Dr Claire Petros completed her undergraduate degree in Biological Sciences at Oxford University before studying veterinary medicine at the University of Bristol. During her time at Bristol University, she immersed herself in wildlife and exotic medicine. She qualified as a veterinarian in 2016.
As part of her studies, Claire travelled to North Carolina in the US to experience working for the Turtle Rescue Team, part of North Carolina State Veterinary University in sea turtle medicine. She then went on to volunteer for a turtle conservation NGO, Ocean Spirits, in Grenada. It was after witnessing stunning leatherback turtles nesting there that she started dreaming of working with sea turtles as a veterinarian.
The dream became reality when Dr Claire joined the Olive Ridley Project (ORP) in 2016. As ORP’s first Resident Veterinarian, she helped open the Marine Turtle Rescue Centre in Baa Atoll, Maldives’ first sea turtle veterinary clinic.
Dr Claire has been working as ORP’s Lead Veterinary Surgeon from 2017 to 2023, overseeing the veterinary team and facilities as well as all rescue and rehabilitation aspects of ORP’s work. Dr Claire has also been active in ORP’s educational outreach initiatives and frequently represented the charity at international sea turtle conservation conferences and visited schools, universities and other organisations to talk about the charity’s work and about sea turtle conservation and sea turtle veterinary medicine.
Since 2018, Dr Claire has also worked as a sea turtle consultant for the Swiss NGO Ocean Care and is currently undertaking a PhD at Oxford University. At Oxford, she is conducting research on Aquatic Wildmeat in the Indian Ocean, focusing on ‘Using the behavioural sciences to tackle unsustainable trade of sea turtle products: in the Maldives’.
As of January 2023, Dr Claire has taken the up the position as Veterinary Programme Officer for ORP to allow her more time to focus on her PhD.
Working for both ORP and OceanCare, Dr Claire’s was inspired to found the Sea Turtle Rescue Alliance (STRA), a global network for sea turtle rescue and rehabilitation centres. STRA’s aim is to share clinical knowledge and data to enhance medical practices at sea turtle veterinary facilities worldwide, supporting the global conservation effort for these endangered species. With Ocean Care’s support and funding, this exciting venture has now been made a reality. ORP was the first affiliated rescue centre and the alliance has since added more than 50 members.
Dr Claire has presented at international conferences such as CMS Cop12, Global Ghost Gear Initiative and the International Sea Turtle Symposium on issues such as marine debris and ghost entanglements of turtles. Dr Claire is also a keen diver (SCUBA and free diving), paddle-boarder and swimmer; she can often be found swimming with turtles whenever she has the opportunity to!