13/03/2023

Over 5,800 nests monitored by daily walking on sea turtle nesting beaches in 2022!

Over 5,800 nests monitored by daily walking on sea turtle nesting beaches in 2022!

Each year the breeding success of the loggerhead sea turtle is affected by weather, soil erosion, predation by wild animals, and human activities on the nesting beaches. In order to document and protect the nests and the hatchlings, trained ARCHELON researchers and volunteers camp near the most important nesting beaches of the country from May until the beginning of October.

In the summer of 2022, ARCHELON volunteers/researchers managed to cover about 100 kilometres of nesting beaches. "The density of nests is not the same on every beach. Τhe highest density of nests was observed, as every year, in Laganas Bay of Zakynthos (5.5 km), and in the southern Kyparissia Bay (9.5 km)", says Michalis Souroulidis, Project Manager for West Peloponnese.

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The greatest nesting activity was recorded in the Peloponnese with 4,280 nests, surpassing the average number of nests in the region of the previous decade. In the Peloponnese, ARCHELON is active on the beaches of Kotychi, Kyparissia Bay, Romanos, Koroni, Lakonikos Bay and Evrotas, while 16 kilometres of nesting beaches in south-eastern Lakonia are covered by the Tulipa Goulimi Association in collaboration with ARCHELON .

In Laganas bay of Zakynthos in 2022 more than 1,180 nests were recorded and protected with the assistance of the National Marine Park of Zakynthos (Management Unit of Zakynthos and Ainos National Parks and Protected Areas of the Ionian islands, N.E.C.C.A.). The number of nests has remained relatively stable over the last decade.

In Crete, ARCHELON volunteers recorded and protected around 380 nests on more than 30 kilometres in Rethymno, Chania and Messara Bay. The number of nests is at the levels of the last decade.

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Volunteers wake up at dawn every day and walk on the nesting beaches under the hot sun to find sea turtle tracks that are left on the sand the night before. These tracks will lead them to the nests with the eggs, which are well hidden inside the warm sand. Around the nests they find, they place special cages, which protect the eggs, both from predation by wild animals and from human activities. Nests that were made in "dangerous" places with high human activity are moved by the volunteers in more suitable places. Around the nests that are threatened by light pollution, a few days before hatching, shades are placed to prevent the disorientation of hatchlings. When the eggs start to hatch, the volunteers are there once again to monitor and protect their journey towards the sea.

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More than 240,000 sea turtle hatchlings are estimated to have reached the Mediterranean Sea from the nesting beaches of Greece thanks to the efforts of ARCHELON’s volunteers. The baby turtles are food for many marine creatures and, often enough, they are accidentally caught in fishermen's nets. Few of them will make it to adulthood, somewhere between one in 1,000 and one in 10,000.

“We are grateful to everyone who walked on the nesting beaches, recorded and protected the nests. In a few months, another demanding summer for the protection of the sea turtle breeding in Greece begins. The volunteering groups are organized right now. We are looking forward to the summer with optimism", says Michalis Souroulidis, Project Manager for West Peloponnese.

Become one of the 2023 volunteers on the nesting beaches: Learn how now!

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