Since 1983, ARCHELON has been conducting annual summer field projects in the area, aiming to record data relating to the turtles’ nesting activity as well as protecting the nests. The bay of Laganas, in the south part of the island, is an area of outstanding natural beauty with crystal blue waters, sandy beaches and wooded hills. There are 6 nesting beaches in the bay, with total length of 5,5 km, where the largest breeding population of the loggerhead sea turtle (Caretta caretta) in the Mediterranean lays an average of 1200 nests laid every year.
The National Marine Park of Zakynthos was established in 1999, following a persistent campaign initiated by ARCHELON and supported by several organizations. Within the Park, Sekania- the beach with the highest density of sea turtle nests- is designated as strict nature reserve. The sea turtle nesting beaches of Marathonissi, Kalamaki (from east of Laganas to Chrystal), Dafni and Gerakas, are designated as nature protection sites. The marine area of Laganas Bay is designated as a nature protection area where specific regulations for the protection of the sea turtle population are in force.
From early May to mid-October every year, volunteers of all ages and backgrounds from all over the world participate in ARCHELON’s sea turtle conservation program in Zakynthos. Since 2000 monitoring of nesting activity is carried out in collaboration with the Park’s Management Body.
Activities occur in all beaches and vary depending on the season (i.e. nesting season: mid-May through mid-August and hatching season: mid-July through late September), and include the following:
During your free time there are plenty of things you can do on the island: spend time in the town of Zakynthos enjoying the spacy squares, the coffee shops, and the delicious food, majestic churches and museums.
You can also make excursions to beautiful natural monuments as the caves of Keri, explore the giant olive trees and visit the beautiful Monastery of Anafonitria. Or you can just swim and enjoy the blue sea in numerous places.
Volunteers will live in the campground designated by ARCHELON for the duration of their participation in the Project. The ARCHELON field research station is based in a private camp ground in Kalitero near the town of Zakynthos.
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.
Sea turtles come into the bay to nest in early May, together with the first tourists visiting these beautiful beaches. The first team will be expected to kick off the project and the ARCHELON Field Station on the 8th 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, first hatchlings are out. Higher numbers of volunteers are required for most of this busy period.
From mid-August to October, thousands 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 by the last team in the mid of October.
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.
Becoming a “conservationist” - Eight years with sea turtles, a tent and a wonderful team.
I would like to say a big thank you to everyone who has made the past eight years the most amazing experience of my life and helped me to learn, to grow and to love every single day of it: My project leaders for being my mentors and my inspiration, my fellow field leaders for being great friends, the staff of ARCHELON for support and advice, the people of Zakynthos for their helpfulness and hospitality, and all previous volunteers for motivation and support. And finally, to ARCHELON as an organization, that believes anyone can participate in the protection of the environment, independent of their background, their age, their job or education. All of you will always have a place in my heart.
Rike Stramm, Germany
First time volunteering
I had always wanted to do some work in the field of conservation and this was my first real experience. I arrived on base camp in Zakynthos project in September of 2016 and was pleasantly surprised to receive such a warm welcome. But, it was the evening of my second day that I knew with 100% certainty that I was going to be back. Fast forward to 2017 and my mind was made up. Thankfully, I can tell you without hesitation that my time in ARCHELON was nothing less than amazing. One of the best decisions of my life! As far as I have seen, many people call it a perspective-changing or even life-changing experience. I attended the Zakynthos Field Project as a volunteer from August until its end in mid-October. My only regret is not getting there sooner!
Aaron McCormick, Ireland