About the Sea Turtle Volunteer Project
Every year, sea turtles migrate to Kefalonia to forage and reproduce. Female turtles lay their eggs on the sandy beaches of the island. Human and natural threats continue damage and destroy many eggs. Turtles themselves are often injured or killed. This is because of accidental boat strikes, entrapment in fishing gear, or the swallowing of plastics.
Our goal is to study and protect these endangered sea turtles and their ecosystems. To do this, we survey all nesting beaches to identify, study, and safeguard the turtles’ nests. We also monitor the population’s health and behaviour. Finally, we identify threats so that we can take conservation action.
Volunteer Fieldwork Activities
As a sea turtle conservation volunteer in Greece, you will take part in the following activities:
- Survey teams cycle to the beaches in the early morning to look for fresh turtle nests. These are then marked, measured, and protected against damage. We also track their incubation progress.
- When the young turtles hatch, volunteers help protect them from light pollution. They also ensure they can safely crawl to the sea.
- After all healthy hatchlings have left the nests, volunteers conduct inventories. This is to assess the fate of every egg and the hatching success of each nest.
Light pollution and storms are two primary threats to sea turtle nests in Kefalonia. Thus, an important part of your conservation field work is the environmental studies used to quantify light pollution and determine its source. Volunteers also measure the continuous changes of the nesting beaches and the distance of the water from nests. With this data, our team will be able to assess the risk to each nest and take timely action to prevent any harm.
Sea turtles nest along the entire south coast of Kefalonia. In general, from May to July is nesting season (when female turtles are laying eggs on the beaches), and from August to October is hatching season (when the eggs hatch and baby turtles head to the sea). To cover this extensive area, we operate our conservation volunteer projects at two separate locations; Lixouri and Argostoli. There are a few differences between the activities in these two locations:
In Argostoli, there are no night surveys. Turtles are observed regularly in the harbour from June to October. From August onwards, volunteers are involved in hatchling rescue/beach sleepouts/morning surveys through to October.
In Lixouri, night patrols take place from June to July. The patrols include spotting, measuring and tagging the nesting female turtles. There is no adult turtle observation in Lixouri. From August onwards, volunteers are involved in hatchling rescue/beach sleepouts/morning surveys through to September.
All other activities and experiences for the sea turtle volunteer projects are the same for both locations.
Independent research projects and internships for university students
It is also possible for volunteers to:
- Receive internship or placement credits.
- Conduct an independent research project.
- Gain work experience or community service hours.
You will receive a volunteering certificate at the end of your stay, but for any of the above programmes you will need additional preparation. This includes extra reading and work during the project and at home. The number of internship spots is limited. Deadlines, requirements and a minimum volunteering period of four weeks apply. If interested, please email us well in advance.