During your first few days at the project, you will attend multiple training sessions where our scientific methodologies are thoroughly described. These sessions will overview each shift you will take part in and how to use our research equipment.
Following the project’s scientific methods with diligence is important for the successful protection of sea turtles and the collection of accurate data. Because we understand that different people learn in different ways, we can provide training upon your arrival, in the form of instructional videos and presentations in addition to in-field training that will prepare you for a fulfilling and educational time at our project.
Most mornings will begin by biking to the nesting beaches at sunrise to identify and record fresh sea turtle tracks and to protect any nests. Reaching the nesting beaches in the early morning is important because it allows us to protect nests before the beach becomes busy with visitors that may walk over the tracks and obscure them or damage the nests by accident.
We typically do not work in the afternoon, between 1pm and 4pm, which is the hottest time of the day. In this time you can visit the local beaches and enjoy the sea, or visit the town. On some days you may have a free evening to rest and relax or visit a local Greek taverna. During your stay here you will have one full day off. Some volunteers take this opportunity to explore the area or the rest of the island, which is full of places well worth a visit.
Each week, the field leaders prepare a schedule (Rota) to assign volunteers to the teams responsible for carrying out all our project’s shifts. Volunteers rotate through all of the shifts allowing them to gain experience with every aspect of our project as well as the research and conservation methodologies used.
All teams are responsible for preparing the equipment required for their shift, carry out their shift within the specified timeframe, ensure all data have been recorded to the relevant datasheet, and that all equipment is cleaned and stored appropriately.
From June to early August, we identify sea turtle tracks emerging from the sea, which indicate a female sea turtle came out during the previous night to lay her eggs. We asses all tracks to understand the behaviour of the turtle. If the track is a possible nest, we will use our monitoring protocol to locate and verify the eggs and to protect them from accidental damage.
From late July to early October, young sea turtle hatchlings will begin hatching from their eggs and crawling towards the sea during the night. Our teams will carefully examine each protected nest to observe and record any hatching activity and whether the hatchlings are finding their way to the sea. During hatching season, each nest is examined by teams that visit the beach in the evening. When a nest is too close to an artificial light or other threat, a team will remain with the nest overnight as it hatches to prevent disorientation or other damage to the hatchlings.
After hatchlings have emerged from their nest for a number of nights, the morning survey team will examine the egg chamber to conduct a nest inventory; this way we will know how many hatchlings came out of the nest, which determines its success rate.
The beaches of south Kefalonia have some unique characteristics. Seasonal storms alter their shape so dramatically that in some seasons entire beaches disappear, while others change morphology many times within the season. Beach morphology is an important factor for sea turtle nesting. During the season we will regularly organize teams that go to all the nesting beaches and record the beach profile. This information is used to understand the seasonal alterations of the coastal environment of Kefalonia.