A 1 week hands-on educational experience for 16-17 year olds, which qualifies as a Gold DofE Residential. It’s based on the Greek island of Kefalonia, focussing on the conservation of sea turtles and coastal ecosystems.
You will get involved in a range of conservation activities including surveying turtle nests on beaches, turtle hatchling rescues, snorkel surveys of seagrass meadows, harbour turtle surveys and coastal clean-ups. These are accompanied by engaging conservation presentations.
You’ll be living on the beautiful island of Kefalonia, with its sandy beaches, friendly locals and warm crystal blue waters of the Ionian Sea.
Join a group of like-minded participants on this supported trip, accompanied by dedicated team leaders. Take part in the amazing work being done to help save the sea turtles of Greece from extinction and help protect coastal ecosystems that are so important for the planet.
You will be part of the Pod Volunteer Under 18 team spending 1 week getting involved in Turtle and Marine conservation in Greece! You will be supported by team leaders who will be living with you on the beautiful island of Kefalonia. It's open to all 16-17 year olds and is also an ideal trip to complete your DofE Gold Residential.
You will have exciting conservation activities every day, including turtle nesting beach surveys (early morning starts), harbour surveys of the turtle population, snorkelling surveys of sea grass meadows and a coastal clean-up. One evening is spent rescuing turtle hatchlings! These activities will be accompanied a series of engaging educational presentations.
Here is a typical conservation rota, with the team split into sub-groups where indicated. There is also plenty of time to relax and enjoy the island, and you can find out more about free time activities in our Location section.
Turtle nesting beach surveys and nest checks
Every year loggerhead sea turtles migrate to Kefalonia to feed and reproduce, with female turtles laying their eggs on the sandy beaches of the island. Unfortunately, the turtle population is now under great pressure from both human and natural threats.
You will help survey the beaches of Kefalonia to monitor hatching sea turtle nests. Starting early in the morning, teams walk along the beach to check turtle nests, looking for fresh hatchling tracks, and making sure they are heading to sea.
Harbour survey of adult turtles
Over 300 adult and sub-adult sea turtles swim in the bay of Argostoli throughout the summer. Every morning, many turtles visit the town harbour, where fishing boats return with the morning's catch.
During harbour surveys, you will observe these turtles and record information about their foraging and social behaviours.
Turtle hatchling rescue
Turtle hatchlings crawl to the brightest horizon, which is normally the moon and stars reflecting off the water, to find their way to the sea. Unfortunately, light pollution from beach bars, hotels etc. confuses and disorients the hatchlings. They can spend many exhausting hours trying to find their way to the sea and sadly could die on the beach without help.
You will spend one night with the hatchling rescue team to help the hatchlings and release them at a darker part of the beach so they can crawl to the sea on their own. This shift runs through the night.
Snorkel surveys of seagrass meadows
Seagrass meadows are a larger carbon sink than the rainforest and play a critical role in combating climate change. They form an important ecosystem, providing habitats for many species including turtles, monk seals and several types of fish.
You will take part in snorkelling on the surface of the sea in marine zones near Argostoli. You will wear a life jacket (you don’t need to dive down) and you will be accompanied by two safety supervisors, on the land and sea (on a paddleboard). Seagrass research involves photography and recording GPS, depths and other sea properties. Snorkel shifts will only take place in suitable sea and weather conditions.
The island of Kefalonia is susceptible to plastic pollution and waste which affects turtles, sea birds and many other marine and terrestrial species. The team carry out regular beach and coastal clean-ups which you will help with.
You will be given presentations covering the aims of the conservation work, scientific methods you are using, and broader conservation topics like climate change.
You should be able to do beach walks of up to 2km and should be a confident swimmer who has snorkelled before.
There are up to 25 participants.
This placement has been approved by the DofE as meeting the requirements for the Residential section of the Gold Award.
You will have dedicated leaders who live at the campsite with you and you will be working alongside the local conservation team, including field leaders and assistants.
Accommodation is provided in shared tents at a campsite conveniently located just outside Argostoli town.
Each tent can sleep up to 4 people, on a single sex basis. Tents are provided with electricity, light, refrigerator, table and chairs. The campsite is set in a shady olive grove and is close to a lovely beach with incredible sunset views, a perfect place to relax at the end of a busy day!
Meals are included and here are typical examples of the food you will have:
Vegetarians and vegans are welcomed and can be catered for. If you have any allergies or specific dietary requirements please let us know in advance and we will check if these can be catered for.
There is drinking water available at the campsite or you can buy bottled water.
You will need to fly into Kefalonia (EFL) where you will be met on arrival by your team leaders.
Kefalonia is an island in the Ionian Sea, west of mainland Greece. It's a pretty special place to have as the backdrop to your conservation work and there will be plenty of time to enjoy the island as well!
The campsite is located just outside Argostoli town and there are lovely beaches to enjoy within walking distance. It's also nice to walk in to Argostoli town to spend time browsing the shops there or relaxing at one of the cafes overlooking the harbour.
During the week, we will also organise a visit to another part of the island to see the incredible Cave of Melissani, with it's azure blue waters which you take a boat across.
Kefalonia has a Mediterranean climate with mild, rainy winters and dry, hot summers with long sunny days. In August, temperatures are usually around 30°C+.
Arrival date - Wednesday 21 August
Departure date - Wednesday 28 August
|1 week||£1295||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
"I gained incredible experience with a variety of marine conservation efforts. Discovering the culture and natural beauty of the Greek islands has been a highlight of this trip."
“I have never enjoyed anything so much in my life. Working with the loggerhead turtles has been amazing and has taught me so much about them. My highlight of the holiday was swimming a hatchling out to sea and watching it swim into the distance knowing you helped it!”
"I arrived in Kefalonia with no experience in marine conservation but has have been full of learning and taught me so much about the importance of protecting these ecosystems and the impact they have on the rest of the world."
hatchlings helped to sea last year
"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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