28/06/2016

Small steps towards a better future for the sea turtle on Crete

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As the nesting season reaches its peak, ARCHELON gives a reminder once more, regarding the immediate implementation of the measures necessary to protect the nesting beaches. Carrying out morning surveys on a daily basis, our volunteers have recorded many incidents, which prove that the sea turtles coming to nest on Crete encounter obstacles posed by human activity. As a result, the turtles give up the effort and make their way back to the sea. If the eggs are eventually laid in the water, they will be destroyed.

Light and noise pollution, as well as people entering the beach at night-time are problems that complicate further the reproduction procedure in the main nesting areas on the island:

Sadly, the nest numbers continue to decrease in all three areas and this is partly due to urban sprawl and tourist development, which limit the space available for nesting year after year. Moreover, erosion has an adverse impact on the coasts; hence, for the beaches attracting tourists, the standards are considerably lower in terms of quality and natural beauty.

Working side by side with the competent bodies and local authorities in all three nesting areas, ARCHELON makes efforts to improve the situation in the sea turtle habitats and points out that implementing the protection measures is both simple and critical:

These measures are simple, low-cost and easy to implement. The business community is called on to join the effort and protect the natural wealth we are so lavishly gifted with and which it makes such extensive use of. In this respect, it should actively contribute to the conservation of these uniquely beautiful beaches that are home to the rare Caretta caretta species.

ARCHELON produces statistics resulting from the regular annual recordings that have been performed since the very beginning of its programmes on Crete. According to this information, the nest number in the Bay of Rethymno has dropped by 46% since the decade 1990-1999, while in the Bay of Chania the drop reached 49% compared to the decade 1992-2002.

The question that arises is whether we understand the importance of the situation and whether we realise that the loggerhead sea turtle is not only a rare protected species, but also a competitive advantage, a living proof of quality beaches on Crete. If so, then how prepared are we all to take the action needed in order to protect the sea turtles and therefore the beaches we manage?

ARCHELON invites sea lovers of all ages to visit the programme website and address the volunteers running the information stations located centrally on the nesting beaches to learn about the sea turtles. This is their chance to support our efforts, keep sea turtles safe and help change their future. After all, it may even be the island’s most important marine species.

As one of the locals in Kokkinos Pyrgos, Messara said, “The loggerhead sea turtle Caretta caretta is a species as rare as a diamond; then why should we value diamonds more than turtles?”

Information: Athanasia Nikolopoulou, Crete Program Coordinator, Tel.: +30 6937352379

Translation: Nikoletta Kontogiannopoulou

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