04/03/2021

How did the turtles do on the nesting beaches in 2020?

As soon as the pandemic started, we decided that monitoring and protecting the nests on the main nesting beaches in Greece was a priority. Despite the difficulties we faced, ARCHELON managed to have a complete picture of the nesting of sea turtles on the major nesting sites in 2020.

"2020 was a year with many nests," says Regina Stefanatou, the Field Project Coordinator. "A total of about 7,600 nests were recorded in Zakynthos, Crete and the Peloponnese on 73.8 km of beach monitored". The monitoring and protection of loggerhead nests was completed for the 37th consecutive year in Zakynthos and the southern part of Kyparissia Bay, while in Crete ( Rethymno, Chania, Messara) and Laconikos Bay the projects are in their third decade.

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"There were a lot of nests this year, so the necessary quality control of all the data collected is not completed yet," said the Monitoring Supervisor Gonzalo Lourenco, who returned to the beaches in 2020 to help. The final number of nests in the monitoring and protection project in Zakynthos is 1861 nests. ARCHELON collaborated again this year with the Management Body of the National Marine Park of Zakynthos.

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The number of nests recorded in all nesting areas was higher than the corresponding average of previous years in the same areas. But this is not due to the reduced presence of people on the nesting beaches during the pandemic. The increased number of nests is probably due to the increased number of adult female turtles that managed to store the energy needed for their migration in 2020 from various parts of the Mediterranean to the beaches of Greece.

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Again this year, protection measures were applied to the nests that were evaluated as vulnerable because of predators (stray dogs, foxes, etc.) or by possible flooding in case of storm or by light pollution during the hatching stage. The human presence on the nesting beaches was greatly reduced and became more noticeable in August.

"2020 required vigilance, constant monitoring, evaluation and adjustment," Regina continues. Due to travel restrictions and the need to comply with the measures against the spread of COVID-19 in the camps, ARCHELON had to face the cancellation of the participation of 80% of volunteers from abroad in all projects.

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Eventually, the nests were recorded and protected with the assistance of 97 volunteers, 11 seasonal staff and 5 permanent staff members. Moreover, several enthusiastic and experienced local friends of ARCHELON carried out the projects in Chania and Messara bay on Crete and Laconikos bay.

One more thing: the people of ARCHELON managed to welcome and accommodate 113 people in the Research Stations and to talk to 4,000 people about the sea turtles in the nesting areas, without a single case of COVID-19 recorded in the projects..

Well done, bravo to everyone involved!

The nesting beach projects for the summer of 2021 are now open for participation! You can check out the general information and requirements here: https://www.archelon.gr/eng/volunt.php?mid=2

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