Zakynthos, also called Zante, is a Greek island in the Ionian Sea, 20 Km off the coast of mainland Greece. Mountains extend along the sea coast, in the Western part of the island while fertile valleys spread through the Southern part. Zakynthos has a typical Mediterranean climate, with a lot of days of sunshine and frequent showers in the winter. As is the case with other “green” Ionian islands, Zakynthos is very rich in flora.
Zakynthos’ beaches provide nesting ground for a loggerhead turtle population, the Caretta-Caretta. The bay of Laganas in particular, is the most important nesting region in the Mediterranean for the Caretta-Caretta. For this reason the area has been established as a National Marine Park. Every year, between June and August, the turtles lay their eggs in the sand. After an incubation period of 55 days, the Caretta-Caretta babies hatch and make their way to the sea. The survival rate, however, is very low as not all the eggs are hatched and very few hatchlings (1 or 2 out of 1000) will eventually reach adulthood. It is therefore very important that the nests and the turtles are protected during incubation and maturing.
ARCHELON – The Sea Turtle Protection Society of Greece – is a non-profit organization whose purpose is to protect the Caretta-Caretta and see that the bay of Laganas (as well as other nesting sites around Greece) is as safe as possible and that it continues to facilitate the reproduction of the turtles. ARCHELON was successful in putting pressure on the Greek government in order to pass legislation that would ensure Laganas Bay as a protected habitat and also ensure that the thriving tourism industry of Zakynthos did not impact the turtles’ biotope. Volunteer work is offered by ARCHELON to interested individuals between May-October every year. Volunteers attending the summer programme will work in:
- Nest management and habitat protection
- Public awareness
- Maintenance and day-to-day duties
To learn more about what these tasks may entail or to apply for volunteer work with ARCHELON visit the organization’s official website.
In Europe, a lot of the major airlines fly to Zakynthos. If you want to go by boat you must drive or take the bus to Kylini, located in North-West Peloponnese, more than 100 Km away from Athens. Ships to Zakynthos don’t depart from the port of Piraeus. You can fly to Zakynthos via Athens from any destination covered by Olympic Airways.
- AHCHELON Volunteer program
- More about Zakynthos (Zante)
- Saving the Caretta Caretta turtles on Zakynthos