Sea Turtle Conservation Volunteer Project, Greece

Become a sea turtle volunteer and work with sea turtles in Greece. Volunteer with sea turtles in Kefalonia and get hands on marine conservation experience.

This video showcases the conservation activities at this project and includes an interview with the project’s co-founder.

Find out more about this project at: https://www.workingabroad.com/projects/sea-turtle-conservation-volunteer-project-greece/

TRANSCRIPT

[Interviewer:] What do you love about turtles, and why are they so important to you?

[Nikos Vallianos:] They’re just very majestic. I’ve always loved the sea, and the sea turtles. I just love the way they swim in the water, it’s so calm and slow; very efficient!

And they’re also a very ancient animal, they’ve existed for millions of years. The planet has changed, and the turtles, they’ve changed as well, and they’ve adapted, but they’re pretty similar, for the last however many million years.

[Interviewer:] I mean, how do you see the future for turtles then? The way we’re treating the planet these days?

[Nikos Vallianos:] Not very good. I always try to be hopeful, and I think it’s important to make an effort to preserve them. Sea turtles use areas that are similar to the most, most visited by tourists, so they need a Mediterranean climate, in the case of Greek sea turtles. They need sandy beaches – they cannot just go to a not-so-nice beach, they need what we consider the most beautiful beaches. Perfect sand, enough distance from the sea, but not too far away, without any disturbances, and they need a quiet beach so they can go out at night without any disturbance, and that’s what we humans prize as the most majestic touristic destinations.

So we all go there, and that’s where the turtles need to reproduce. And they don’t go there for leisure like we do, they actually need it to survive. And that’s a very big conflict, and then the reason why there’s a conflict is not because it’s necessary, but because there is a lot of ignorance. So people who are trying to make a buck, they’re trying to make money off tourism, and that’s not necessarily a bad thing, but when you go and use an animal’s habitat, it’s very important to respect what that animal needs. Especially if it’s possible to actually have both. Then I am sometimes astounded by why we don’t have that.

And I talk with local people, as much as I can, and a lot of people just don’t have the time to worry about these things, and it’s really sad to me, because it doesn’t take a lot to protect sea turtles, and to actually have a sustainable amount of tourism. That’s a very important aspect of the project; to educate local people.

[Interviewer:] What motivates you to do this work?

[Nikos Vallianos:] It’s just a life… that’s just my life. I have decided many years ago – I used to work as a computer programmer, and then one day I went and volunteered in a conservation project. I didn’t really think much of it, I just always loved nature, and I thought, oh, I’m just gonna go and volunteer, and see what it’s like. Just over a short experience. And I remember on the first night I arrived at the project, I saw a turtle nesting right in front of me. And that was it, I just fell in love, not just with turtles but with this effort that’s done by many people around the world, to actually protect sea turtles.

We know that our ancestors evolved on this world to survive, to have enough food, but today we don’t live in that world. We actually make much more than enough food for ourselves to survive, so I think that most people should be working towards protecting the planet, protecting humans, and trying to make our world better. I fail to see why we should work towards things that are just for our entertainment.

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