Located at the southern tip of the Peloponnese peninsula, Lakonikos Bay is an important nesting area for the loggerhead sea turtle (Caretta caretta), with an average number of more than 200 nests recorded annually. Since 1985, ARCHELON has been running a field program in the area to record the sea turtle nesting activity and to raise public awareness about the turtles and the importance of protecting the nesting beaches.The program covers almost 25 km of beaches around the town of Gytheio and next to the Evrotas estuaries. Gytheio is a beautiful town, characterized by its picturesque port, neoclassical houses, narrow, uphill alleys, stone-paved streets, and marble stairs. The area is famous for some of the most dramatic and varied scenery in the Peloponnese, much of it still wonderfully underexplored!
From late May to late September every year, volunteers of all ages and backgrounds from all over the world participate in ARCHELON’s sea turtle conservation Lakonikos Bay project. The activities vary depending on the season (i.e. nesting season: late-May through mid-August, and hatching season: mid-July through late September), and include the following:
- ‘Patrolling’ the beaches every day (Morning observation), during which loggerhead reproductive activity is recorded.
- Protecting the nests in situ (with ‘fencing’) from both human activity and/or predation by mammals, and relocation of nests, when necessary.
- Constructing special ‘shading’ structures to guide hatchlings to the sea in areas where artificial light (from roads, shops, etc) may disorient the hatchlings when they emerge from the nest.
- Excavating nests after the hatchlings have emerged, in order to estimate the hatching success.
- Increasing public awareness of both tourists and local residents by operating a seasonal information station in Mavrovouni village, manning information tables, and organizing presentations at tourist facilities.
- “Patrolling” the beaches during the day to raise bathers’ awareness of the importance of the nesting beaches.
- Driving, maintaining equipment and the camp and its facilities (i.e. cleaning, etc.) and various jobs such as painting and carpentry. Artistic skills such as drawing and photography can also be quite useful.
- Following the protocol for dealing with injured or dead sea turtles, if necessary.
During your free time, there are several places of both natural and cultural interest that are definitely worth visiting! All the Mani area (i.e. the capital city of Areopoli, Limeni, Oitilo Vathia, Cape Tainaro) with its forbidding tower houses, stone villages and Byzantine chapels, is impressive, and the area has an eventful history. A visit to Mani can be combined with a visit to the famous Diros caves (located less than an hour away from Gytheio), where the magic of the colours and the shapes formed by stalactites and stalagmites create a unique spectacle as you travel along the underground river in a gondola-like boat.
Travelling east for a drive of about two hours, you will reach the well-preserved medieval island-fortress town of Monemvasia. You can wander through the cobbled streets (where you can see the home of the famous Greek poet Yiannis Ritsos) and experience what it was like living within a walled city, or enjoy the light-colored sandy beaches and the blue-green waters of the very popular Elafonisos island. If you travel towards the modern city of Sparta,the emblematic archaeological site of Mystras offers an exceptional example of a well-preserved, fortified late-Byzantine city and a very beautiful landscape.
Volunteers will live in the campground designated by ARCHELON for the duration of their participation in the project. The ARCHELON Research Field Station in Lakonikos is a well-organized campground situated in an olive grove at Mavrovouni beach, located 4 km outside the town of Gytheio.
Accommodation costs are included in the Participation Fee. Volunteers must be prepared to take part in a communal life, and to live and work in both populated and secluded areas, often as members of small teams and usually under harsh conditions. Although relevant experience is not necessary, the ability to live and co-operate with people of different cultures and backgrounds is essential. Camp ground Facilities:
- Hot water showers
- Kitchen with basic equipment
- a taverna (restaurant)
- swimming pool
- self-service washing machines and dryers (low cost ~ €4)
- a very warm and friendly atmosphere.
- Within the campground, there is an area that is used exclusively by the ARCHELON volunteers and contains all the equipment and facilities needed for daily life.
ARCHELON is constantly trying to improve living conditions for volunteers, but the responsibility and the effort of each volunteer is needed to maintain and run the campsite.
Dates, participation fee and other costs
Sea turtles come into the bay to nest in early May, together with the first tourists visiting these beaches. The first team will be expected to kick off the project and the ARCHELON Field Station on the 26th of May. Monitoring, nest protection and public awareness activity will get busier every day up to mid-June.
From mid-June to about mid-August, everything escalates: final number of nests is reached, numbers of visitors on the beaches go up fast and reach their peak, and first hatchlings are out. A higher number of volunteers is expected in this busy period.
From mid-August to end of September hundreds of hatchlings reach to the sea with the help of volunteers and this an excellent time for public awareness and conservation work combined. The Field Station and the project are closed around the end of September.
Participation is arranged in full weeks, each to be calculated as 7 days from the date of taking up duties (e.g. if starting on a Tuesday, last day of duties will be Monday). The arrival date to the project site is the day before taking up duties. The departure day from the project site is the day after the last day of duties.
Once approved, successful applicants will need to pay their volunteer participation fee depending on the dates of participation, as shown in the Overview Table. Fees are applied as shown in the Overview Table of Participation fees and the cancellation policy and policy for the change of participation dates can be seen here.
Volunteer participation fees cover the cost of accommodation, administration, training and accident insurance coverage (up to a limit) as well as the annual subscription to ARCHELON.
The participation fee is paid once (in a single payment i.e. no partial payments are accepted) and proof of payment needs to be sent to ARCHELON before the volunteer status is confirmed.
- Greek speakers are welcome and a specific number of them will be accepted with a reduced volunteer participation fee under the same rules & cancelation policy.
- You will need to be in the project one day before your first day of participation and you can stay one day after the last day of participation in the project.
- The time of arrival needs to be sent by e-mail to the Volunteer coordinator at least 5 working days before a volunteer arrives to take up duties.
- Each volunteer gets an exclusive ARCHELON “volunteer” T-shirt upon arrival. ARCHELON is not in a position to offer financial assistance. Volunteers are expected to cover their travel and personal costs along with their food expenses.
- Because of the communal lifestyle, volunteers usually share living expenses, estimated at around €25-€30 per week. Anyone who does not wish to participate in the communal arrangement can estimate their expenses at about €15 per day.
- In case of an internship, after submitting your on-line application, please inform the Volunteers Officer (firstname.lastname@example.org) of the requirements of the University well in advance and preferably before the end of February. Please also note that no scientific data from this project can be used for any report you may have to write.