Our volunteers from abroad join us right on time for the hatching season
Mid-July of the COVID19 summer and ARCHELON’s teams are observing the usual peak in the number of nests of loggerhead sea turtles in all monitored nesting sites. Yet, things are very different in the projects, compared to past years. There are much fewer volunteers participating and all of them are carefully implementing precautions against COVID-19.
Even though most international conservation volunteer projects were cancelled this summer, ARCHELON took the decision to carry on in the best possible way. This prolonged period of uncertainty and restrictions on international travel, where at the same time we needed to eliminate risks of COVID-19 infections in the projects, led us to set a ceiling in the number of volunteers participating each week.
By now, most of the placements are covered. Applications of returning volunteers or those wishing to stay longer than 4 weeks are given priority. The number of volunteers finally confirmed for Zakynthos, Kyparissia and the Rescue Centre, is less than half of that in previous years. Rethymno and Lakonikos projects are run by staff and a handful of volunteers who will be staying until the end of the season. The nesting beaches of Chania, Messara in Crete and Koroni in south Peloponnese are so far monitored by local volunteers. Amvrakikos project and west Greece will be implemented by ARCHELON’s staff in different dates.
As the nesting season unfolds, there will be hatchlings soon to bring a smile on everybody’s face. ARCHELON’s teams will be surveying the beaches to record the hatching of the nests, only this year trained volunteers will not have time to shade nests before hatching. Some specific nesting sectors in Kyparissia bay, Lakonikos, Koroni, Rethymno, Chania, Messara, need the attention of local stakeholders during the hatching season. At these spots, there are local businesses and/ public lights right by the beach. If lights are not dimmed, covered or turned off after 11pm, thousands of hatchlings will lose their way and end up dead in their premises or on the street the next day.
Legal provisions for eliminating photo- pollution on nesting beaches are in place in Greece. Local authorities are aware of them, as well as local businesses. The question is: will these coffee shops, bars, guest houses, hotels, restaurants near the beaches cover their lights in the coming weeks? Stay tuned for more news, on that front.