Turtle conservation

Project name:

Archelon The Sea Turtle Protection Society of Greece

Project purpose:

Turtle conservation

Project activities:

  • animal interaction

  • animal rehabilitation

  • community awareness

  • data collection/analysis

  • habitat restoration/management

  • teaching

Marine

Greece

Europe

Weekly cost (approx USD):

$

200

Direct benefits you gain:

  • cultural integration

  • field research skills

  • remote scenic location

Noteworthy conservation points:

  • publishes peer-reviewed science

  • publishes work

Accommodation:

Communal camping area

Requirements:

Facilities:

cooking facilities, electricity, local shops, nearby medical facilities, refillable drinking water, western toilet, hot and cold showers, wifi

Details of the day-to-day life on the project:

Volunteer fees are not paid monthly but are  one off  'participation fees' regardless of volunteer duration. Fees vary from $398 - 682 depending on the project you chose and the month.

*The price listed for weekly fees is estimated using the most expensive participation fee (Amvrakikos $600) for 4 weeks, with $30 a week for food. Volunteers choosing turtle nesting projects (Chania, Zakynthos, Messara, Rethymno, Koroni, Laknonikos or Kyparrisia) will cost considerably less.

 

General: All staff and volunteers do the same roles essentially. Morning surveys are daily and begin at sunrise. You walk along a ~2km section of beach and record all turtle activity (e.g. tracks) as well as collecting data about nest dimensions/location and protecting each nest. Night surveys happen during peak nesting season (June and July). You walk the beaches with no lights and look for turtles emerging from the water to lay their eggs. You record data (e.g. carapace length and width, health of flippers, previous tags) as well as marking the nest for morning survey teams. Volunteers and staff may learn to tag nesting turtles also. Fundraising is a huge part of Archelon, which is why it's a relatively cheap project compared to many others. Presentations, talks and community events are held regularly to raise awareness and funds for the project.

How long can I stay?

When does the project run?

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Reviews & ratings

Karolina Z

I volunteered for Archelon, in Kyparissia in the summer of 2016. I was drawn to Archelon as I wanted to gain some conservation experience but couldn't afford most of the volunteering opportunities abroad. Archelon was incredibly affordable because it relies on the work of volunteers. I paid something around 300 Euros to stay in a lovely campsite with other volunteers for 6 weeks, and paid 15 Euros per week into a pot which was then used to do a weekly food shop for everyone.
The work included morning surveys to find turtle tracks, protect nests and gather general monitoring data. In the afternoon we would go out onto the beach and build shelters around the nests to protect them from light pollution. During the night, we would take part in "boxing" shifts, where we placed boxes over nests that were due to hatch, checked them every hour and then released any hatchlings in a non-light polluted area of the beach.
Overall, it was an amazing experience and I would love to participate again.

Volunteer

Still one of the best experiences of my life

Harriet T

Firstly, the project is very cheap compared to most other conservation projects. There is no 'conservation company' pocketing any money from your payment. You pay on site for your food, which is essentially however much you want. Vegans pay considerably less (about £15 a week). All cooking is communal, and it's one of the volunteer shifts!

The actual monitoring is physically intense. You're walking along the beaches in very hot weather, with grids and buckets and tape measures. You track and record the movements of nesting turtles, find their nests, GPS, collect data, and protect each nest. This takes about 15-20 minutes for each nest, and some beaches in peak season will have over 40!

Night surveys are incredible. You are on silent and beautiful beaches, underneath the stars. You walk along in darkness (no lights) and wait for turtles to emerge and nest. You again record data on the health of the turtle (carapace checks, length of carapace, are there previous tags on flippers?) and trained volunteers/staff may tag turtles that have yet to be tagged. Night surveys are awe inspiring. There is no large group of people taking photos of a turtle, it's just 3-4 volunteers.

Other shifts include making things for other monitoring activities such as shading and boxing (shading is when we shade nests that are affected by light pollution, to encourage hatchlings to reach the sea, boxing is when we put specially constructed boxes on nests located in areas of high light pollution, which we check on hourly during hatching season, and take hatchlings to dark areas so that they can naturally reach the sea). All shading and boxing is made by volunteers, and they are so important for increasing the hatchling to sea success.

Fundraising is also a massive part of this NGO, and it's also a really great way to engage locals and tourists. We do presentations and talks in hotels, restaurants and on the beaches, and we also do public excavations of nests and hatchling walks. As Archelon doesn't ask for high volunteer fees, it receives very little money from volunteers. Many conservation projects run entirely off of volunteer fees, so fundraising is crucial. Fundraising is also great fun, you get a chance to leave camp and talk/meet new people, and educate people about loggerhead turtles!


Like most conservation projects, we part pretty hard when we celebrate. 1000 nest parties are some of my favourite memories...

I honestly cannot recommend Archelon enough. They are an NGO that need your help more than your money. It doesn't matter what walk of life you're from or even how old you are, just that you want to dedicate your time to the cause. You will work hard and probably be exhausted a lot, but you will also have such a great time, and directly see your effort transpire into progress. If you stay for the whole season, you will literally see nests you found hatch! It's amazing and I cannot recommend Archelon enough.

*I volunteered in the Peloponnese, Kyparissia

volunteer

you will work so hard, but it is so rewarding and you genuinely make a difference