The Marine and Coastal Conservation project researches and monitors the large seagrass meadows and sand dune systems that can be found around the beautiful island of Kefalonia in Greece.
Volunteers get involved in hands on research, exploring and assessing the sand dunes on land and through drone surveys, and in-water snorkelling surveys of the seagrass meadows. Volunteers also help to keep the beaches clean, recording plastics and other debris and collecting for disposal or recycling.
You’ll be living on the friendly island of Kefalonia, with its sandy beaches, rugged scenery and surrounded by the warm crystal blue waters of the Ionian Sea.
Join the team and help protect these critical ecosystems that are so important maintaining biodiversity as well as tracking and mitigating climate change.
The project studies the Posidonia oceanica seagrass meadows and the sand dunes along south-east Kefalonia, categorised as vulnerable on the Red List.
Seagrass meadows are a larger carbon sink than the rainforest and play a critical role in mitigating climate change. They form an important ecosystem, providing vital habitats and nursery grounds for turtles, fish and lots of other marine life and organisms.
Sand dunes and their vegetation form coastal protection and a defence between sea and land and are a specialised ecosystem for many species including nesting turtles and rare dune vegetation. The dunes are under threat from development and climate change leading to degradation and erosion.
Volunteers support the work of the local conservation team and split the majority of their time between exploring the seagrass meadows and understanding the extensive dune systems. While surveying these areas, volunteers will document the flora and fauna, create topographies, and understand pressures both ecosystems face.
Volunteer tasks include:
You will get involved with hands-on research that will allow you to demonstrate standard scientific methodology that can be used in the field. You will learn about the importance of the ecosystems, current climate concerns and the impact these can have on both marine and terrestrial environments.
The seagrass meadow research is carried out by snorkelling on the surface of the sea, wearing a life jacket, in waters of up to 8 metres deep. Volunteers are monitored by a safety supervisor on a paddleboard and snorkel shifts will only take place in suitable sea and weather conditions. Surveying involves in-water photographic surveys, and recording GPS, depths and other properties of the sea environment.
You should be a strong swimmer with snorkelling experience, and comfortable riding a bicycle, as this is the way you will travel to the beaches. The bikes are also a great way to get around and explore the island!
“Without the help of volunteers we wouldn’t be able to sustain the ongoing research and assessment of these vulnerable ecosystems which are so important for our planet”
Nikos, Program Director
At the start of your first week, you will be fully briefed on the project and receive training in the research procedures and techniques that you will use, including GPS, sea meadow research, data entry and photo classification.
Working days consist of a morning shift and an afternoon shift of around 2-4 hours each, with the middle of the day free to rest and relax. Mornings typically involve sand dune surveys, litter collection and sea meadow photo assessment. Afternoons focus on snorkelling sea meadow surveys and drone surveys as well as reviewing data collected. Mornings with sand dune surveys start early at around 5.30am and the afternoon shift finishes between 6-7.30pm. Evenings are then free. Volunteers have 2 days off per week. You can see a sample rota here.
During your free time, you can explore the many attractions of the island or simply relax on the beaches near the volunteer accommodation!
There are up to 12 volunteers at the field station.
If you are coming with a friend or partner, please note that it’s not always possible to be placed together on the same shifts although it’s no problem to have the same days off. You’ll be based in the field station together and can request to stay in the same room (subject to availability and gender as rooms are normally single sex).
This placement has been approved by the DofE as meeting the requirements for the Residential section of the Gold Award.
You will be working alongside the local team, including field leaders and assistants. Staff live alongside volunteers in the field station.
The volunteer house is surrounded by fruit and olive trees, giving lots of shade and space to relax. The house has simple furnishings and a communal cooking and living area. Each bedroom accommodates up to 4 volunteers (mixed gender) and there is a shared bathroom.
The house is ideally positioned between the two main coastal areas that will be monitored and the stunning beaches of Skala and Mounda.
Meals are not included in this placement. Volunteers prepare their own meals and are able to buy groceries locally. You may also like to visit some of the local restaurants or order some souvlaki (traditional grilled kebab) for an evening meal on the beach!
There are vegetarians and vegans options available, including vegetarian souvlaki!
The water on Kefalonia is safe to drink or you can buy bottled water.
You will need to fly into Kefalonia (EFL).
You will be met on arrival at Kefalonia Airport and transferred to the field station which is approximately 1 hours drive from the airport.
Kefalonia is an island in the Ionian Sea, west of mainland Greece. The field station and volunteer accommodation is positioned between the two main coastal areas that will be monitored and close to some of the island's best beaches. The beach of the popular tourist town of Skala is 2.3km away and Mounda beach is 1.5km away, easily accessed by walking or using the project bicycles!
Skala has a long beautiful beach with beach bars and restaurants to enjoy, beach volleyball and water sports on offer. There are also bakeries, grocery stores and shops to visit. Mounda beach is known for its tranquility and pristine waters, a lovely place to relax in the Mediterranean sun!
When not working, volunteers enjoy socialising together and regularly have movie nights, quiz nights and get creative with henna designs. It’s also nice to head into town and have a meal out and even try out some Greek dancing!
Volunteers have 2 days off per week to explore the island.
Kefalonia has a Mediterranean climate with mild, rainy winters and dry, hot summers with long sunny days. From May-October, temperatures range from around 24 to 30+ °C, peaking in July and August.
Popular activities in Kefalonia that you might like to combine with your project are:
For more information on Greece and some of the things we loved when we visited there please see our Greece country page.
The minimum age for this project is 18 years old and the minimum duration is 2 weeks.
Start dates with availability - 2023
Thursday start - 1 Jun, 15 Jun, 29 Jun, 13 Jul, 27 Jul, 10 Aug, 24 Aug, 7 Sep
|2 weeks||£790||GB Pounds|
|Each additional 2 weeks||£670||GB Pounds|
Your fee covers the overseas costs of volunteering and the costs of running our organisation in the UK, on a non-profit basis. For more details and a breakdown of our costs please click here.
All monies paid to us are financially protected through The Association of Bonded Travel Organisers Trust Limited (ABTOT).
Fees in currencies other than GBP are indicative only and volunteers are invoiced in GBP. For current exchange rates please see www.xe.com
"It’s going better than I could have hoped. The work is very well organized and meaningful. We get a fair amount of free time too. Have met some great people. And kefalonia is spectacular."
endangered ecosystems - sea grass meadows and sand dunes
"It was an amazing experience that will stay with me forever! Pod Volunteer provided the ideal amount of support and guidance"Satvinder
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