Our account of 2020
2020 started strong with preparation for all our activities and very good prospects for the volunteer projects, but the upheavals due to the pandemic were many. Difficult real-time decisions had to be made already by March and we were forced to significantly reduce our operating costs in the months that followed.
Travel restrictions and compliance with the measures against the spread of COVID19 had as a consequence the cancellation of thousands of educational visits / tours to the Rescue Center in Glyfada and the cancellation of participation for about 80% of volunteers from abroad in all projects.
The key priorities set under these circumstances were the operation of the Rescue Network and the Sea Turtle Rescue Center, as well as the timely start of the monitoring and protection of loggerhead nesting on the beaches of Zakynthos and Kyparissia bay. A couple of weeks later it was possible to start monitoring of nests on the beaches of Crete and southern Peloponnese.
- The Rescue Center continued to operate with a high sense of responsibility on the part of staff, 30 local volunteers and 35 volunteers from abroad, several of whom extended their stay to assist in taking care of the sea turtles there. By the end of November there had been 33 new admissions of injured or sick turtles to the Centre, 17 releases after successful treatment and 11 deaths.
- The monitoring and protection of loggerhead nesting was successfully completed for the 37th consecutive year. The dedicated project teams included 98 volunteers, 11 seasonal associates and 5 staff members. Approximately 6500 nests were recorded in a total of 74 km of nesting beaches in Zakynthos, southern Kyparissia bay, Crete and southern Peloponnese.
- Local volunteers provided substantial assistance to the Chania and Messara projects in Crete. Former volunteers and Society members joined in again after many years to participate in the monitoring projects of Zakynthos and Kyparissia bay.
- The project in Zakynthos was carried out in collaboration with the Management Body of the National Marine Park of Zakynthos. More than 1800 nests were recorded and around 700 of them were protected this year with the assistance of the Park's staff.
- Around the end of August and during the hatching period, all project teams carried out information campaigns on the reduction of light pollution on nesting beaches in their respective municipalities and Coast Guard units.
- ARCHELON’s commitments for 2020 by the LifeEuroturtles project were carried out successfully. These included monitoring and protection of 750 nests north of the river Neda in Kyparissia bay and an upgrade of the greenhouse at the Rescue Center.
- The study of the movements of male turtles began in the Amvrakikos Gulf with the installation of 3 satellite transmitters in October.
- In 2020 we saw the publication of 7 new scientific papers which can be found on the website as well as of the annual reports on the conservation efforts in the National Marine Park of Zakynthos and in the Nature Protection Area in Kyparissia bay.
- On-site information activities with locals and visitors took place in all projects. Public awareness activities were also carried out at the Rescue Center and the coasts in Attiki, as well as at ARCHELON’s seasonal information kiosks and in hotels in Zakynthos, the Peloponnese, Rethymno and Chania.
- Environmental education activities for students took place at the Rescue Center with school visits in the periods January-March and September-October. A few experimental online live tours with students were also conducted.
We thank all the friends of ARCHELON, from either Greece or abroad, who participated as volunteers as well as those who responded to our call for immediate financial support. We also thank the Green Fund of the Ministry of Environment and Energy, the MAVA Foundation and the TUI Care Foundation for co- financing specific actions in 2020. We are grateful to the Stavros Niarchos Foundation for its donation, aiming to address the effects of the pandemic. A big thank you also goes to all the companies that stood by the Rescue Center by offering donations of money, goods or services.
All data mentioned above are preliminary. The final report of the results of our projects will be published in the first months of 2021.