New IUCN Red List Assessment of the Loggerhead Sea Turtle Caretta caretta in the Mediterranean: long term protection pays off
To avoid any misinterpretations that may rise from this shift, the new listing has to be further explained. According to the new IUCN criteria the listing of species is now based on their “imminent extinction risk”. So, the species assigned to the “LC-Least Concern” category are not necessarily safer nor does it mean that their protection must stop but that “they are not in danger of extinction in the near future on the condition that their current status remains the same”. Specifically, the IUCN definition states: “The category Least Concern is applied to taxa that do not qualify (and are not close to qualifying) as threatened or Near Threatened. It is important to emphasize that "least concern" simply means that, in terms of extinction risk, these species are of lesser concern than species in other threat categories. It does not imply that these species are of no conservation concern.”
It must be noted that the IUCN listing based on the new criteria has comparative value among the species. This means that a long lived species such as the loggerhead turtle, with many nesting beaches in the Mediterranean, some of which presenting significant increases in nest numbers due to long term protection measures, as it happens in Kyparissia Bay, cannot be considered endangered as opposed to other species with restricted geographic distribution, very small populations or populations in sharp decline. We must also take into account that the new IUCN listing does not describe the threats that a species has to deal with, nor the full status of its population, nor the need of protection measures. It rather focuses on the species prospects of survival in the near future examining mainly its geographical range and population trends.
Thus, the new listing of Caretta caretta in the Mediterranean actually reflects the success of long term conservation measures which must continue on by international organizations, international treaties, the European Union, governments, local communities and environmental organizations. The IUCN’s Marine Turtle Specialist Group in their statement (see attached file) specifies that this listing is a result of the relatively good condition of the Loggerhead Turtle in the Mediterranean thanks to all the important conservation actions that take place all these years. They further mention that the Mediterranean population must be considered as “conservation dependent” and “any decrease of the current conservation effort would very likely be detrimental”. Finally, they clarify that the loggerhead populations in the Mediterranean should continue to be monitored and further studied as updated and reliable data would be needed for the next assessment. The full statement of the IUCN’s Marine Turtle Specialist Group follows (for the original statement click here).
A new IUCN Red List Assessment of the loggerhead sea turtle (Caretta caretta) is now available online.
The assessment was completed by the Marine Turtle Specialist Group of the IUCN Species Survival Commission, a global network of sea turtle experts. This is the second sea turtle species (after the leatherback turtle, Dermochelys coriacea) that has been assessed at both the global and subpopulation levels using IUCN Red List Criteria. Red List assessments at the subpopulation level are much more meaningful for conservation planning than those done solely at the global scale, especially for wide-ranging species like sea turtles.
Globally, the loggerhead turtle is now listed as Vulnerable. The 10 loggerhead subpopulations have been assigned to categories ranging from “Critically Endangered” to “Least Concern,” representing in most cases a change from the “Endangered” category to which the species as a whole was assigned in the previous assessment from 1996. Given the increasing use of the IUCN Red List to inform conservation priorities in a variety of contexts, we want to clarify some aspects of the Red List in order to avoid misinterpretations about the status of those loggerhead subpopulations that are now listed as “Near Threatened” or “Least Concern.”
The IUCN Red List Categories and Criteria represent one approach for assessing and comparing the conservation status of very different species, with a specific aim to identify species and subpopulations facing imminent or high risk of extinction globally based on past, current, and expected future conditions and anthropogenic factors.
Loggerhead subpopulations that have been newly listed in the categories “Near Threatened” or “Least Concern” indicate that those subpopulations are not at imminent/high risk of extinction. However, this evaluation is based on their present situation, which takes into account the results of past conservation efforts, many of which have been in place for decades. In this respect, the current status of these subpopulations represents a measure of the success of past conservation efforts. For this reason, these subpopulations need to be considered to be conservation-dependent. Any decrease of the current conservation effort would very likely be detrimental. Indeed, it is only because of such prolonged conservation efforts that some loggerhead subpopulations are now being categorized as “Near Threatened” and “Least Concern” rather than higher categories of threat like “Vulnerable,” “Endangered,” and “Critically Endangered.” Moreover, within a subpopulation categorized as “Least Concern” or “Near Threatened” there may still be sea turtle stocks that are facing a high risk of extinction at a national or local level.
Red List assessments are updated regularly to reflect the most current and best available data, and as such the Red List status of loggerheads may change with time. All the loggerhead subpopulations must be monitored and studied further in order to assure that conservation strategies and interventions are adjusted to respond to possible future changes. Red List assessments are policy relevant rather than policy prescriptive, and to derive adequate policies at regional or national levels may require many different types of assessments.
Based on the present state of knowledge, all loggerhead subpopulations are in need of intensive conservation measures to improve or to maintain their current conservation status.
Joanne, whatʼs new at the Rescue Centre (December 2015)?
The scientific work of ARCHELON
- OUR NEWS15/09/2023
Lilo, the tiny green turtle, made it back to the sea!
In November 2021 a small green turtle arrived at the ARCHELON Rescue Centre with a very serious head injury. After almost two years of intensive care, one Wednesday in September 2023 he was finally discharged and returned to the sea!
- OUR NEWS17/08/2023
World record of 37 years of reproductive life for a loggerhead sea turtle in Zakynthos, Greece – increased number of nests this summer, says ARCHELON
ARCHELON – the Sea Turtle Protection Society of Greece announces an important outcome of the systematic work of this year's sea turtle nest monitoring team in Zakynthos. Based on their long-term observations, ARCHELON managed to certify a new World Record of reproductive activity for loggerhead turtles.
- OUR NEWS07/08/2023
ATTENTION! Sea turtles are not pets: Do not touch them or feed them!
The Municipality of Eastern Mani and the Port Authorities requested the assistance of ARCHELON to inform beach users in the area of Limeni, near Mani, where 35 new incidents of sea turtle attacks on sea bathers have been recorded during this summer season. These are added to the already long list of 200 such records of previous years found in the nearby Health Center in Areopolis.
- OUR NEWS01/08/2023
Interview with a volunteer: Lea Heinen, Rescue Centre
Interview with a volunteer: Lea Heinen, Rescue Centre Lea shares her experience volunteering at the ARCHELON Sea Turtle Rescue Centre: “I think when a turtle starts to eat after a month of trying, when you can see the improvement or healing of a turtle's injury and when a turtle is released back into the sea, into its natural habitat, into its home - then you know that you are indeed saving turtles”.
- OUR NEWS21/07/2023
Kids Beach Competition 2023: Make your own little sea turtle with natural materials and send us a photo!
Help us spread the message about the protection of sea turtles by making your own baby turtles with natural materials you will find on the beach. Sand, stones, pebbles, shells, seaweed, sticks and whatever else you have available, can be transformed with a little imagination! Take a photo of your work and send it to the ARCHELON Beach Competition.
- OUR NEWS18/07/2023
Paving the way for next steps in conservation of marine turtles in the Mediterranean region
Last week the partner organizations of the project “Conservation of Marine Turtles in the Mediterranean Region” met for the 9th Steering Committee Meeting. The meeting was organized by SPA/RAC in the area of Kyparissia Bay, Greece on the 4th and 5th of July, 2023 in collaboration with ARCHELON.
- OUR NEWS04/07/2023
An offer to EXPERIENCED volunteers: You can now join the beach projects for 2-3 weeks!
The time is just right to join the projects again, even if you have only 2 or 3 weeks of available time. This offer is valid for August, September, October 2023. Apply through our new website and find out more about the dates and places you can join. More…
- OUR NEWS22/06/2023
The nesting season has begun! Learn what you can do if you find sea turtle tracks or nests on the beach
The nesting season for the loggerhead sea turtles has begun. The nests that are made in the areas monitored by ARCHELON and other collaborating groups are already being recorded. However, if you find tracks or nests on other beaches, you can also participate in the effort to record and protect these sporadic nests. Find out why it's important…
- OUR NEWS16/06/2023
A breath away from registering a new world record on the years of known active reproduction of a loggerhead sea turtle is ARCHELON, the Sea Turtle Protection Society of Greece
This is the year when ARCHELON, a nonprofit environmental NGO, is celebrating 40 years of continuous and targeted action to save sea turtles in Greece and the Mediterranean. At the same time, the project teams of ARCHELON are ready to register the longest period of active reproduction known for the Loggerhead sea turtle (Caretta caretta), in case it happens this year!
- OUR NEWS15/06/2023
A Saturday unlike any other - Turtle Festival 2023
ARCHELON invites kids and adults to celebrate the environment and the sea in an exciting way at the "Sea Turtle Festival" on Saturday, May 27 at the Sea Turtle Rescue Centre in the 3rd Marina of Glyfada.
- OUR NEWS07/06/2023
Announcement for all past volunteers of ARCHELON: Shall we meet this September?
Highlight: Hi everyone! This year marks 40 years of ARCHELON’s action for protecting sea turtles in Greece. During these four decades, thousands of volunteers from many countries joined our sea turtle projects and the Rescue Centre to help save the turtles. Let’s meet again this coming September and celebrate the animals we saved during all these years.
- OUR NEWS07/04/2023
Waiting list for schools that want to visit the ARCHELON Rescue Centre
Thousands of Greek students visit the Centre and get informed about the value of protecting the environment through contact with a particularly beloved animal, the sea turtle. "All the available visiting hours until the end of the 2022-2023 school year have been booked, but there is a waiting list that is activated in case of cancellations", says Anna Kontoleon, ARCHELON’s Education Officer. More hours for online tours may be added in May if volunteers become available.
- OUR NEWS28/03/2023
People are supporting wildlife conservation
The donations and "adoptions" made at the Rescue Centre in Glyfada, Attica and at ARCHELON’s field projects in Zakynthos, the Peloponnese and Crete in 2022, reached the amount of €350,000. We did a lot last year thanks to all these people, who also made it possible for us to continue this year.
- OUR NEWS24/03/2023
We learned with deep sadness the passing away of Gail Schofield, a pronounced sea turtle researcher and former ARCHELON volunteer. Read more…
- OUR NEWS20/03/2023
More than half of the rehabilitated sea turtles got released back to the sea in 2022!
The Sea Turtle Rescue Centre of ARCHELON in Glyfada rescues, takes care of and rehabilitates injured sea turtles from all parts of Greece since 1994. More than half of the sea turtles that were under care at the Rescue Centre in 2022 got released back to the sea after reaching full recovery this year! Read more…