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The Kefalonian Marine Turtle Project

Volunteer Information

This page outlines some of the work that KMTP volunteers have done in the past -

PLEASE NOTE - NO more vounteers are required until further notice.


Introduction

Tell me more!

What does volunteering involve?

How do I become involved?

sorry! under construction!A day in the life of a KMTP volunteer

References


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INTRODUCTION

Volunteer opportunities
Each year from 31st May to the 17th October, the KMTP invite members of the public, over 18 years of age, to become involved in sea turtle research. .

As with many other sea turtle programmes, a volunteer on the KMTP has the rare opportunity to see turtles nesting and hatching, and to get experience in practical fieldwork. Volunteers are required to cover their expenses and the conditions can at times be tiring, rustic and challenging. The project relies on the skills and enthusiasm of the volunteers to fulfil all the scientific and conservation objectives - hard work but ultimately extremely rewarding, and volunteers can expect to leave the island with technical experience and a wealth of environmental, scientific and turtle knowledge.

Do you think you have what it takes?! Read on...!

 

The turtles
The Kefalonian Marine Turtle Project researches and conserves loggerhead turtles (Caretta caretta) that nest on the Greek island of Kefalonia.

Check out the EuroTurtle page at: http://www.euroturtle.org/outline/logger.htm

 

History and background of the KMTP project

View the Introduction page for more information


TELL ME MORE!

Where will I be based?
The project is based near to Mounda beach, the main nesting beach for loggerhead turtles on the island of Kefalonia in the Ionian Sea, west of mainland Greece. The climate during the summer is generally very hot and dry, with temperatures around 30-35 C, with the occasional summer storm.

mounda beach at dusk.

Figure 1. Mounda beach, Kefalonia (Photo. C. Morris, 1996).

Accommodation is in three shared villas with bathroom, kitchen and veranda with a studio office and equipment store. The buildings are situated in the village of Ano Katelios, around 2 kilometres from the village of Katelios and the nesting beach, and a few more km away from the tourist town of Skala.

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Figure 2. KMTP field centre (Photo. C. Morris, 1996).

Go to the Introduction page to find out more about location and accommodation.

 

Who can participate?
Participants come from all walks of life, all having a common interest in the conservation and future of endangered turtles. Science graduates or those with relevant degrees are preferred, but there is by no means a hard and fast rule as to who can apply. Most people have some skill that they can contribute to the project i.e. Public Relations knowledge. A desire to learn and a willingness to muck in are also very important attributes - previous project experience is an advantage.

The work is physically strenuous - The main challenge is to keep awake for long periods and to walk around 10 km per night over soft sand. Applicants should be physically fit and prepared for the rustic lifestyle.

A knowledge of Greek and the Greek culture is a definite plus..


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When does it take place?
The season runs from the end of May until mid-October; the early part of the season involves work with nesting females and the latter with emerging hatchlings.

Volunteers are required to work for a 5 week period (this includes one week of training), although this can be flexible i.e. if you are only available for 4 weeks then you will still be considered for selection.

Volunteers are divided into 8 groups with 8 members in each. The dates of each group are shown below:

What about free time?
At the end of the training week there is an opportunity to dive at the Greek Diving Centre in the village of Fiskardo. The school caters for complete beginners to experienced sports divers. (Note the cost of this has to be met by the individual). In addition to this each volunteer will get two days off during each day work week (4 days in total) to explore the island and surrounding area.

How much will it cost?
The price of participation is 550 for five weeks. This price covers food, accommodation and a five-day training course on sea turtle biology and conservation upon your arrival on the island. Each volunteer will be expected to help cook. Meals tend to be simple and traditional but healthy and tasty.
However, applicants should note that this price is exclusive of travel to and from Kefalonia.

There is also the possibility of subsidised flights, but for now, expect to pay the full fair. You must organise your own travel arrangements to the island, but the project co-ordinators are happy to suggest the cheapest and easiest routes.

Please make sure you can cover all costs before applying for and accepting a position on the project.

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All in a night's work...
A typical night on the beach starts at 10 p.m. and finishes at dawn, between 6 and 7 a.m.

During the nesting season (June to mid-August), volunteers walk regular patrols up and down the beach, looking for signs of nesting females. Patrols start in the middle of the beach and two small groups walk, by the shore, quickly to either end of the beach. The walk takes about 20 minutes, the groups then wait for 20 minutes before returning. This time scale ensures that no female can be missed because the whole nesting procedure takes at least 1 hour.

turtle tracks

Figure 3. Distinctive turtle tracks after a night-time nesting - nest positioning/recording takes place shortly after dawn.

If tracks are found then a volunteer will crawl carefully up behind the turtle to see if she has started laying. Once she has started laying the turtle goes into a "trance-like" state and then group members will assist in taking measurements of the female, whilst checking for disease and damage to the carapace. The number of eggs are counted and a sample are weighed and measured. The female will also be tagged if she is not already and several individuals are fitted with radio transmitters. Once the data has been collected, volunteers wait behind the turtle until she returns to the sea, the position of the nest is then recorded.

loggerhead turtle

Figure 4. A loggerhead turtle returning to the sea after laying its nest (Photo. T. Stringell, 1996).

During the hatchling season, patrols continue while females may still be nesting. Data is collected on the emerging hatchlings, including numbers that successfully reach the sea. Additionally, orientation data is collected to monitor the effect of artificial beach lighting as they make their way down the beach. After there has been no activity at the nest for a number of nights, the nest is excavated to calculate the levels of infertility and the number of eggs which successfully hatched.

volunteer viewing hatchling tracks

Figure 5. A KMTP volunteer viewing recent hatchling tracks. Note the close proximity of the sun-bed
(Photo. T. Stringell, 1996).

Other duties on the beach will include taking tourists on patrols and telling them about the turtles and the project.

All in a day's work... some typical tasks!

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Figure 6. Radio tracking in the south of Kefalonia.

Tourist talks and slide shows are held in local bars and hotels to raise awareness. At these talks we also arrange for tourists to come and spend a night on the beach - by getting tourists involved, we get more support for the project.


HOW DO I BECOME INVOLVED?

We ask that you fill out the On- line Application Form , which will automatically be emailed to us.- no longer available

Our postal and email addresses can be found at the bottom of most pages.

photo of volunteers

Figure 7. Some of the volunteers from the 1997 season


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If readers of this page wish to contact the KMTP, they can do so via

[email protected]

or

[email protected]

T. B. Stringell [email protected]
Last modified: 6th July 1999