A day in the life of a volunteer in Lixouri

Day 1

“Early this morning we cycled to Megas Lakkos and Xi, two of the nesting beaches with red sand in the south. We found and protected my third nest! There was a new volunteer in the team who’d just finished her training yesterday, making for a great opportunity to explain to her more about how to find and protect the nests. After walking the rest of the beaches looking for tracks, we had a quick swim and returned back to the field station around noon.

“When everyone returned from their morning shifts, we took the ferry across the bay to visit Argostoli and see the turtles in the harbour. It was also a good chance to do some shopping and pick up a few souvenirs. I was on the rota to cook that evening so I headed back at half 5 to help get dinner ready for 7pm. Shortly after dinner I helped the night survey team pack their tagging equipment and light pollution meter. Then it was time to relax before going to bed.”

Day 2

“I went on another morning survey today, but this one was to Lepeda, a beach I hadn’t surveyed before. We weren’t expecting to see any nests hatch, but as we checked the nests we found hatchling tracks coming from the first nest laid in the season. We counted the tracks and made sure they all headed to the sea. We were excited to tell the rest of the team when we went back to the field station. After lunch, we went down to the beach to play some volleyball and have a swim. I headed back a bit earlier to have a nap because I'm on night survey tonight! I woke up just in time for dinner and our weekly meeting. We now have 18 nests!

“The field assistant and I packed the night survey bag after dinner and headed down to the beach to begin our shift looking for emerging female turtles. Around two in the morning we spotted a turtle as she crawled onto the beach from the sea. We waited for her to lay her nest, which was extraordinary to watch and then the field assistant trained me how to measure her carapace and conduct a general health exam. She wasn’t tagged so we tagged, allowing her to have her own identification number, and then off she went back to the sea. My heart is still racing!”

Day 3

“We didn’t see any more turtles last night, but I still can’t believe we saw one so close and while she was nesting. The morning survey team was thrilled to protect her nest when they arrived on the beach. I slept in and then had a late breakfast with everyone returning from shift. I only had data entry in the morning which we did on the balcony whilst enjoying a Greek frappé!

“Later in the afternoon, I cycled with the team to the nesting beaches to conduct the beach profile shift. Since I’ve been here I’ve noticed the beaches changing allowing me to understand why we must monitor the nest’s distance to sea throughout its incubation. During this shift we found that from the beginning of the season the beach has become four meters shorter in width! When we arrived back at the field station, we reported our findings to the Field Leader who is going to have a look at the data and assess if nest relocations are necessary. I can’t wait to find out more tomorrow!”