24/01/2024

Why are ARCHELON’s projects international?

For 40 years now ARCHELON has been protecting and monitoring the reproduction and feeding grounds of sea turtles in Greece. This could not have been achieved without the irreplaceable contribution of the 500 volunteers who come from all over the world and take part in the 8 sea turtle conservation protection projects at the nesting beaches.

Below is a chart that shows the different nationalities of the volunteers who took part in ARCHELON’s projects during the years 2020 to 2023. The largest percentage of volunteers were from France (35.9%), United Kingdom (20.9%), Germany (11.5%) and Greece (10.7%). But it is not just the nationalities with the most participation numbers that matter. Our joy is even greater when we welcome volunteers from other destinations, often far away. "Other" nationalities in the chart include the countries of Australia, Austria, Canada, China, Czech Republic, Cyprus, Netherlands, Finland, Ireland, Colombia, Costa Rica, Italy, Luxembourg, Poland and Portugal.

Volunteers nationalities.png

But why are the projects of ARCHELON International? The answer to that is simple: marine turtles are species that migrate to their wintering, feeding, and nesting habitats across national jurisdictions and international waters. The threats they face include overfishing, plastic pollution, climate change, and loss of nesting habitat to coastal tourism development, which are all related to pressures mostly beyond national borders.

Inviting people from all over the world to join the projects helps demonstrate that the turtles nesting in Greece are a part of the global and Mediterranean natural heritage. “As the sea turtle nesting beaches are under pressure from tourism development, it is important to influence hotel owners and local communities in favor of the turtles. Volunteers not only record and protect the nests, but they also help inform and engage tourists, who influence the local economies.”, says Aliki Panagopoulou, the Research Coordinator of ARCHELON.

A simple, but necessary, rule for all the ARCHELON's Field Stations is that everyone must communicate in English. “The most important requirement for volunteers who would like to join the ARCHELON projects is to know and speak English at all times. By doing this, everyone can work together on the project, talk to tourists in the kiosks, make presentations in hotels, and, most importantly, no one feels left out” says the Volunteers officer, Fryni Papanikolaou.

ARCHELON's volunteers doing a public awareness shift in the ARCHELON information kiosks in Kyparissia Bay and Laganas Bay

Speaking in a different language than your native, even with people from your own country, helps you to get out of your comfort zone and think things from a different perspective. “It's common for volunteers to be shy and hesitant to speak English in the beginning. But already within a couple of days, volunteers see a huge improvement in their ability to speak English and a boost in their confidence”, adds Fryni. Needless to say, native English speakers usually help to bring together the whole team of a project.

volunteers happy.png

Speaking English while carrying out fieldwork or public awareness activities and interacting with each other in the campsites is essential to the projects. So, if you plan to come to the sea turtle conservation projects for the nesting season of 2024, brush off your English- if you’re not a native speaker- and make sure you are ready to be part of an international ARCHELON team!

Check our volunteering projects here Have you ever wondered what is happening in one of ARCHELON’s sea turtle protection projects? Get a taste by watching our short film

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