The Volunteers


Helping Wildlife

19th of June

The phone rings, it’s from the dive center. They say they witnessed the floating carcass of a sea turtle just off shore. At once we grab our first aid kit and head to the spot. The sea turtle is floating in the open sea getting carried away by a surface current, a white spot in the endless, calm blue sea.
One of the volunteers wears his fins and mask and swims towards the white spot while I wait on the beach pointing the direction.
When the swimmer returns, the beautiful shiny carapace of a sea turtle appears. It is a Loggerhead turtle, female, she must have died in the last 24 hours. She seemed like a perfectly healthy turtle, but beside some abrasions, we couldn’t determine her cause of death. No matter how many deceased turtles we record, it always saddens us to find them, knowing that this is an endangered species and that the specific female individual most probably came to nest in the area…

Setting up the release of a Griffon Vulture

2nd of April

A group of elementary students stand in a row a few meters away from four cages in which four Griffon Vultures await their release back in the wild.
A volunteer comes forward and the clicking sounds of cameras and the caws of crows echo over the steep cliff and talks to the eager students about the resident population of Vultures on the island and their characteristics. One of the Vultures in the cages shakes its massive wings as it becomes impatient feeling the northern wind blowing.
Another volunteer approaches the cages and counting down opens up one of the cages. Within a second, the white long head of the Griffon Vulture emerges and hops fast over the rocky ground, while it opens up its 3 meters wide wings and with a strong leap over the cliff soars like a paraglide in the sky.
All students follow the majestic wild bird with their eyes exclaiming in amazement, some even point at the distant creature that has already elevated hundreds of meters…

An Eleonora’s Falcon receives examination
Rescuing a poisoned Griffon Vulture
The release of a juvenile Loggerhead turtle

10th of August

It is the middle of the day and the temperature outside has risen remarkably. We are two volunteers inside the cool first aid care station and we are both silent as we immerse ourselves at the task at hand: an Eleonora’s Falcon that was found in a village unable to fly lying by the side of the street. I hold the beautiful, dark brown falcon with the big pitch-black eyes from its feet and tail, while my colleague examines each wing for possible fractures and injuries. We spot some blood on its left wing at the humerus and my colleague presses his lips as he feels the bones. The bird was shot. Unfortunately, throughout the year the majority of avian patients that arrive at our station are victims of illegal hunting, and Eleonora’s Falcons are a rare species of which approximately 80% of its global population is found in Greece. We provide the poor bird of prey first aid care and liquids and inform the “Aegean Wildlife Hospital – Alkyoni” about the falcon. Knowing that wild birds are prone to stress, we bandage the wing and place it in a quiet place until the ferry arrives, which will take the Eleonora’s Falcon to the Wildlife Hospital of Paros island for further treatment. Hopefully, it will fly again.

“Like us, animals feel love, joy, fear and pain, but they cannot grasp the spoken word. It is our obligation to speak on their behalf ensuring their well-being and lives are respected and protected.”

– Sylvia Dolson
Papavasiliou street
Naxos town, 84300