Our account of 2020
2020 started strong with preparation for all our activities and very good prospects for the volunteer projects, but the upheavals due to the pandemic were many. Already since March we saw the cancellation of thousands of educational visits / tours to the Rescue Center in Glyfada and the cancellation of participation for about 80% of volunteers from abroad in all projects. Under these circumstances we had to somehow ensure the financial viability of the Society in order to continue our operations.
Difficult real-time decisions had to be made already during the first lockdown. Fund raising was the absolute priority and the monitoring of finances was re- organized. The key decisions taken under these circumstances were the operation of the Rescue Network and the Sea Turtle Rescue Center with whatever means available, as well as the timely start of the monitoring and protection of loggerhead nesting on the nesting beaches.
ARCHELON started implementing measures against the spread of COVID-19 at the Rescue Centre and the central office on 10/3/20. The protocol was adapted accordingly for the nesting beach projects on 22/5/2020 and a few days later it was implemented in the projects of Zakynthos and Kyparissia bay. A couple of weeks later it was possible to start monitoring of nests on the beaches of Crete and southern Peloponnese.
Less people- bigger effort
At the Rescue Center, operations continued throughout the year with the staff, 30 local volunteers and 35 volunteers from abroad, several of whom extended their stay to assist in taking care of the sea turtles there.
- They took care of 52 injured or sick sea turtles, of which 17 had been admitted in previous years and 35 arrived at the Centre in 2020. From these 52 turtles it was possible to rehabilitate and release 21 back to the sea, 10 of which were admitted in 2019. Unfortunately 11 turtles died and 20 are still under treatment.
- 2020 was a year with many nests. A total of 7.600 nests were recorded in a total of 73.8 km of nesting beaches in Zakynthos, Kyparissia bay, Crete and southern Peloponnese. Monitoring and protection of loggerhead nesting was successfully completed for the 37th consecutive year on Zakynthos and south Kyparissia Bay, while on Crete and Lakonikos Bay the monitoring projects are in their third decade.
- The dedicated project teams on nesting beaches included 98 volunteers, 11 seasonal associates and 5 staff members. Local volunteers provided substantial assistance to the Chania and Messara projects in Crete, Koroni and Lakonikos Bay. Former volunteers and Society members joined in again after many years to participate in the monitoring projects of Zakynthos and Kyparissia bay.
- The project in Zakynthos was carried out in collaboration with the Management Body of the National Marine Park of Zakynthos. More than 1800 nests were recorded and around 700 of them were protected this year with the assistance of the Park's staff.
- Around the end of August and during the hatching period, all project teams carried out information campaigns on the reduction of light pollution on nesting beaches in their respective municipalities and Coast Guard units.
- ARCHELON’s commitments for 2020 by the LifeEuroturtles project were carried out successfully. These included monitoring and protection of 750 nests north of the river Neda in Kyparissia bay and an upgrade of the greenhouse at the Rescue Center.
- The study of the movements of male turtles began in the Amvrakikos Gulf with the installation of 3 satellite transmitters in October with funding from MAVA Foundation.
- In 2020 we saw the publication of 7 new scientific papers which can be found on the website as well as of the annual reports on the conservation efforts in the National Marine Park of Zakynthos and in the Nature Protection Area in Kyparissia bay.
- On-site information activities with locals and visitors took place in all projects. Public awareness activities were also carried out at the Rescue Center and the coasts in Attica, as well as at ARCHELON’s seasonal information kiosks and in hotels in Zakynthos, the Peloponnese, Rethymno and Chania.
- Environmental education activities for students took place at the Rescue Center with school visits in the periods January-March and September-October. A few experimental online live tours with students were also conducted.
- The announcements of #turtlechallenges was the antidote to the lockdown mood. The first challenge in March resulted in 17 stories with “sea turtles and Ping-Pong balls”. The second was introduced in May and resulted in 13 drawings ‘what sea turtles like and what they dislike” and the third in December brought us 21 stories “ideas for video scripts at the Rescue Centre”. You can find them on ARCHELON’s facebook page.
We would not have made it without you
We thank all the friends of ARCHELON, from either Greece or abroad, who participated as volunteers, as well as those who responded to our call for immediate financial support. We also thank the Green Fund of the Ministry of Environment and Energy, the MAVA Foundation and the TUI Care Foundation for co- financing specific actions in 2020. We are grateful to the Stavros Niarchos Foundation for its donation, aiming to address the effects of the pandemic. A big thank you also goes to all the companies that stood by the Rescue Center by offering donations of money, goods or services.