Volunteer Abroad Greece: Sea Turtle Conservation
Do you want to soak up the natural beauty of the Greek Islands while contributing to the conservation of one of its most beloved marine inhabitants? Then join in on our research-based sea turtle protection project on the island of Kefalonia for an experience you won’t soon forget.
Choose between our two project sites in Lixouri or Argostoli — or visit them both! Each location offers exciting opportunities to engage in data collection and conservation work among a diverse team of international researchers and volunteers.
Start your day with a sunrise bicycle ride to the beach or a visit to the sea turtle residents at Argostoli harbour to collect data and observe their behaviour. Spend the afternoon listening to a researcher presentation on important conservation themes or by cooling off in the Ionian Sea. Finish off the evening with a beach profile survey, with fellow volunteers at trivia night, or a night spent on the beach awaiting female turtles to come ashore and lay their eggs. The activities are designed to allow volunteers to experience many different elements of sea turtle conservation, all among the beautiful backdrop of the Kefalonian coast.
- Engage with and support local and international experts in the field of sea turtle conservation
- Learn hands-on research and analysis skills from conservation specialists
- Encourage community awareness of the threatened loggerhead and green turtles
- Experience a night under the stars protecting turtle nests
- Contribute to a growing body of research helping to save the loggerhead from extinction
Plan your trip
Included in the programme fee
- Assistance with travel arrangements
- Assistance with selecting travel insurance
- Assistance with booking flights
- Placement in the programme
- Risk coverage certificate
Meghan, your travel agent for Greece
Don't hesitate to contact me if you would like to learn more about this journey! I answer all of your questions and assist you before, during and after your adventure abroad.
Train and work in threatened species conservation in Greece
Work alongside those who have dedicated their life’s work to the study and conservation of the loggerhead and green sea turtles. The research you conduct both promotes community awareness as well as contributes to a growing body of knowledge, helping to understand and better protect this threatened species.
Arrival and orientation on Kefalonia island
You will either arrive at the Kefalonia airport (EFL) and be picked up by our project partner and taken to the project site, or you will arrive at the Athens International Airport (ATH) and take a bus direct to Argostoli or Lixouri bus stations where our project partner will pick you up. Projects in Argostoli always begin on a Sunday, and projects in Lixouri always start on a Tuesday. To facilitate an easy pick-up, volunteers are asked to arrive at the pick-up spot before 16:00.
Activities in the sea turtle conservation project
Your time on Kefalonia island will be spent participating in various hands-on activities dedicated to the conservation of sea turtles and their habitat, all while contributing to fundamental research and gaining life-long skills. Tasks vary depending on the time of year, as the focuses shift from mating season (April – mid-May) to nesting season (mid-May - late July) to hatching season (late July - late October).
Tasks include sunrise beach patrols to inspect the beaches for turtle nests and fresh turtle tracks, and beach patrols in the night in the hopes of witnessing and recording data on the adult turtles coming to land to nest. These nests will continue to be monitored, and upon hatching, volunteers play an integral role in assuring that the baby turtles make it safely to the sea.
Beach clean-ups, sea turtle tagging (specifically in Argostoli in April, May and October), rescuing of injured sea turtles, monitoring of beach light pollution, turtle behavioural research, drone surveys, harbour monitoring and plastic pollution assessment are other tasks which are essential to the conservation and protection of Kefalonia’s sea turtle population.
Two sites: Lixouri and Argostoli
This project has two distinct research centres: one in Lixouri and one in Argostoli. Lixouri field station (aka volunteer accommodation) is a 5-8 km bike ride across hilly terrain from the beaches you will be working on each day but is centrally located in the town. Argostoli’s field station is closer to the nesting sites (1-5 km away), but it is ~7 km from the town centre. Regardless of the project location, you should be comfortable with riding a bike every day, sometimes in rather hot weather, as this is your primary form of transportation.
In both project sites, you will be sharing accommodation with other international volunteers. Our project partner tries to ensure rooms are gender specific. Rooms are dorm-like, with two bunk beds (4 beds) and a kitchenette. You will be responsible for purchasing and preparing all your meals. Lixouri-based volunteers have more opportunities to eat out, considering their proximity to the town centre, whereas Argostoli volunteers will rely primarily on groceries. Both accommodations have a laundry machine (for a €3 fee) and a shared bathroom with solar-heated water, a sink, shower and toilet.
Leisure time as a volunteer in Greece
You will have plenty of free time to explore the beautiful island of Kefalonia, visit historical sites, relax on the beach, or explore quaint towns and get a feel for the local culture. For each week of your stay, you will have two days off. Your exact schedule will be made available to you at the start of the week, so you can plan how you would like to use your free time.
Our project partner likes to organise optional weekly social activities as a way for volunteers to get to know one another and relax in a fun environment. Some activities might include a BBQ night, communal pizza night, smores around the fire or a volleyball tournament.
How to get to Argostoli or Lixouri
Start of conservation training
Your stay on Kefalonia: A typical volunteer day
Time to head home!
FAQ – Learn more about this trip
“The highlight of the project for me was seeing the baby turtles making their way out to the ocean and getting pulled in by the waves.”
“I had hoped that the work would be so much fun that it wouldn't feel like work at all, and that's exactly what happened.”
The Greek island of Kefalonia is a sea turtle paradise at the exit of the Gulf of Patras. The predominantly mountainous island, with altitudes of up to 1,628 m, lies west of the Greek mainland in the Ionian Sea and makes the heart of hiking enthusiasts beat faster. Argostoli, the idyllic island capital, sits on a hill overlooking a small harbour. The underground lake Melissani, charming villages and extensive vineyards provide a stunning setting. The typical rugged, dry landscape is complemented by limestone cliffs along the coast and hidden bays with white sand and pebble beaches. Along the southwest coast, most of the sandy beaches are nesting sites for sea turtles. Often the beaches can only be reached on foot or via serpentines.
Background of the sea turtle conservation programme in Greece
Throughout the world, there are seven species of sea turtles. Six of these seven species are classified as “endangered” or “vulnerable”. There are various reasons for this: many are victims of by-catch in fishing, others lose their eggs to poachers, and increasingly, as global temperatures rise, a mismatch of the sexes occurs, resulting in more female young than male.
Although both the loggerhead sea turtle and the green sea turtle can be seen in Greek waters, only the loggerhead sea turtle comes ashore to lay its nests on the beaches. Loggerheads face the risk of extinction, and although they are protected by Greek and European law, there is still much more work to be done. Our partner is committed to protecting these long-distance swimmers and their natural habitat. Passionate volunteers who join us will have the unique opportunity to gain hands-on experience and raise public awareness of this keystone species.
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