Help protect the marine
and coastal
ecosystems

Snorkel, explore and learn in Kefalonia!

Apply now
  • Duration
    2-4 Weeks
  • Minimum age
    18+
  • Start dates every other Thurs between June & Sept
  • From
    £480
  • Duration
    2-4 Weeks
  • Minimum age
    18+
  • Start dates every other Thurs between June & Sept
  • From
    £480

Greece marine & coastal conservation

Help protect the large Posidonia seagrass meadows and sand dune systems that can be found around the beautiful island of Kefalonia, Greece.  You will contribute your time and skills to help collect vital data and help support critical marine conservation work. You will take part in hands-on research where you will be able to gain a deep understanding of the scientific methodologies used in the field and understand more about how marine ecosystems are impacted by direct human activities and by climate change.

You will split the majority of your time between exploring and snorkelling in the Posidonia seagrass meadows and understanding the extensive dune systems found. You will gain research experience, discover all the marine organisms that thrive within the area and explore the sand dunes and understand their critical role.

The programme focuses on the south east coast of Kefalonia, with the main project sites being located in Skala and Mounda. Skala is known for its many bakeries, tavernas and restaurants. It has a long, beautiful beach with water activity centers, beach volleyball, and is backed by restaurants and beach bars. Mounda is known for its tranquility and natural setting that has excellent snorkeling and pristine waters. A lovely place to relax.

Greece Marine Conservation

Snorkelling at Mounda beach has got to be one of the highlights of my time at the programme. On every snorkelling shift I was able to see all sorts of small organisms that call the seagrass their home. Learning about Posidonia has been a pretty remarkable experience, knowing that it’s a large... Read More

Annya McKenzieApril 2022

Background to the sea turtle programme

The local team have been engaged in conservation and research on the Greek island of Kefalonia since 2012. Along with protecting endangered sea turtles, they have also been monitoring the changes in beach profiles over time due to anthropogenic and environmental effects.

The team have now broadened their research to encompass the study of the protected Posidonia oceanica seagrass meadows and the sand dune systems – categorised as vulnerable and on the Red List. 

The programme focuses on the coastal and nearshore marine zone of the Mounda Peninsula. The seagrass meadows are a larger carbon sink than the rainforest and play a critical role in mitigating climate change. They form an important ecosystem, providing habitats and nursery grounds for many marine animals as well as other organisms.

The Posidonia oceanica conservation status was last assessed in 2018 around the Mediterranean by the European Environment Agency. The outcome from the study was that Posidonia was “poor” and the that the habitat is in a situation where a change in management or policy is required to return the habitat to favourable status.

On top of this, the programme will also focus on collecting data and protecting the sand dunes in the local area. Coastal sand-dune habitats are threatened, yet play a huge part in maintaining plant and animal biodiversity, which contribute to coastal protection. There has been a lack of research into dune system changes in Kefalonia, which highlights the need for future studies to focus on it.

This is where you and other amazing volunteers from around the world can help make a difference. Further studying of the posed threats to Posidonia is hugely important for the future of the species and the planet. You will play a vital part in collecting research data that can help make important and sustainable decisions by all in the near future. All of the data collected by the project will help create one of the most detailed datasets on the coastal and marine ecosystems in the area.

Where will I be volunteering?

The programme focuses on the south east coast of Kefalonia, with the main project sites being located in Skala and Mounda. Both beaches are located under 2km from the volunteer accommodation and you will make the short distance on push bikes in groups.

When snorkelling among the lush sea grass meadows you may spot colourful Rainbow Wrasses, Painted Combers, Common Soles, Scorpion fish, Needlefish, Moray Eels, Octopi, loads of Whelks, red star fish and Nudibranchs to name a few! Many of the marine areas monitored are within the protected Natura2000 sites that have sightings of turtles and seldomly monk seals or dolphin.

What is my role?

Volunteers will contribute their time and skills to help collect vital data and help support critical marine conservation work. You will take part in hands-on research where you will be able to gain a deep understanding of the scientific methodologies used in the field and understand more about how marine ecosystems are impacted by direct human activities and by climate change.

You will split the majority of your time between exploring the Posidonia seagrass meadows and understanding the extensive dune systems found. You will gain research experience, discover all the marine organisms that thrive within the area and explore the sand dunes and understand their critical role.

The coastal and marine study areas will be mapped with a drone at regular intervals. You do not need any drone skills, but you will have the opportunity to learn some of the latest uses of drones for environmental science.

Drone surveys over the sea will help locate seagrass meadows and plan snorkel surveys. When part of the snorkelling team, you will survey the nearshore area to collect geotagged photographs of the seagrass meadows. These will later be analysed to identify species, the types of meadows and their current state as well as changes over time.

On the shore, sand dunes will be surveyed by drone to create both topographic and three-dimensional maps, beach profiles and species identification surveys. The current state of the dunes will be studied and recorded so their trends can be tracked over time. 

When carrying out drone surveys, the presence of plastics and other detrimental factors will also be recorded and some volunteer shifts will focus on collecting those for recycling or disposal.

Not only this, but you will learn more about the importance of protecting the dunes and Posidonia ecosystems around Kefalonia. You will have a clearer understanding of current climate concerns and the impact these can have on both marine and terrestrial environments.

What will a typical day look like?

The field leaders will prepare a schedule / rota for each group of volunteers for the week ahead. Volunteers will rotate through all of the various activities, allowing you to gain experience with every aspect of the project as well as the research and conservation methodologies used.

Over the first couple of days in Kefalonia you will receive extensive training to ensure you are competent and happy to carry out all tasks involved. You will receive practical on the job training from local staff and have the opportunity to help safeguard Greece’s marine and coastal habitats and ecosystems.

Your volunteering days will be split into two shifts per day, morning and afternoon. 

The morning shifts will normally see you carrying out sand dune habitat surveys, species identification, vegetation studies and litter collecting starting at 5:30am and finishing around 9:30am. Another morning activity will be the assessment of Posidonia and geotagged photos to classify the sea floor.

The afternoon shifts will start around 3:30 / 4pm and will consist of in-water Posidonia surveys at Skala beach capturing geotagged photos of seagrass meadows, reviewing all of the data collected and assisting with drone surveys. The majority of activities will finish by 7:30pm.

There will generally be no volunteer activities scheduled between 1pm and 4pm as this is the hottest part of the day. Throughout your stay there will be many optional evening activities, like movie nights, Henna sessions, group meals, quiz nights and games! You will also get to enjoy 4 days off over a 2 week period, where you are free to explore everything this amazing island has to offer, whether that be canoeing into the 300 year old Melissani Caves, climbing the towering Mount Ainos or just relaxing at one of the many beautiful beaches.

Where will I be staying?

Volunteers will share an apartment in a large villa that enjoys fantastic 360 degree views and you can even get a glimpse of the sea. The accommodation is perfectly centered between the two main areas that will be monitored as part of your volunteering activities, Mounda (1.5km) and Skala (2km).

Skala is known for its many bakeries, tavernas and restaurants. It has a long, beautiful beach with water activity centers, beach volleyball, and is backed by restaurants and beach bars - the perfect place for shopping and free-time activities. Mounda is known for its tranquility and natural setting that has excellent snorkeling and pristine waters and is a lovely place to relax and bask in the Mediterranean sun.

Other things to consider

Swimming & Snorkelling - As a major part of the programme involves being in the sea, all volunteers must be strong swimmers and have had previous snorkelling experience. We strongly encourage volunteers to bring their own correctly fitted snorkel masks.

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