10/06/2009

Caretta-caretta nesting season started in Rethymno (Crete)!

Itʼs well known that Crete hosts three very significant caretta nesting beaches in Rethymno, Chania and Messaraʼs Bay. Although these areas are critical for the Mediterranean sea and a major part of them has been included in the NATURA European network of protected areas as should, they still remain with no legal protection status facing a number of threatening to their future issues.

Creteʼs caretta nesting beaches have been downgraded enough because of the uncontrolled tourist development during the 80s and 90s. The sand dunes face destruction as they are at a large scale being rapidly eroded, and finally the beach is almost disappearing.

The large number of beach umbrellas and reclining chairs that are left on the beach at night impede the slow travel of the female turtles as they make their way up to the dune line to nest. The bright artificial lights are fatal for hatchlings as they become confused and disoriented.

At the same time, a greater threat comes from the sea, since each year many sea turtles are reported dead or injured, mainly due to inadvertent capture in fishing lines and nets.

After all, it is not that strange the number of nests in Rethymno and Chania is declining, stressing the imperative need to take all appropriate measures for their protection immediately.

The importance of the turtles laying beaches in Crete has been established beyond any doubt. ARCHELON has been working systematically in Rethymno since 1989 collecting nesting data, protecting the nests threatened and informing the public.

The field work is conducted with the permission of the competent Ministry of Agriculture and the support of the local authorities and municipalities, by trained volunteers who come particularly for this purpose from around the globe.

ARCHELON jointly with the Municipality of Arkadi reconstructed the old school building in Pagkalohori and turned it to a Nature Information Centre, hosting appropriate environmental learning programs for schools and organized groups.

Please note the sea turtles reproducing in Rethymno, Chania and in the Bay of Messara each form a particular and independent population not related to the ones of Zakynthos and Kyparissia. We were able to document this thanks to our long term tagging program.

Remarkably, marine turtles from each region, even if they make long journeys for feeding reasons up to the North Adriatic Sea and Tunisia, the adult females return back to their own hatch site to lay their own clutches of eggs.

It is important to address the threats to sea turtles and the natural habitats upon which they depend. ARCHELON has been doing exactly that for more than 25 years now. With your help we can do more.

Your support will help us ensure sea turtles are swimming free in the sea for future generations!

RECENT NEWS

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