If you would have told me that one day I’d be sleeping on a beach, in a beautiful foreign country, under a star filled sky all whilst protecting vulnerable loggerhead turtles, I probably would have laughed my head off saying “and where did I get the money to do all that?”. Well, thanks to the Go Abroad Fund, that’s exactly what I managed to do.
I’ll admit, I had some apprehensions before I went to Kefalonia. I wholly believed that I wanted to use my veterinary degree in wildlife and conservation, tackling the problems of plastic pollution in marine life. However, this was my first true taste of these problems and I was nervous that I would turn up, find this wasn’t for me at all, that I couldn’t help as much as I believed and then have to rethink my future career path. Fortunately, that was not the case. Far from it.
Since volunteering with WildlifeSense, I have never felt more certain that my choices and actions for our planet and its wildlife can make a difference. Along with other volunteers I helped relocate at risk turtle nests, I patrolled Argostoli harbour: monitoring the number of turtles, their interactions with each other as well as documenting their foraging behaviour, I stood over hatchlings making their way to sea to give them shadow from the sun, I saw on my first day a turtle in the harbour break free from a line of plastic it had around its back and then immediately fished the plastic out of the water. I slept next to protected nests and woke up every hour to check if there were hatchlings ready to go to sea. The feeling of knowing that without volunteers like myself these turtles wouldn’t stand a chance is something I’ll never forget and always be grateful to be part of.
I saw first-hand the damaging effects of light pollution from beach bars and learned the complex relationship between the owners and volunteers but also took comfort in the fact that by staying with the nests at night, protecting the hatchlings from light pollution as well as surveying the intensity of the light pollution all combined together to make a positive difference for the loggerhead turtles. I also met so many amazing people, some now I hope to be lifelong friends. Sharing a common goal with others from completely different backgrounds and bonding over that whilst working together gave me a true sense of hope for our future.I know now that I was right to want to do this, to be part of the solution for the current plastic and climate issues we face today. Thanks to the Go Abroad Fund they have not only stopped my financial circumstances preventing me going out and furthering the impact of my degree but have shown that they believe anyone, no matter wherever they come from, deserves the chance to leave the world a better place for all. Especially for the turtles.