Emma Eteen, June/July 2013
Working with wild sea turtles in Greece is an amazing experience that I will never forget. I went to Greece because I wanted more experience in marine field research and volunteering with Wildlife Sense has given me so much more.
I spent a month working with sea turtles in Greece two summers ago and it was one of the best decisions I have made. I heard about Wildlife Sense though my Uni and I booked on for a month, not knowing anyone and not sure what to expect. As soon as I got there everyone was really welcoming. There was always someone around to help out if you had any questions about anything and everything- and I had a lot! I have made friends from all over the world.
Observing turtle behavior in the harbor was really interesting. Not only were you able to watch the turtles feed and interact, it gave you the opportunity to talk to tourists and locals about turtles. From little kids to adults, everyone was interested in what we were doing and genuinely wanted to help. We also conducted beach patrols to look for and identify nests. Sometimes the nests are dangerously close to the sea or were laid under sunbeds and have to be relocated. The likelihood of turtle eggs reaching maturity is very slim so being able to give them the best chance possible is something I will never forget. Overall, Wildlife Sense was a brilliant opportunity that has taught me so much. Everyone I know who has been there loved it and couldn't wait to go back. Thank you Nikos and Chanel for a brilliant time!
Emma Eteen, University of East Anglia, UK
Coralie Bernardet, June 2014
I am a French MSc student in Marine Biology and I came to Kefalonia last summer to carry out a voluntary internship on sea turtles conservation. I was seeking a new experience as part of my courses and I lived an awesome month in the Wildlife Sense team. I already had some knowledge about sea turtle thanks to my studies that I could observe in the field thanks to my work as volunteer. I also have had the chance to improve my knowledge by working on light pollution impacts on adults and hatchlings sea turtles, which was a very interesting topic. More, I met a lot of wonderful people with who I spent 4 amazing weeks. I wish to everyone to live such an experience ! I hope to have the opportunity to go back to Kefalonia next summer and work again to protect these fascinating animals.
Coralie Bernardet, MSc student in Oceanography and Marine Environment, Pierre and Marie Curie University (Paris VI), France
Alice Bucker, August 2014
After finishing University I wanted to spend my summer doing something fun and enjoyable that also gave me some conservation experience. Volunteering with Wildlife Sense represented the perfect opportunity to do this and I loved every minute I spent on the island of Kefalonia. Learning about turtle tracks in the sand to locate nests, as well as turtle interactions at the harbour was an amazing experience and it was great to participate in so much field work. I will never forget being woken up by the sound of hatchlings on a boxing shift at the beach at 3am in the morning and the feeling of satisfaction as I watched them crawl down the trench and reach the sea safely. One of my highlights was finding a nest on morning survey and helping to relocate the eggs to a new, safer location further from the sea. I even enjoyed the early morning cycle rides and a trip to the local bakery for a spinach pie or chocolate brownie was always a great reward after the exercise. I would recommend this experience to everyone, what better way to spend your summer than being active and helping to protect turtles in the beautiful sunshine?
Dana Kolba, June 2013
I came to volunteer with Wildlife sense from Canada. I am passionate about animal welfare and the environment, and love to travel and learn about different cultures, which is what made me decide to volunteer with Wildlife Sense. Going down to Kefalonia, I didn't have any prior knowledge to sea turtles or marine wildlife. Wildlife Sense taught everyone everything I needed to know, plus some more. We got so much hands on experience, and in our spare time we went on an amazing tour of the island (which is truly breathtaking), were able to visit all the beaches, try all the food, and shop at the markets. It was a once in a life time opportunity that I am so grateful for, and if I ever get the chance, I will be back!
Dana Kolba from Canada!
Emily Roebuck, June and September 2014
I first travelled to Kefalonia after finishing my University degree, and I was more than ready for a break from textbooks and lectures. I have always been interested in conservation but had never before worked in the field and couldn’t wait to experience what the Wildlife Sense project had to offer. The first thing I noticed arriving on the project was the fantastically warm welcome I was given, and I immediately felt like part of the team. One of my favourite parts of the project was answering questions from interested tourists at the harbour on loggerhead turtles and being able to share with them all of the knowledge I had been taught. Meeting so many like-minded people from all over the world was definitely a highlight of my time on the project, and I have shared once-in-a-lifetime experiences with many new friends. Working with the project leaders and volunteers I feel lucky to have seen and participated in such active conservation with real hands-on experience, rather than learning about it from books. I had such an amazing time volunteering with Wildlife Sense I decided to return at the end of the season. I really enjoyed seeing the project full circle, starting off with finding and locating nests and finishing with calculating the success of nests after they had hatched. From finding tracks of a nesting turtle and watching the sun rise on the beach during morning surveys, to seeing hatchlings make it safely to sea and helping out with turtle rescues, volunteering with Wildlife Sense has definitely been the best thing I have ever done.
If you're looking for exciting hands on conservation experience, to be part of a great team and make lifelong friends and all set in a beautiful environment, this is the project for you! I know I'm counting down the days until I head back out to Kefalonia to have another turtle-y awesome time.
Emily Roebuck - University of Liverpool, UK
Marie Brandrud, August 2014
In August 2014 I travelled from the cold north (Norway) and arrived in sunny Kefalonia. I had just finished my masters degree on a genetic study of a northern/arctic plant group. I wanted to try something different and a friend told me of the possibility of volunteering for turtle conservation. I have always been very fascinated by marine biology and I thought it would be a great experience to work with animals.
With Wildlife Sense in Kefalonia I learned a lot about both turtles and conservation. It felt amazing to be part of a project that really means something and work in a team with other volunteers. Lastly it was wonderful to experience these turtles in their natural habitat, that is the beautiful Greek beaches.
Marie Brandrud, Norway
Mila Garfalska, September 2013
Hello, my name is Mila and I am an Ecology graduate from the University of East Anglia. Last year I was searching for a meaningful summer volunteering opportunity when I found out about Wildlife Sense. Their cause became extremely interesting and important to me and as an addition to my volunteering work with them I decided to collect data for my dissertation project. Its topic was "The effect of human-caused disturbance on the nest position, clutch size, emergence success and hatching success of Loggerhead sea turtle (Caretta caretta) on the island of Kefalonia, Greece."
I spent one month during the summer of 2013 with Wildlife Sense and this turned to be the best summer in my life so far. I enjoyed every single shift as a volunteer, especially the early morning harbour shifts during which I experienced the best encounters with grown up sea turtles. I also met amazing people who later became my friends. Additionally, for the first time in my life i slept on the beach, not one, but 4 or 5 night in a row, which was one of the peaks of my stay there. Our team leaders, teachers and friends Nikos and Chanel were always so cheerful, helpful, understanding and inspirational. They taught me so many things about the turtles, beaches, ways of conserving both nests and adults, and even how to educate and spread the concern for sea turtles around natives and tourists not only in Greece, but in UK as well. I am truly impressed by their work and so happy that I had the opportunity to be part of their team. I will remember this summer as the time when I did so many things for the first time, such as seeing alive adult sea turtle, hatchlings and sea turtle nests, talking to the coast guard about illegal fishing, sleeping on the beach while monitoring nest for any new hatchlings, being part of an excavation of a nest and holding multiple hatchlings and of course camping!
Volunteering with Wildlife Sense gave me more than knowledge and amazing experience. It gave me cause to believe in and fight for and an example that if you want something truly and deeply, you will succeed in it one day. Thank you Wildlife Sense!
Mila Garfalska - University of East Anglia, Norwich, UK.