02/06/2020

Sea turtles return to nest on the beaches of Crete

This year’s first nest of the loggerhead turtle on Crete was recorded on the beaches of Messara Bay. ARCHELON’s team located the nest on May 23 at Kommos beach and placed a protective cage to avoid disturbance. Morning surveys begin tomorrow on the beach of Rethymnon and in the coming weeks in Chania. The teams will gradually include more researchers / volunteers, always taking precautions against the spreading of coronavirus COVID19 in their areas of residence and activity.

A new life cycle of sea turtles in the Mediterranean begins with the nests that will be made in their nesting habitats, on the beaches in Rethymnon, Chania and Messara bay. Sporadic nests will probably be found, as in previous years, in other areas and especially in Sitia, a local team will support ARCHELON in the protection of the nests.

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The journey of the new generation of loggerheads Caretta will begin with their hatching on a sandy beach from the end of July. There is little data on the first years of their lives, also known as "lost years" and according to some estimates less than 1 in 1000 hatchlings will reach reproductive age. Young turtles have been recorded in areas that are feeding grounds, and when they reach adulthood, female turtles will start returning to the same beach where they were born to lay, their eggs every one or two summers.

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Greece hosts the largest number of Caretta nests in the entire Mediterranean. One of the most important areas for their long term conservation is Crete. The beaches of Rethymno, Chania and the Gulf of Messara are included in sites of the European Ecological Network NATURA2000 in Greece, with codes GR4330004 (Rethymno), GR4340003 (Chania) and GR4310004 (Messara Bay) exactly because they host the nesting of sea turtles.

To protect this unique visitor, all of us, visitors, businessmen and permanent residents of the area, must help in the following ways:

• By placing beach umbrellas in fixed points and on axes perpendicular to the wave line

• By removing / suspending of beach furniture after sunset, so that there is enough space available for nesting during the night

• By washing beach furniture in an area behind the beach, so that the nests do not get wet and the eggs are not broken

• By leaving traces of turtles and hatchlings intact on the beach until the daily count by the ARCHELON research team.

• By avoiding to place facilities such as permanent shading and showers on the beach

• By avoiding human presence, noise and artificial lights on the beach during the evening hours

• By not using heavy beach cleaning vehicles during the period May-October

We wish a good summer for everybody and we hope to meet you in our public awareness activities on the beach or in the kiosks!

Information: Galini Samlidou, Officer for Crete ARCHELON, tel .: 6937352379, email: archelon.crete@gmail.com

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