The outcome of ARCHELON's actions in 2019 at the IONIAN CENTER
We were delighted to receive members, old and new volunteers and staff as well as friends from other environmental organizations at this ARCHELON event in Plaka, center of Athens, on January 30th.
As in previous years, our actions in 2019 supported the protection of sea turtles and their habitats. Specific elements from the posters for 2019 and the presentations of ARCHELON's coordinators are mentioned below:
• On 134 km of surveyed nesting beaches the projects identified and protected around 6,400 loggerhead nests and one green turtle nest in Messara Bay, south Crete.
• Volunteers operated the information stations in Zakynthos, Crete and Peloponnese and the Public Awareness projects reached an impressive number of 113,000 people.
• The Rescue Center took care of 83 turtles, 26 of which were admitted in previous years. In 2019 we were able to make the highest number of releases ever, with 43 fully recovered turtles having returned to sea.
• Environmental education programs at the Rescue Center received 11,000 pupils and teachers during the 2018 - 2019 school year
• ARCHELON volunteers participated in marine litter removals from the beaches and coasts and had campaigns to reduce plastic at sea in all project areas.
• The implementation of actions included in the Life Euroturtles project continued. Four Rescue seminars were organized with the participation of the Coast Guard and fishermen in the Cyclades islands. New satellite tracking of sea turtles and surveillance techniques via satellites and drones were carried out.
• ARCHELON’s volunteer programs had a big impact in 2019 and all speakers warmly thanked our volunteers from many countries around the world, including Greece, for their support. Almost 600 volunteers participated in nesting beach conservation projects and about 150 volunteers supported the Rescue Centre and the Rescue Network. These numbers are bigger than any previous year.
• Threats on the nesting beaches remained significant, despite the improvement in the removal of beach furniture at night in some areas with increased tourist traffic. The movement of vehicles on the nesting beaches has not ceased to be a problem and the "champion" of the problems remains the light pollution, i.e. the presence of artificial lighting on the beaches.
Dimitris Margaritoulis and Thomas Arapis discussed climate change or climate crisis and how it is expected to affect turtle habitats and populations. We heard about the potential impact of sea level rise, changes in the temperature on the sand, extreme weather conditions, changes in feeding grounds and in migration routes.
Later on, the project officers presented moving and also joyful snapshots from last year. These gave a taste of the Rescue Centre, the educational activities, the research and awareness raising activities in the different locations. We then congratulated the volunteers mentioned at the Over & Above Awards ceremony for their extraordinary contributions. At the end, the “vassilopitta” was served and the lucky coin for 2020 was found by one of the volunteers of the Rescue Centre.