Greece Sea Turtle Conservation
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- Gap Year
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Greece provides a blend of a hot Mediterranean climate, fascinating ancient culture, and seas teeming with marine life. Enjoy the chance to immerse yourself in this fabulous culture whilst living close to the beautiful sandy beaches and helping to protect one of Greece’s most charismatic sea creatures, the loggerhead sea turtle (Caretta caretta in Greek).
On this project you'll live and work with other enthusiastic and energetic international volunteers to conserve and protect one of the most important loggerhead turtle nesting areas in Kefalonia, Greece.
You will conduct daily monitoring surveys each morning to record nesting activity and help to protect turtle nests against predation by mammals and inundation by sea water. In addition to this, volunteers will conduct field surveys on nesting beaches to locate and protect new nests. At night you will help to survey, tag and measure nesting turtles and record beach characteristics and light pollution levels.
You will receive practical training on the job from local staff, and have the opportunity to help safeguard Greece’s vulnerable sea turtles and exceptional habitats for future generations.
WHAT DOES THE PROJECT DO?
The project works with local environmental authorities and fishermen in order to mitigate and reverse population reduction of sea turtles.
The Island of Kefalonia, off the west coast of Greece, is an important breeding area for the loggerhead sea turtles in the Mediterranean. The project’s primary objective is to protect the sea turtles and their habitats through monitoring and research, developing and implementing management plans and raising public awareness of the need to conserve these resilient creatures.
Volunteers will help to protect sea turtle nests against predation and inundation by sea water from incoming tides. This activity ensures that as many hatchlings survive as possible and add to global population numbers. In addition to this volunteers will have the chance to help educate the local community to try and encourage them to adopt friendlier attitudes towards the natural environment and gain a deeper understanding of the importance of conserving loggerhead sea turtles.
WHAT WILL I BE DOING?
Your day to day duties will be dependent upon the current focus of the project at the time of your arrival. The work is varied with all volunteers taking on different roles each day.
If you are present during the main breeding season (May-July), you will assist in the identification of fresh sea turtle nesting activities. Successful nesting locations are then clearly marked and protected.
During peak nesting season (mid May- August) tasks may include morning surveys to look for adult turtle tracks and locate nests, 'caging' or relocating threatened nests, and night surveys to observe and tag nesting females.
During the hatching season (August - September) , you will record any hatching events and help to prevent the destruction of the nests. In addition to this, particular attention is paid to light pollution levels, which can cause hatchlings to crawl in the wrong direction and so, never make it to the sea. You may have the opportunity to help identify potentially harmful light pollution sources and try to reduce their effects. When this is not possible, you will provide the nest with shade so that emerging hatchlings are not disoriented and make it quickly to the sea. Furthermore, you will patrol beaches close to the volunteer house, gathering valuable population data on these vulnerable sea turtles.
You will work in an alternating shift pattern with the other volunteers. Between shifts you will have plenty of time to relax on your balcony, enjoy the white sandy beaches or explore the local area. You will also have one day off a week which will vary depending on the work programme assigned by your field leader.