10 September 2017

Summer Full of Turtles

Hello again. As you may have noticed, I was not around much this summer. The reason behind this awkward silence is the fact that I was gone for most of the summer, volunteering for Archelon,the Sea Turtle Protection Society of Greece which works incredibly hard to protect loggerhead turtles (Caretta caretta) and their nesting and foraging sites all around Greece. Great part of this work is done by an everchanging team of international volunteers. Ever since my acceptance just before Christmas, I have been getting ready for the trip on which I will have to work hands on with turtles, one of my favourite animals. 

So at the beginning of August, as I stood in the security line at Gatwick airport, clutching my boarding pass, I could not stop myself from thinking -what the hell are you doingI imagined having to work with many young, fit and beautiful gap year people who will put me to shame and I will become forever known as “that older lady who thought she could do it”, but instead found a nice small group of people roughly my age who were equally or even more enthusiastic about marine conservation than I was.

Loggerhead turtle just before release

From the fear of saying something scientifically inaccurate I will refrain from writing elaborate posts on loggerhead turtles, but I can say that those two weeks were a dream come true and an adventure to be remembered for the rest of my life. The photo above is a quick snapshot of a newly tagged and measured turtle just before it was released back into the sea. There really wasn't enough time to take arty pictures (but if you want to see some underwater ones, check out professional photos of sea turtles by Kostas Papafitsoros. I have been following his work for quite some time now).

Overall, the slaps, bruises and scratches were totally worth it and knowing that I have put my little bit into helping preserve this beautiful animal and the habitat it shares with so many other species fills me with content. Sadly, there are still many places where people disrespect rules that are in place to protect them and keep on carelessly endangering them by fast driving or even feeding them in front of tourists for money which can become fatal to them later. We even saw some turtle feeding tours advertised last year on out honeymoon in Zakynthos, which is a marine park! Unortunately the tourists that do go on these tours go because they like turtles and do not know how devastating the impact of it can be. Some examples of turtles and humans clashing (in some cases literally so) can be seen in the sea turtle rescue centre in Athens (below) which is open to visitors.

Loggerhead turtle at the rescue centre in Athens
As life changing as the experience was, it was also eye-opening. It made me realise that no matter how much I dream about it, I couldn't do conservation work full time. I am not the right type for it and I lack the enthusiasm and passion for data that you need to be a scientist. And also, I really and truly love teaching, bringing the science to the masses and helping them love and care for the world we live in. I like being comfy and cosy and organised in my classroom, having certain level of independence in how I do things and working with young people. It was nice to have some confirmation, now almost in my thirties, that I chose my career path well. 

I don't think I will volunteer again but I will always remember the sounds of loggerheads coming up for breath when the sea was calm and the boat engine was off.


  1. What an experience! I can understand not wanting to do it again, but at least you did do it. I am quite envious of your will to go through with this adventure. I probably would not have made it onto the plane.

    1. I think you would, especially id you'd been dreaming about it since you were six, like me :) Sometimes you just have to take that metaphorical leap. It did go well and it is something I'll always remember.

  2. Wow! Since you were six! It is so nice to read about someone making their dreams come true. I have fulfilled most of my dream quests. I did not want to become one the 'should of' elders. LOL! So, what is next on your list?


Hello you! Thank you for stopping by!

Every time I write a post it is like writing a letter to someone I might not yet know. Every comment I get is like getting a beautiful letter in my mail box. Please keep sending them, long or short, praise, advice, questions... Whatever they are they are always welcome (except for spam which is the unwelcome and will be destroyed by merciless deletion).

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...