Lixouri Field Station
This week in Lixouri we reluctantly said goodbye to our first few volunteers but happily welcomed many more. The enthusiasm and diligence that this group have already exhibited definitely bodes well for the rest of the season, and the success of each and every shift. Both the team and sea turtles are really getting into the swing of things now! As we progress further into June, edging closer to peak nesting season, we’re recording more and more turtle tracks on the beaches during morning surveys. We were all very pleased to find our third nest on the Vatsa survey area earlier this week. The nest was located on a particular area of beach which isn’t surveyed daily, and so Field Leader Josh’s curiosity to see what was around the corner certainly paid off! This area had a nest with a very successful hatching rate during the 2020 season so we’re hopeful for a similar outcome this year.
The arrival of new volunteers also brings necessary training days and activities. It is extremely important for everyone to receive full training in order to feel confident in their abilities, while also understanding the significance and reasoning behind every shift carried out here at the project. Our first GPS training game of the season was a huge success. The volunteers explored Lixouri in order to record the GPS coordinates of the teams’ favourite food spots, and their hard work was celebrated with a refreshing treat once they had finished!
Night surveys have commenced, much to the delight of both the team and eager volunteers. Wednesday night brought thundery skies and flashes of lightning, so the team had to temporarily take shelter while on shift. However, in this short period of time, a sea turtle emerged from the sea, leaving behind both a track in the sand and a very frustrated team! Fortunately, Thursday night brought better weather as well as an encounter with a well known turtle. While patrolling the beach during the later half of the survey, a sea turtle was spotted making her way back to sea. The team acted fast and soon were scanning the turtle for microchips, checking her flippers for metal tags and taking measurements. The familiar chirp from the scanner made it clear to the team that this turtle was already microchipped, and upon further examination, she was identified as Danielle - a female loggerhead known to the team for frequently nesting in the Lixouri area over the years.
Kayla, one of the volunteers on shift, spoke about her experience; “It was incredible to brush the sand off her carapace and see the bioluminescent algae glow. I learned a ton about the anatomy of a sea turtle and saw up close how amazing these ancient creatures really are.”
With another jam-packed week on the horizon, the team works on with high expectations and excitement for the rest of the month, and of course a desire to keep you all updated as the weekly story unfolds!
Written by Alison Considine
Argostoli Field Station
To begin with what has been unusual about the past week, on Tuesday one of our volunteers captured video footage of two turtles mating by the harbour - a surprising sight so late in the season! Across the water from the harbour, in the marina (an area which in previous years had been very little surveyed), our teams have also seen significant numbers of turtles. We think that this development could possibly be the result of more regular boat traffic.
It now being the middle of June, our teams monitoring the beaches in the morning have had to wake up ten minutes earlier than the week before. This has not been without its rewards: already several volunteers have been given the opportunity to witness a turtle returning to the sea after laying her nest on Megali Ammos. The Avithos beaches in general have seen a lot of activity this week, with eight nests being recorded there in total. The count for the Airport beaches, by comparison, is four nests - and zero for Lassi.
In wildlife news unrelated to turtles, two sparrows have built a nest in the roof above the balcony of a room in our accommodation. The volunteers currently living in the room get to enjoy watching the birds as they fly back and forth delivering food to their chicks.
It has also been an active week recreationally. On Saturday, a large group of volunteers decided to cycle all the way into Argostoli and catch the ferry to Lixouri, where they explored a beach some miles from the town centre. On Wednesday, the volleyball session that had been planned was cancelled due to a brief but heavy spell of rain. In its place, the volunteers gathered upstairs for a viewing of Mamma Mia.
Later in the week we had another tagging event, during which an untagged turtle was found with a fishing line coming out of its cloaca. The team took him to the vet for an x-ray, which didn’t show any hooks, so he could then be released. We expect the line will pass naturally but the team will be keeping an eye out for the turtle, now named Pablo, at the harbour.
Written by Jacob Shale