Our Year Round Team in Kefalonia

Chanel Comis
Chanel Comis

Chanel’s devotion 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 vulnerable 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. Soon after she co-founded Wildlife Sense where she now enjoys spending her days working with others to protect sea turtles in Kefalonia, where her family is from.

Nikos Vallianos
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. This led him to co-found Wildlife Sense where, aside from helping run the overall operation, he can specialize in technical instrumentation for research as well as the investigation and response to violations against wildlife and the natural environment.

Annya McKenzie
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.

As Programme Coordinator, 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
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, recently completing his master’s in Marine Biology!

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, before permanently joining the family in 2021. In 2020 he conducted 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 or looking at excels you will most likely find him running around the harbour with either his camera or in his wetsuit!

Dimitris Pylarinos

Dimitris’ love for animals and the environment in general developed from a very young age. One of his favorite activities as a child was exploring Kefalonia island and its natural beauties both on land and at the sea surrounding it. He would spend hours reading books and watching documentaries about his favorite species, which included sea turtles of course, as he would often see them visiting the local beaches. This passion for wildlife led Dimitris to study Biology at Ioannina University, having a dream of becoming an animal researcher. He did his internship at Ainos national park, where he studied the unique semi-wild horses inhabiting the mountain. He graduated with a master’s degree in animal science and specifically in locomotive and behavioral analysis. The year following, he got to know Wildlife Sense and took part in their activities, immediately recognizing it would be the most suitable environment for him. Going forward a little while and he is now a proud member of the team, helping with the protection and research of our favorite turtle friends.

Charlotte Holden

Charlotte is originally from the Isle of Wight and has a BA in Primary Education with Geography and QTS. She is a qualified Teacher with experience working with children ranging from infants to teenagers, specialising in children with complex Social, Emotional and Mental Health needs. She moved to Kefalonia in 2020 and has always been passionate about the environment and protecting it. Charlotte started volunteering with Wildlife Sense in 2018 and loved working with the team and learning about sea turtles. Charlotte is now really excited and feels privileged to join the Wildlife Sense family permanently helping run their Education Program. Finding the first tracks, nests and helping the hatchlings to sea has always been something Charlotte is extremely passionate about. Now Charlotte is looking forward to working with both the sea turtle and coastal conservation projects. She believes education plays a vital role in the conservation and protection of the environment and is pleased that this new role with Wildlife Sense will enable her to share her passion.
In her spare time, Charlotte will be out exploring the natural beauty Kefalonia has to offer.

Lorna and Ray Gilbert
Lorna and Ray Gilbert

Lorna and Ray have been living in Kefalonia since 2008 and have been volunteers with Wildlife Sense since 2015. They became interested in turtle conservation after seeing a turtle hatchling emerge from a nest on Megali Ammos beach on a hot summer afternoon.

From May to October each summer they, together with other volunteers, find and protect the sea turtle nests and record data in the Lourdas area. They also get involved with turtle tagging events at the harbour and other projects. One of their favourite experiences was helping to release Finn, a rehabilitated hatchling, in November 2019.

When they are not walking the beaches they enjoy rambling and exploring the Island. They have made many friends and shared many experiences during their time with Wildlife Sense.

Gill and David Green
Gill and David Green

Gill and David both grew up in England, they met when Gill started teaching in London. David was a scientist and later a medical instrument service engineer, travelling widely in Europe, the Middle East and the USA.
They retired to the island in 2014 and in 2016 began to assist with nest inventories in the Lourdas area and was immediately hooked. The following year Gill was also hooked, and both have worked continuously on beach patrols every summer and in both summer and winter assist with turtle tagging events. David is working at headquarters on rebuilding a turtle skeleton for use as a teaching aid. In addition, from June to September they also put up a display at Klimatis Taverna every Tuesday explaining the work of Wildlife Sense and informing visitors and locals alike on the life and times of the sea turtles.

Our Seasonal Team

Harry Thomas
Harry Thomas

Harry is from Shropshire, England and has a BA in wildlife media and an MA in acting. He has been involved with Wildlife Sense since 2015 as a volunteer, field leader and field coordinator, his favourite shift has always been night survey observation and tagging of nesting females.

Shirley and Michael Ogden
Shirley and Michael Ogden

Shirley and Michael moved to Kefalonia from the UK in January 2004. When Wildlife Sense was formed, they decided to join a dedicated group of people. The first few years they helped with locating and protecting turtle nests and seeing hatchlings making their way into the ocean. The last few years have seen them at the Harbour of Argostoli answering questions from tourists about the life of our resident turtles. 

Poppy Oliver

Poppy has been part of the core team for the last five years, first volunteering with Wildlife Sense in 2018! When not in Kefalonia, she’s worked with leatherbacks in Costa Rica and is currently studying in Manchester for an MSc in GIS. She loves working on the beaches and snorkelling in the sea (hopefully with a turtle or two!).

Caitlin Birks
Caitlin Birks

Caitlin is from Newcastle and studied Animal behaviour with Psychology for her BSc and Animal Psychology for her MSc at the University of Chester. Caitlin has many favourite shifts, she loves morning surveys because you never know what you might find, but she also really loves going to the harbour and getting to see the turtles swimming around.

Emily Simpson
Emily Simpson

Emily is currently studying law at Exeter University and has a passion for conservation. Her favourite shift is at the harbour, where you can see turtles foraging and interacting. Also, the ice cream there is amazing! In her free time, she can be found at the beach or snorkelling.

Jess Butler

Jess is from Devon and is currently studying for her masters in Biodiversity Conservation at Bournemouth University. One of her main highlights of Wildlife Sense was getting to be involved with nest inventories, seeing the turtles hatch, and helping them safely make their way to the sea.

Charlotte Howard
Charlotte Howard

I am from Godalming, England and study Ecology and Wildlife conservation at Bournemouth University. I have always loved being outdoors and am extremely passionate about wildlife conservation. I first volunteered at Wildlife Sense in Summer 2022 and had the most amazing time helping sea turtles, I especially loved experiencing night shifts and helping the hatchlings safely to sea! 

Annabel Bradley
Annabel Bradley

Annabel is from East Yorkshire and she fell in love with sea turtles and conservation after her first visit to Wildlife Sense in 2019. She has returned to the project ever since whilst completing her degree in Environmental Science. When Annabel is not spotting turtles along the harbour or on the beach finding tracks, she loves to spend her time eating vegan souvlaki and napping in a hammock.

Claire Roche
Claire Roche

Claire from Newcastle upon Tyne and studied Zoology at the University of Leeds. Her favourite Wildlife Sense shift is going out on inventories, as she loves to see hatchlings take their first breath when they enter the sea. She also loves to sunbathe and snorkel in her free time and hopefully spot some turtles too! 

Molly Edwards

Molly is from Cambridge England and is super excited to come back to the project for her 3rd year. She loves to travel and encounter different marine life, especially turtles. Her favourite shifts are the inventories and getting to see all the hatchlings taking their first breaths.

Lilian Goldack
Lilly Goldack

Lilian is from Germany and always looks forward to meeting new people that’s one of her favourite things about Wildlife Sense. She loves that people come together from all around the world to work together. Lilian’s expressed that her time as a volunteer was a ‘once-in-a-lifetime experience’, and she is incredibly excited to be part of the Wildlife Sense team this year. 

Madeleine McKenna

Maddie is from a small village in Essex and is currently enjoying studying Marine Biology at Bangor University in North Wales. Her favourite shift at Wildlife Sense is harbour shifts as it is such a special experience observing the adult turtles behaviours and interactions. In her spare time she can be found swimming, snorkelling and exploring Kefalonia!

Kathryn Hooper

Kathryn is from West Wales and lives right next to the beach. When Kathryn isn’t studying International Politics and Environmental Science at The Open University, she’s found in the sea, surfing, or paddle boarding. Kathryn first volunteered in June 2023 and loved the project so much that she returned in October for the month. Kathryn’s favourite shifts are tagging because of how hands-on you can get with the turtles!

Cara Jackson

Cara is from Cheshire, England and has a degree in marine biology. She has been going to Greece from a young age and found her love for marine animals there. Cara volunteered with the project twice in 2023, during mating season and hatching season. Her favourite shift is tagging as you get to be hands-on with the turtles. During her days off she can be found at the beach and swimming in the sea!

Charlotte George

Charlotte is from West Yorkshire, UK, and is a medical student at Keele University. Her first-time volunteering with Wildlife Sense was in 2023 and she loved every minute of it. Her favourite shifts are the tagging shifts because she loves the excitement of running down the bridge when a turtle has been spotted. In her spare time, you can often find Charlotte on the beach. Charlotte can’t wait to come back and make more incredible memories.

Alicia Pettitt

Alicia is from the South of England and has always had a strong love for the ocean and animals. Since volunteering in Greece, she has developed a passion for conservation and a great love for turtles. She has recently graduated from uni and is hoping to pursue a career in Environmental Law to help in the efforts to protect the planet.

Beth Watt

Beth is from Scotland. She volunteered in 2022 and her favourite part of volunteering at Wildlife Sense was having the opportunity to meet new people from different countries and being able to experience turtles making their way into the sea!

Phill Davison
Phill Davison

Phill has been volunteering with Wildlife Sense since 2013. He supports volunteers in Lixouri, working on nesting beaches on the Paliki peninsula. His background is Environmental Science, and he is a retired teacher. Phill is always looking forward to another exciting season ready for those early morning patrols or an emergency nest relocation.

Jodi Morgan
Jodi Morgan

Jodi first volunteered with Wildlife Sense in 2017 during the summer. She immediately fell in love with the project, Kefalonia, and of course the turtles! Since then, she has been back to Kefalonia almost every year since and joined the core team for the first time as a field assistant in 2021. During her days off, Jodi can usually be found turtle spotting at Argostoli harbour or drinking coffee in one of the bakeries.

Giles Blunt

Giles from Cambridge, England. He’s super excited to be back with Wildlife Sense in Kefalonia for the fourth year running. Walking the beaches at night under the beautiful skies looking for nesting females is just magical, and he loves going for a snorkel in the crystal clear water on his rest days.

Ellen Broadfield

Ellen is from a seaside village, near Bournemouth, England and studied Zoology at Southampton University, where she first discovered Wildlife Sense. She loves that Wildlife Sense is so multinational because you get to meet such a variety of people. Night surveys are her favourite shift, especially when you get to watch a female nesting!

Rosie MacAulay

Roșie is from the highlands in Scotland and studies medicine at Glasgow university. her favourite shift is walking Megan Lakkos looking for nesting females on night survey. She has always lived on the coast and loves snorkelling, swimming, and anything to do with open water!

Imogen Graham

Imogen has recently graduated from Lancaster University, where she studied Geography. In her free time, she really enjoys climbing, so during her days off you will often find her searching for a rock to cling to! Imogen’s favourite shift is Vatsa Morning Survey because it has some of her favourite beaches.

Evie Matthews

Evie is from Norwich and enjoys all things nature and wildlife! Her favourite Wildlife Sense shifts are the morning cycles to Megas Lakkos and Vatsa. In her free time in Kefalonia, you will see her trying to talk to the turtles!

Emma Hawkes

Emma is from London, England and will be based in Argostoli and Skala this season. Emma loves to do nest inventories and see all the hatchlings crawl safely to sea. She studied Sociology at University and has since started a master’s in Animal Welfare. She loves learning how we can really make a difference for animals all over the world.

Josh Fisk

Josh is from a small village close to Norwich. For his degree, he studied history at the University of East Anglia but now feels more drawn toward conservation particularly after his experience with Wildlife Sense last year. Although it is hard to choose from the many great experiences at Wildlife Sense, his favourite shifts were hatchling rescue and inventories.

Zak Draper

Zak is from Leicester, UK and his favourite thing about Wildlife Sense is the community that is created by bringing people together and forming lifelong friendships all whilst contributing to a great cause. He is feeling very lucky to be able to join the team this year.

Lucy Brown

Lucy is from a town near Reading, UK and has previously volunteered with Wildlife Sense at the end of 2023. She studied Animal management at The Berkshire College of Agriculture and has a real passion for animals and conservation. In addition, she enjoys crafts, going on walks and travelling.

Alix Hörmannsdorfer

Alix comes from France and has a degree in geology. She fell in love with the programme when she came as a volunteer and is excited to be a member of the team this year. Her favourite activities are morning surveys during sunrise and snorkelling.

Isabelle McCloskey

Isabelle is from Coventry, England and is studying towards her MBio at the University of Warwick. She first volunteered with the project in the summer of 2022 which inspired her to focus her studies on ecology and conservation. Her favourite shift is the night shift, nothing can top the excitement of seeing hatchlings at 3 am!

Emma Masters

Emma is from Exeter, England and is currently studying Psychology at University. She loved volunteering at Skala last year and is passionate about protecting marine wildlife! Emma’s favourite shifts are the snorkel surveys because she loves being in the water. She can’t wait to explore more of Kefalonia and see turtles.

Mia Holman
Mia Holman

Mia’s passion for the marine environment was planted at a young age, having grown up by the sea and spending my spare moments exploring local marine ecosystems, surfing and lifeguarding. After first volunteering with Wildlife Sense in the summer of 2021, she fell in love with the project and discovered a love for field work and conservation – especially finding new nests on a morning survey!

Laura Hartshorn

Laura is from North Yorkshire! Her favourite shifts are morning surveys, particularly Megas Lakkos and Avithos Morning Surveys! In my free time you will find me ordering take away pizza or playing card games!

Grace How
Grace How

Grace is currently studying Politics and International Relations. Her favourite Wildlife Sense shift has to be night shifts or morning surveys as she loves watching the sunsets and sunrises! You can find her trying to become besties with every animal in sight, snorkelling or listening to her Gilmore girl’s playlist. 

Millie Lewin

Millie’s passion for helping both people and animals started at a young age. Since first volunteering with Wildlife Sense in 2021, Millie has just kept returning, gaining valuable volunteer experience. As a recent graduate with a Fine Art Painting degree, her artistic passion adds a creative dimension to her conservation efforts as you can often find her sketching hatchlings or drawing the various animals that live within the Wildlife Sense community.

Alex Childs

Alex first volunteered in 2023 and found an immediate affinity for the sea turtle conversation project. He is currently studying Marine Biology at Bangor University and grew up in South Wales. He loves photography and being close to the sea and his favourite shift is hatchling rescue where he gets to spend the night on the beaches.

Josh Ali

Josh is from North London! After graduating from his maths and physics degree Josh first volunteered in 2021. His favourite shift is a morning cycle up to Vatsa to survey the beaches. In his spare time, you can often find Josh playing cards on the balcony.

Anna Judson

Anna is British and Swiss and is currently studying Zoology at the University of Leeds. She first volunteered with Wildlife sense in 2021 where she fell in love with turtles and was able to continue sharing her passion for wildlife conservation. Her favourite shift is a morning survey finding nests or a night shift helping hatchlings to sea.

Ned Townsend

Ned is studying History and Politics in Manchester. Out of all the great experiences at Wildlife Sense, he thinks the top 3 are finding your first nest on a morning survey, sunset swims, and making lifelong friends from all over the world.

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