR NEWS28/03/2023
People are supporting wildlife conservation
The donations and "adoptions" made at the Rescue Centre in Glyfada, Attica and at ARCHELON’s field projects in Zakynthos, the Peloponnese and Crete in 2022, reached the amount of €350,000. We did a lot last year thanks to all these people, who also made it possible for us to continue this year.
- OUR NEWS24/03/2023
We learned with deep sadness the passing away of Gail Schofield, a pronounced sea turtle researcher and former ARCHELON volunteer. Read more…
- OUR NEWS20/03/2023
More than half of the rehabilitated sea turtles got released back to the sea in 2022!
The Sea Turtle Rescue Centre of ARCHELON in Glyfada rescues, takes care of and rehabilitates injured sea turtles from all parts of Greece since 1994. More than half of the sea turtles that were under care at the Rescue Centre in 2022 got released back to the sea after reaching full recovery this year! Read more…