In 1994, ARCHELON in co-operation with the Municipality of Glyfada and the financial support of the Environmental Ministry, set up one of the first Sea Turtle Rescue Centres in the Mediterranean, located in Glyfada, near Athens by the seaside (see the map). Its main functions are to receive, treat and rehabilitate injured and sick sea turtles, release them back to the wild and raise public awareness.
The operation and maintenance of the Rescue Centre is based on volunteers. Every year about 60 volunteers contribute to sea turtle treatment, maintenance duties and public awareness.
The Rescue Centre operates throughout the year. The volunteer will be expected to participate in all aspects of work at the Rescue Centre under the supervision of specialized staff. These are the Rescue Network, sea turtle rehabilitation, public awareness, maintenance and data collection. Duties will be allocated by the Rescue and Rehabilitation Officer, usually in accordance with a weekly schedule. Interns share the same duties as the rest of the volunteers. Please note that adult sea turtles are heavy and may weigh up to 80 kgr. You will be shown how to handle them during your training.
- Rescue Network: activities include response to injured sea turtle stranding throughout Greece, collection of injured sea turtles from the airport, train or bus station, or ports. Understandably these activities are not part of the daily routine, but take priority whenever they do occur. Volunteers with an EU driving license might be asked to drive ARCHELON’s car for this purpose.
- Sea turtle rehabilitation: duties include the preparation and administration of food (usually fish) to the turtles, the preparation of tube feed for weak turtles that do not eat on their own, tube feeding those animals, observing and assisting, in some cases, the daily treatments of the animals as determined by the Rescue Network and Rehabilitation Officer and vets (administering medication, cleaning wounds), cleaning/disinfection of the rehabilitation tanks as well as taking biometric data and making behavioral observations. This is one of the main daily activities within the Rescue Centre, since during winter there is an average of 25 to 30 turtles and during summer 35-40 turtles under treatment. Please note that this is a highly physical demanding task.
- Public awareness: activities include providing information to visitors of the Rescue Centre, conducting presentations/tours to organized groups and assisting in public events organized by ARCHELON to promote the Rescue Centre (e.g. publicized sea turtle releases, participation in exhibitions, etc.).
- Maintenance: activities include basic maintenance duties like cleaning the facilities and equipment.
- Data collection: behavioral observations, diving condition of the animals, medical checks (presence and type of feces and urine), taking temperatures of the turtles’ tanks.
Only volunteers that have been officially accepted by ARCHELON can use the project premises.
The Rescue Centre is located in Glyfada, close to Athens (see map Sea Turtle Rescue Centre). It is easily accessible by bus and tram. Volunteers have one day off per week. Athens, the capital of Greece, is a city with many points of interest; rich history, good shopping, tasty food and an amazing nightlife. Volunteers can visit museums and archaeological sites like the Parthenon or the Temple of Poseidon in Sounio. The Centre is located next to the sea thus during summer the volunteers can swim at the beach next to the Centre.
Accommodation is provided by ARCHELON in an apartment in Paleo Faliro, with direct bus and tram connection to Glyfada. The apartment can accommodate at maximum 8 volunteers. There are two bedrooms and volunteers are usually not allocated in the rooms on a gender basis. There is also a kitchen, a bathroom, a living room/dining area and a big balcony. Central heating and Wi-Fi are also available.
Some days of the week, few volunteers have to spend the night at the Rescue Centre, in a train wagon converted into a small bedroom with 4 beds, a kitchen, a toilet and a shower. This wagon can get quite cold in the winter and is heated by air conditioning and electric panels. During summer fans and limited areas with air conditioning can be used for cooling off in excessive heat.
Only volunteers that have been officially accepted by ARCHELON can use the accommodation premises.
Dates, participation fee and other costs
The Volunteer participation fee covers administration and training costs, accident insurance coverage (up to a limit), annual subscription as ARCHELON supporter and accommodation costs.
Once approved, successful applicants will need to pay their volunteer participation fee depending on the dates of participation, as shown in the Overview Table.
Proof of payment needs to be sent to ARCHELON before the volunteer status is confirmed. The time of arrival in the project site needs to be sent by e-mail to the Rescue and Rehabilitation Officer at least 5 working days before a volunteer arrives to take up duties. Each volunteer gets an exclusive ARCHELON “volunteer” T-shirt upon arrival.
A community based system for sharing the food cost is in use by the volunteers with basic food costs around 20€ to 30€ per person/ week. If you want to follow your way, If you want to go your way about food and cooking, 15€ per day would be enough for personal food expenses.
Transportation costs from/to the Sea Turtle Rescue Centre are to be covered by volunteers. You will need to present your passport in order to have a monthly transportation card issued. For a student discount, you will need to present your student card.
There are different options on the ticket that you can purchase. Adult ticket prices are: 1.40€ - ticket valid for 90 minutes for all transportation means (except to/from the airport) and for all destinations in the Athens greater area, 9€ - 5 day ticket, 30€ - monthly ticket. Student prices are: 0.60€ - ticket valid for 90 minutes for all transportation means (except to/from the airport) and for all destinations in the Athens greater area, 9€ - 5 day ticket, 15€ - monthly ticket.
Aksel Berglund, Sweden
Most obviously, I gained knowledge about sea turtles, the environment, how to treat them and the importance of fighting for the protection and conservation of sea turtles. And I’m grateful for learning these, but I also had a lot of experiences that I would never have at my age if I hadn’t been here. For instance, the importance of listening and trusting those around you while sharing the responsibilities for each other.
Aaron McCormick, Ireland
To respond to a rescue call and be responsible for treatment, cleaning and feeding of this wild injured animal was one of the most moving and fulfilling parts of my time with ARCHELON. I would highly recommend to all people with a love for animals and nature to consider volunteering their time with ARCHELON, both in the Field Projects and especially in the Rescue Centre.