18/01/2018

One year LIFE EUROTURTLES

LIFE EUROTURTLES Programme involves 9 Beneficiaries from 6 EU Countries (Italy, Malta, Slovenia, Croatia, Greece and Cyprus) in a common effort to protect East Mediterranean Sea turtles. This project is co-sponsored by the EU and the Beneficiaries (ARCHELON, as the only beneficiary from Greece, is providing the same resources to support its implementation) in order to carry out these actions on land and at sea.

LIFE EUROTURTLES Programme has been running for a year already and the first results are already apparent!

In particular, as far as the laying period of Caretta Caretta in Greece is concerned, ARCHELON had the chance to “elongate” its actions to the species laying sites, as recording and protecting the sea turtles was random so far (C1 action). The results were remarkable: On the North Golf of Kiparissia, from Neda to Alfios River (meaningly, northern than the area of action of the multiyear Golf Association Programme), 387 nests were discovered and 278 of them were protected.

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At the beach front of Evrotas (NE from the area of the multiyear Association Programme of Gythio beaches), 174 nests were discovered and 56 of them were protected. In addition, a new collaboration was established, between ARCHELON and the Katouchi-Strofylia Lagoon Managing Body and Mr Dionysios Mamasis. At the area Kounoupeli- Kotychi, 26 nests were discovered and 23 of them were protected. An “intensive” 3 week programme begun at the beach of Preveza (Kastrosikia-Mytikas), under the supervision of the Zakynthos Area Programme Coordinator, Anna Lamaj, where 3 nests were also discovered and protected. The observation and protection Programme in these areas includes another innovation: the Peloponnese Area Programme Coordinator, Mrs Polymnia Nestoridou and the Monitoring Leader, Mrs Sonia Doblado, after having training sessions with ARCHELON’s Scientific Officer, Mr Alan Rees, they performed drones flight testings for spotting nests on the laying sites beaches of the North Golf of Kiparissia and Laconia and for observing sea turtles at their reproductive natural reserves at sea.

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This new technology (once the implementation of the national legislation on drones is concluded), will be incorporated, where deemed necessary, in ARCHELON’s permanent methodology. It is to be noted that, thanks to the drones’ use, a green turtle (Chelonia mydas) was spotted in close proximity to the laying site beach of Evrotas, while from the recent scientific data this specific species was not supposed to approach depths less than 50 meters of this area.

This programme has also certain actions for addressing the threats that sea turtles face by fishing activities. In particular, it includes sharing tools with fishermen, information sessions, interviews with the use of questionnaires and the creation of “hot spot” maps that contain the areas that represent the most intensely inhabited by sea turtles that need to be avoided by the fishermen as much as possible. In particular: In collaboration with HCMR of Crete (Representative, Mr Kapantagakis Argyris) a tool-cutter, that can be easily used in order to cut the line near the hook of a turtle that has been caught in long-lines, was created. Since January 2018 and for the next months, this tool will be handed to fishermen using long-lines to fish in the areas northern of Kissamos, Kassos, Karpathos, Kythira, Napoli, West Greece and subsequently to Euboea (Action C2a). Additionally, in collaboration with the Operator of the Mesolonghi Lagoon and Fishery Associations, there was an update of the fishermen for the presence of sea turtles in the reserve (the lagoon is a very important food field) and the best way of their liberation from the beds when they get captured in them (action C2b), as well as training for 4 experienced fishermen in order to spot sea turtles.

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The Mesolonghi action was effected by a volunteer of the Association, Mrs Marina Delligiannaki, the Peloponnese Area Programme Coordinator, Mrs Polymnia Nestoridou and Paul Tsaros, Coordinator of ARCHELON Rescue Network, who suddenly passed away last September, leaving a great gap for the Association.

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One year LIFE EUROTURTLES. LIFE EUROTURTLES Programme shall ensure the Centres and Sea Turtle Rescue Networks upgrade (action C5). So far, ARCHELON had the capacity to equip the STRC in Glyfada, Attiki, with 2 new care tanks as well as to provide transport tanks for injured animals and First Aid Kits to several Seaport Authorities in our country.

It is to be noted that LIFE EUROTURTLES Programme includes various activities on public awareness. Notably, with the support of the Programme, many sea turtles that have been cared for in the Sea Turtle Rescue Centre have been liberated and public nest excavations have been performed in Peloponnese and Crete. In terms of awareness, with the participation of the illustrator and specialist in environmental interpretation, Mr Vasilis Chatzibarsanis, an up to date and modern training material will be published, that will meet in the best way possible the requirements of training for the new generations. Within the LIFE EUROTURTLES framework, the training material will be translated in English as well as the other Stakeholder countries languages.

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Every year the 9 Beneficiaries Meeting is organized in one of the 7 countries of implementation (action F1). In 2016 the 1st meeting was organized in Zagreb, Croatia, under the auspices of the Museum of Natural History of Croatia and the Blue World Institute. This year’s meeting took place in Larnaka, Cyprus, on September 26th to 28th, under the auspices of the Oceanographic Institute of Cyprus University and the Fishery and Maritime Research Department of the Ministry of Environment of the Republic of Cyprus.

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During the last meeting, the stakeholders had the honour to tour the protected area of Lara-Tokseutra, that constitutes a very important reproduction reserve for the green turtle, as well as the caretta caretta, from one of the first “turtle supporters” of the Mediterranean, Mr Andreas Dimitropoulos.

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(translation: Irene Neofytou)

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