By Ursula Dallman
I was lucky enough to spend my summer on an internship with the Archipelagos Institute of Marine Conservation. The 2-month internship was located on the Greek Island of Samos, 1.5km from Turkey. I met so many amazing people and truly had the summer of my life.
As a member of the macroplastic team, I organised beach clean-ups and assessed the influx of waste items into the Aegean Sea and onto specific beaches and coastal sites of Samos, as part of a 12-month study. The study aims to determine if the source of litter is anthropogenic or marine, and to increase awareness of the effects of marine plastic pollution on the Aegean Sea. Here are the findings after just 5 minutes!
I conducted bioacoustics-based surveys using kayaks to monitor monk seal populations within a specific area, and to see if an increase in ambient noise causes a decrease in their population.
I also observed dissections, including that of Golden Jackal, turtle, and dolphin digestive systems, which focused further on the diet of the animal and whether any plastics could be identified. A dissected turtle was found to have a plastic bag in its intestine.
Furthermore, I worked with the terrestrial team, investigating the insect biodiversity of Samos Island by setting up transects in different environments around the island and identifying the insects caught in the lab. 3 methods were used: pitfall trapping, light trapping, and aerial trapping. Here is me taking a (not so) well-deserved break from planting these traps.
As part of the media team I produced an eco-navigation booklet and observation sheet to be used by sea enthusiasts, sailors, and tourists. This allows us to increase the data in our citizen science database on the location and behaviour of marine mammals in the Aegean Sea and other parts of the Mediterranean. I also collaborated on Archipelagos social media accounts, aiming to increase the number of followers and raise awareness of conservation within the Aegean Sea.
There was also lots of time to experience Greece and all it had to offer. One of the highlights was hiking and camping on Mount Kerkis, an extinct volcano that reaches a height of 1433m. It was definitely worth the trek for the stunning sunrise and sunset.
The nearest town, Pythagorio, was gorgeous and just walking around, I felt like I was in Mamma Mia. I could’ve burst into an ABBA song at any moment. We even watched Mamma Mia 2 in a traditional outdoor cinema whilst eating homemade Loukoumades (Greek donuts with Honey and Walnuts).
I also spent a weekend in Athens, which was one of the best experiences of my life. I watched the lunar eclipse on top of the Acropolis, walked through a traditional Greek flea market, I saw Hadrian Library, the Acropolis museum, the Parthenon, Ancient Agora, and the beautiful district of Plaka.