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 since 2010. 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 Bio Photo

Nikos Vallianos

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.

2021 Annya McKenzie Bio Photo

Annya McKenzie

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, flying a drone, or coordinating a tagging event. Her favourite thing during these events is measuring turtles’ plastrons.

Josh Witzmann Bio Photo

Josh Witzmann

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 Bio Photo

Poppy Oliver

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!

2022 Sophie Sheddon Bio Photo

Sophie Shedden

From a young age, Sophie has known she wanted to work with animals. She was always fascinated by the marine environment but, living in a big UK city, only got the chance to really explore this on family holidays and trips abroad with friends. Sophie's love for animal behaviour and for being out in the field thrived when studying Zoology at university, which is also where she discovered Wildlife Sense. After falling in love with the project in 2017, she has returned to the Argostoli field station every year since. When she's not at the harbour spotting turtles and getting involved in busy tagging events, you'll likely find Sophie in the bakery or watching Mamma Mia!

2022 Tyler Brooks Bio Photo

Tyler Brooks

Tyler, like many others with Wildlife Sense, has spent his whole life living by the sea. His first encounter with turtles was a mass hatching of an unprotected nest of hawksbill turtles in Grenada, on Christmas Day back in 2014. He and his family spent the first few hours of the morning helping them safely get to sea after being disorientated in the hotel lights. Since then he has had a few more chance encounters all around the Caribbean, before joining WildlifeSense in 2020 and experiencing the work first hand, seeing both the hatchlings and having opportunities to rescue and assist injured adult turtles.

His time spent travelling has led to a love of all things water, and can often be found spending hours out snorkelling - to the point he once snorkelled just two weeks after breaking his collar bone!

Kira Evans

Kira Evans

Her first trip as a volunteer with Wildlife Sense was back in 2020. Last year, she was incredibly lucky to be a Field assistant. Working with WS, learning more about sea turtles, and making amazing new friendships is incredible! What more could you ask for? She lives in the South of France and is currently studying at Exeter University. She has always loved sports and the outdoors. She absolutely loves volleyball! You can always go find her ready to go play!!! Her favourite shifts are at the Harbour. The excitement of hearing a team member shout "head" or catching injured turtles is really exciting.

Post shifts, her love for spinach and feta pie from the bakery at the Argostoli Harbour will always be her favorite food. Her favourite beach is Eglina, where you can snorkel and see amazing sea creatures.

2022 Alex Tsiofas Bio Photo

Alex Tsiofas

Alex grew up in Toronto, Canada, and has a passion for saving the environment and the animals that live there. She is a recent graduate from Queen's University in Canada where she studied Biology and played for the varsity volleyball team. For two years of university, she worked in a lab that studied the conservation genetics of seabirds in Canada. She also completed her undergraduate honours thesis in the use of green biotechnology for synthesis of nanoparticles. Alex first volunteered with Wildlife Sense in 2020 while visiting family in Greece and re-discovered her love of working with animals in the field.

John and Paulette Lee

Paulette and John 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 Bio photo

Harry Thomas

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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