Who we are

Chanel Comis

Chanel Comis

Chanel's desire to be an integral part of a team devoted to conservation efforts and scientific research has led her to work with sea turtles for over ten years. Her enthusiastic and ambitious attitude, combined with an inherent desire to work with endangered species has inspired her to promote awareness about these species and important environmental issues. Chanel has pursued this passion through working with several environmental conservation organizations, both in America and Greece. She earned her B.S. in Biology and minor in Chemistry with honors from the College of Mount Saint Vincent, NY, while interning at the Bronx Zoo, where she became interested in animal behavior. Chanel graduated from Coastal Carolina University, SC, with a master's degree in Coastal  Marine and Wetland Studies. She conducted her research thesis on loggerhead sea turtle hatchling orientation in Kyparissia, Greece.

Nikos Vallianos

Nikos Vallianos Bio Photo

Nikos' love for the sea was fostered from childhood when he would often spend hours snorkeling to observe the sea bottom and its variety of plants and animals, often freediving at forty or fifty feet to reach them. Later in life, while working as a computer programmer, he volunteered with the Red Cross's Rescue Team in open water lifeguarding and earned a lifesaving instructor certification.

Since first volunteering for sea turtle conservation, Nikos has worked as a field researcher, field leader, and project coordinator for several conservation projects for over thirteen years. He completed a BSc in Wildlife Management at the University of Aberdeen, UK, with a dissertation research project investigating the light pollution tolerance of sea turtle hatchlings. He specializes in technical instrumentation for research as well as the investigation and response to violations against wildlife and the natural environment.

Annya McKenzie

2021 Annya McKenzie Bio Photo

From a young age, Annya has always had a passion for the environment, in particular, the marine environment. Annya grew up in Jamaica and would spend hours a day in the sea looking for new fascinating organisms.

Annya’s love for marine life only thrived as she got older leading her to the University of Liverpool, where she studied Marine Biology and graduated in 2016. During her time at university, her love for sea turtles was discovered. Now, several years later, she still works with Wildlife Sense and loves to spread her knowledge on sea turtles with others.

You’ll often find Annya on the beaches finding sea turtle nests or along the harbour wall coordinating a tagging event. Her favourite thing during these events is measuring turtles’ plastrons.

Josh Witzmann

Josh Witzmann Bio Photo

Josh has spent near to his entire life next to the sea, traveling around and seeing a variety of different ecosystems and the animals within. This led to him spending most of his free time either in or right beside the ocean taking photos. As a result of this he decided that he would pursue a career in marine conservation, he is now studying Marine Biology at the University of St Andrews and will graduate in 2022 with a Master's degree.

Josh has been part of the Wildlife Sense family since 2018 when he first volunteered in Argostoli in nesting season. Since then he has returned every year as a Field Assistant. In 2020 he started his own research here by combining his two main passions; turtles and photography, which resulted in him running the Photo ID project. If he is not sitting at his desk identifying turtles you will most likely find him running around the harbour with either his camera or in his wetsuit!

Poppy Oliver

Poppy Oliver Bio Photo

Poppy has always lived close to the sea, growing up she spent her time sailing, surfing and swimming. Her interest in the natural environment and how we interact with it led her to study Geography at Bristol University, which was where she realised her passion for fieldwork and conservation.

She first volunteered with Wildlife Sense in 2018, and after falling in love with the project, (and two greek cats!) she came back in 2019 as a Field Assistant and has been a huge part of the leader team as a Field Leader for both Argostoli and Lixouri. Between spending time on the beaches monitoring nests, cycling around the island and at the harbour looking for turtles she will often be found either in the bakery or out snorkelling somewhere!

Paulette and John Lee

John and Paulette Lee

Paulette and John recently moved from the USA to Greece, and are now full-time residents, living on the Island of Kefalonia. Until February of 2021, they had spent the previous eleven years living on a boat, cruising the coasts from Canada to Colombia. The last six of these years were spent exploring the Caribbean. Scuba diving, snorkeling, marine life, hiking, geology, botanicals, and overall flora and fauna became an important part of their lives. Along the way, their interests led them to become educated in and involved with Coral Restoration, Project Aware and REEF projects.

From their lives before their “life at sea”, both Paulette and John bring extensive career backgrounds in business development and marketing.

Harry Thomas

Harry Thomas Bio photo

Harry first came to Kefalonia in 1999 but it was whilst holidaying with friends in 2014 and bumping into a Wildlife Sense researcher at the harbour that he discovered the island was home to sea turtles. He has returned every year since to help the conservation project, first as a volunteer in 2015 and then as Lixouri field leader from 2016 – 2018, followed by area coordinator in 2019. He has returned to Greece for periods of time in 2020 and 2021 as well as providing turtle talks to clubs and groups back home in the UK. Harry has a BA in wildlife and media and an MA in acting.

His favourite part of sea turtle conservation has always been night survey observation and tagging of nesting females. A stand-out memory was helping to care for an injured monk seal, the rarest seal in the world, back in December 2021. Whether on the Island or back home Harry is a representative of Wildlife Sense and helps whenever he can. Ultimately his dream is to have a house on Kefalonia.

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