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Tom Scott, the first volunteer of the ARCHELON Sea Turtle Rescue Centre comes back for a visit! 

On October 25th 2022, Tom Scott, the first foreign volunteer to join the ARCHELON Sea Turtle Rescue Centre back in 1995, returned to visit with his family. It was a perfect opportunity to interview him and find out how it all happened. 

“I had finished my marine biology studies in 1995 and at the time, I thought the best way to get a job in the field was to become a volunteer. I found out about ARCHELON and the Rescue Centre, which was founded in 1994 and, on a spring day in 1995, I arrived in Greece ready to start my three-month volunteering work,” he says.

Tom Scott, the first volunteer of the ARCHELON Sea Turtle Rescue Centre comes back for a visit!  “There were just two train wagons at the site and one turtle with a hook in her mouth, which was kept in a child’s paddling pool, about 50cm big. We had to bring water from the sea to the tank with buckets. I used to shower outside with a garden hose and there was no toilet. A lot of the work that we did was building and painting the Centre and making it into what it looks like today,” he adds. 

When his volunteer period came to an end, Tom discussed with Dimitris Margaritoulis, the founder of ARCHELON, who was at the time also a member of the Board of Directors, about staying on to work at the Sea Turtle Rescue Centre as a paid employee. 

“So, I stayed for almost three years and became responsible for the care of the sea turtles. Things were starting to change. The first wagon was used for environmental education, where we were accepting two schools per week and the other wagon was used as an office, workshop, and sleeping area. We soon installed the outside tanks and a pump to bring in clean sea water; we were all so excited about these changes. I remember the maximum number of injured sea turtles that we had was eight, and we were so stressed about managing everything. I see now that you have 22 animals, but you are so cool about it,” he said amused.

Tom Scott, the first volunteer of the ARCHELON Sea Turtle Rescue Centre comes back for a visit! 

“It’s very touching to see all the changes. Public awareness is now done in such a professional way. You have hundreds of school children visiting every week and you have helped to create a new generation that knows and cares about the conservation of sea turtles,” he adds.  

After leaving the Rescue Centre, Tom worked as a field leader on ARCHELON’s nesting beach projects on Crete for four seasons. To the question of why he chose to work for ARCHELON for almost seven years, Tom replied: “It was about wanting to do something useful with my life. It makes you feel nice when you go to bed at night thinking to yourself that you have contributed something to the world! It was hot, and it was hard, but it was worth it. The main motivation is the same with the volunteers that come here today. It is amazing that young people continue to want to save the world and it is what brings people to ARCHELON and connects us,” he explained.

Tom Scott, the first volunteer of the ARCHELON Sea Turtle Rescue Centre comes back for a visit! Everyone at the Rescue Centre was excited to meet Tom, his wife Merel Scott-Ruis, who was a volunteer at the Chania field project on Crete in 1999 and 2000, and their two kids, who cannot wait to become volunteers at ARCHELON when they finish school. 

2023 will mark the 40th anniversary of ARCHELON- the Sea Turtle Protection Society of Greece and we are looking forward to organizing some kind of Homecoming event for the thousands of people who have volunteered over the years for sea turtle conservation in Greece. More to be announced soon.

You can find out more about the history of ARCHELON here.

 

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