I was fortunate enough to receive the principals go abroad fund which allowed me to travel out to Zakynthos, a small island of Greece, and volunteer with The Sea Turtle Conservation Society of Greece (also known as Archelon) for what was meant to be for 4 weeks but turned in to 6 weeks because I loved it so much. I wanted to volunteer for this particular organisation because it relies heavily on volunteers to carry out the important work they do for protecting the loggerhead turtle populations and their nests, they also give a lot of responsibilities to the volunteers to carry out and lead beach monitoring surveys and presentations to tourists and locals. The main thing I was worried about before I left for Greece was how much hands-on experience I would actually get in turtle conservation with Archelon, this worry was short-lived as when I arrived I was scheduled in for many morning and night surveys, as well as presentations and information sessions. One of my favourite memories from this was being able to complete a night survey and morning survey on a beach called Sekania (this beach is closed to the public as it was bought by the WWF a few years back), we spent 16 hard-working hours on the beach and got to watch over 30 turtles make their nests and lay their eggs under the light of the moon and the milky way which was a truly magical experience and I feel immensely privileged to be able to witness something so amazing. I learned so many things during this experience, firstly how much dedication, time and effort it takes to make a conservation programme like this work effectively in order to improve sea turtle populations, secondly I learned about the biology and behaviours of sea turtles and why human activities as well as climate change are threatening to extinct these populations. My time in Greece is a time I will cherish forever as I met so many amazing friends and saw/did so many amazing things. This experience has ignited my love for animals even more and I feel much more confident about following a career path down the route of conservation and research of animals and the environment. Following this experience, I would also love to be able to write my dissertation around the nesting activity of sea turtles in Greece and use the knowledge and experience I have from my time volunteering with Archelon.
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