21/08/2019

Green turtle nesting on Cretan beach is confirmed!

Thanks to a notice received from a local enterprise in Kalamaki, Messara Bay, on July 22, 2019, the team of ARCHELON confirmed that the Green turtle (Chelonia mydas) also nests on Crete. The event was recorded with all necessary precautions (red LED flashlight, no flash photos) and the nest was protected according to the appropriate methodology. It is noted that this is the second time the Green turtle has been spotted in Crete. The first nesting record on Crete was made in 2007 at Rethymno beach by ARCHELON and was confirmed by the hatchlings.

But what do we know about this species and its conservation needs?

The Green turtle is the second species of sea turtle nesting on the Mediterranean coast after our well-known loggerhead.

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The species differs morphologically from loggerheads and is recognized externally mainly by four pairs of side plates, none of which borders the nuchal plate, one pair of prefrontal scales between the eyes, instead of two in loggerheads and four posterior plates instead of three in loggerheads.

It also has a more "round" carapace, instead of the "heart shaped" carapace of loggerheads and proportionately (relative to its size) smaller head. The hatchlings have a light colored belly, they are gray on the top with lighter gray around the shell and edges of the flippers.

Small green turtles are omnivorous, that is, they feed on various sea plants and animals, but when they grow up they feed almost exclusively on sea plants.

The Green turtle is considered an endangered species worldwide and is protected by international conventions, European and Greek law. Its breeding areas in the Mediterranean are confined to its easternmost tip, mainly in Turkey, Cyprus and Syria. Measures for the protection of breeding sites and specific monitoring programs exist mainly in Turkey, Cyprus and Israel.

Their dietary fields are identified in the eastern Mediterranean and North Africa up to the west coast of Libya where they migrate after breeding. The hitherto known threats faced by green turtles are accidental catches in fishing nets and tourism development in breeding habitats. In the Greek seas there are almost exclusively juvenile green turtles. In the Laconic Gulf there is a relatively high concentration of them and therefore the bay is considered a developmental habitat of the Green Turtle in Greece.

We thank ARCHELON volunteers of the Messara Bay program and our friend in kalamaki for their extremely helpful observation!

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