Charlotte has learnt how to collect data on loggerhead sea turtle nesting and even assisted in tagging an adult turtle, while making lifelong friends from all over the world.
1. Why did you choose this particular project?
I chose the turtle conservation project in Greece as I had wanted to volunteer abroad for a few years and this project seemed perfect. I had never travelled abroad on my own before so this was the perfect location as it wasn’t too far so the flight wasn’t too long. Currently studying a Zoo Biology Degree, this project gave me more experience of working out in the field collecting data and experiencing conservation efforts in a different country.
2. Which kind of work and activities did you do during your project?
I joined the project towards the end of the hatching season so we only had a few nests left to monitor. In the morning we would cycle to the coast and walk the beaches to check for hatchling tracks coming from the nest and write down any observations or changes at the beach. We also did night shifts where we would sleep on the beach near a nest that was due to hatch in order to help the hatchlings make it to the sea on beaches where there was light pollution. While I was there we also carried out beach profiles and light pollution surveys. I also took part in a tagging event where we caught turtles in the harbour in order to give them health checks and tag any untagged ones we found in order to monitor the population. In my spare time I also got the opportunity to explore the island and do some water sports at a local beach.
3. How did the culture and people differ to home, and what were the locals like?
The locals were all very friendly and they knew about the organisation we volunteered with so they understood what work we were doing there. It helped that some of the locals also spoke English.
4. What was the accommodation like?
The accommodation was nice but very basic. When I went there were only a few volunteers so the house wasn’t too crowded. It was a nice size group which meant we could all sit together in the kitchen whilst we took it in turns to cook.
5. What were the staff and other volunteers like?
The other volunteers were really friendly and easy to get on with and the field leaders and assistants were really nice and would help you with anything. We had a rota each week to tell us what our duties were each day which meant I got the chance to work with everyone there. As we were all working and living together I got to know the other volunteers really well and still stay in contact with some of them now.
6. What was your most amazing moment or your best memory?
My best memory was at the tagging event when me and another volunteer spotted an untagged male turtle under the water which they then managed to catch and bring into the harbour for tagging. It was an amazing moment as I felt we were contributing to collecting important information on the population of the loggerhead turtles.
7. Do you feel the work you were doing was worthwhile?
Yes I did feel the work we were doing was worthwhile as the inventories on hatched nests and the tagging event provided data on hatching success and the population. The surveys we carried out on the beaches also meant we were monitoring changes that could affect where the turtles nest in the future.
8. What sort of wildlife did you encounter?
I mainly just encountered the hatchlings that we found in nests during inventories and the adult Loggerhead Turtles during the tagging event.
9. What were you hoping to learn while on project, and have you achieved those goals?
I hoped to learn more about sea turtles and how this project is helping to conserve them and I definitely think I achieved this goal as I learnt so much about the life of adult sea turtles and how they reproduce.
10. Any tips and advice you might like to pass on to future volunteers?
I would say definitely learn some Greek before you go as it does help. Also be open minded and maybe do a bit of cycling before you arrive as you have to cycle a lot to get to the beaches!
Learn more about this project and how to apply here