If you plan to visit Athens and are looking for a meaningful experience, there’s 1 place to go: The Sea Turtle Rescue Center along the Athens Riviera. Europe’s biggest Turtle Rescue Center is run by Archelon, the Sea turtle protection society. Little known fact: Greece is the European country with the most sea turtle nests. And this is the turtle’s veterinary hospital.
What to expect on a Sea Turtle Rescue Center Tour?
Our small group arrived on a Sunday morning at 11:00 AM. At the end of winter 2020, just before the Coronavirus travel ban. That is, everyone but 1 couple that came by tram. They showed up a little later, due to some mix-up with the tram lines, so it’s a good idea to carefully check out this Urban Rail Transport website before taking of.
When we all got together our friendly Archelon host welcomed us.
We walked alongside large outdoor basins, designed for adult sea turtles. During wintertime, you will see typically fewer animals being cared for. In Summer most of these large outdoor basins will be filled with Loggerhead Sea Turtles (Caretta caretta) and occasionally other turtle species: green turtles (Chelonia mydas) and most unlikely the giant leatherbacks (Dermochelys coriacea).
After hearing the first intriguing turtle facts we could freely shoot our questions. In Greek and English, the 2 languages used in this tour.
A short walk led us to the section with the sheltered basins. It is a little warmer here for the sick and injured patients. Here you get to see the injured turtles. Our host explained us that some patients are stressed out easily and those turtles are not even shown to the public.
Sea turtles here may suffer from a range of injuries including:
- Flipper injuries
- Head injuries
- Carapace (the hard upper–shell) injuries
- Hook & line ingestions
- Fishing gear entanglements
- Plastic ingestions
Some turtles you will see are just weak, having suffered from hypothermia or fishing gear entanglements.
Next: we walked along the Sea Turtle Information Boards. With information of all the 3 turtle species’ behavior, a map of the Mediterranean Sea, information on the nesting grounds and more. By now, the small children in our group got restless and therefore we had to move on. Clearly it was too much data for our lively little boys, even though thousands of school children get their environmental education here each year. The 2 sea turtle movies in the small theater however, held their attention right till the very end!
The tour ends in the Archelon gift shop. Here we got the Certificate of Adoption.
The talk with one of the volunteers, a marine biologist student from the USA was inspiring for the teenager in our group, who aspires to become a biologist himself.
Sea Turtle Rescue Center Tour price
We paid 50 EURO for the entire group. This tour has a maximum of 10 participants. All proceedings go to Sea Turtle Conservation. You get a Sea Turtle Adoption Certificate in the end. The entire experience lasted around 50 minutes.
Sea Turtle Volunteering Opportunities
The operation and maintenance of the Rescue Centre is mainly run by volunteers. There are volunteer opportunities all year round. Do not expect to volunteer for just a couple of days. Think more in terms of weeks. Get your up-to-date information on volunteering in the Sea Turtle Rescue Center HERE.
Not enough time on your hands for long-term volunteering? Check out the Greece Sea Turtle Conservation Holiday with 9-day duration. Not only will you experience this Sea Turtle Rescue Center tour, you will also head to volunteer on the sandy beaches in the Peloponnese afterward! To protect the nests, make a difference and meet new friends in a remote, stunning corner of Greece.
How to get there?
From Athens city it is a mere 15 kilometers (10 miles) away and, it will take you less than 1 hour to reach it.
The address: 3rd Marina of Glyfada, Glyfada Greece. It is located right at the waterfront. Across the street from where the shops and restaurants are.
By taxi from Athens it is a 30-minute drive.
By tram from Athens 30-45 minutes on a wonderful coastal route. Latest tram schedule published on www.stasy.gr Take the line from Athens towards VOULA/ΒΟΥΛΑ and get off at “Paleo Dimarhio” tram station. The Sea Turtle Rescue Center is right on the waterfront, 200 meters walk away.
By Hop-on Hop-off bus – take the beach line and hop off at Glyfada beach (3rd Glyfada Marina).
How to book the Sea Turtle Rescue Center Tour?
For more up-to-date information and how to book visit this Archelon web page. It is best to make a phone call or book online before heading there.
All images by The Deer Traveler