ARCHELON’s Monitoring Supervisor talks about his role
Marine biologist Gonçalo J. Lourenço is the monitoring supervisor of ARCHELON’s field projects. Born in Lisbon, he moved to the UK in 2009. He did his Master’s on Marine Environmental Protection and is currently living and working in Wales, UK. He is happy to be a team member of the Zakynthos project for some weeks during the COVID-19 summer. Read his story about sea turtles and his current affiliation with ARCHELON.
“I first volunteered with ARCHELON for two months in Zakynthos in 2012 and then, of course I had to come back for another two months in 2013. In 2014 I took a field leader post as Monitoring Assistant in Zakynthos and stayed there from May to October. In 2015 I was the Monitoring Leader in Zakynthos for the full season. During my years in the field (2012-2016) I must have tagged over 200 turtles, but now, as monitoring supervisor, my role is different.
The invitation to become ARCHELON’s Monitoring Supervisor came in February 2016 and it is still my current affiliation with the Society. It is a non-pay position, which I hold wholeheartedly because I am a member of the ARCHELON family. I work with people I appreciate, contributing to the efforts of hundreds of volunteers who collect data every year on the beaches, aiming to protect our common environment.
As part of my new role I spent the whole 2016 nesting season in the summer projects. Keeping my base on Zakynthos, I visited and spent extensive periods of time in all core nesting projects of ARCHELON in Greece, which was a fascinating experience. Lakonikos Bay, Kyparissia Bay and Koroni in the Peloponnese are really unique places, and the projects there face different challenges. Of course, I got to know the nesting beaches/ sectors on Crete as well. My visits to Rethymno, Chania and Messara are always very constructive.
A big part of my role since 2016 is to train Monitoring Field Leaders for their tasks both on the beach and at the office. There are usually 13 Field Leaders across the nesting beach projects of ARCHELON throughout Greece that submit their databases every 2 weeks. My job is to perform quality checks to ensure the protocols are being administered correctly. I, then, provide the teams with feedback on their submission and give further training, where needed. Final quality checks are performed to the databases at the end of the season and possible errors are discussed and if needed corrected. Until these quality checks are satisfactory, reproduction data will remain “provisional”.
My position works as an important liaison between fieldwork and the Scientific Committee of ARCHELON. With them I discuss issues about monitoring and protection of nests and we decide on actions to be taken in this respect. We work to adapt our protocols to changes in turtle activity on the beaches, according to international standards.”
Last Sunday, alongside their daily tasks, Gonçalo and Nikoletta Sidiropoulou, the Zakynthos Project Officer of ARCHELON, also a marine biologist, found the time to review with the rest of the team a comprehensive induction on recording all types of sea turtle tracks. “It is always useful to check and update our training material. We are sure ARCHELON will keep welcoming new people in the projects in the years to come” said Gonçalo. “People should join ARCHELON’s projects as long as we keep COVID-19 out ” added Nikoletta smilingly.