02/10/2009

STORIES OF TURTLE NIGHT MADNESS

My first night survey of this season was on Gerakas beach, in Zakynthos. It is beach that is surrounded by low cliffs and there is fifty meter wooden ramp that leads down to the beach. Tom Backof and I had tracked a turtle to the back of the beach. She hadnʼt attempted to nest yet so we decided to leave her alone. We do this because the turtle is very sensitive in that phase. After 15 minutes, Tom went crawling off to find her. I saw him returning immediately “Kostas, you ʼve got to see this”, he told me. The turtle was sliding down the wooden ramp! We both assumed that the turtle must have climbed at least 25 meters up! Of course, the turtle realized that this was not an appropriate place for her to nest and she returned to the sea. A turtle returning to the sea without nesting is something that happens quite often and she will try again and again until she finds the right spot.

Another night, again at Gerakas beach, me and another volunteer Faye Karavasili spotted a turtle track that went very far at the end of the beach. “I am going to check the turtle to see what she is doing”, I said to Faye and I started crawling. I crawled to the back of the beach, where the vegetation started but I still couldnʼt spot the turtle. Nevertheless I could hear some strange noises coming from behind a bush. Going a little bit closer where the sand slopes were steeper I saw something that surprised me. The turtle was on top of the bush. She then moved on, fell from the bush, flipped over once and slid down the slope! “I saw these tracks in the morning but I couldnʼt explain them”, Jack Suss, morning survey leader the following morning said to me. All the other volunteers were astonished when I told them the story, as it had never happened to them before. And these incidents happened during only two nights, some would wonder how many strange things must have happened during these thousands of years that the sea turtles have been coming to Zakynthos to nest.

When a sea turtle lays her last eggs, the next thing she does is to cover the egg chamber and then camouflage her tracks. More specifically she flicks dry sand behind her, with her strong front flippers. One night, I was behind a turtle that had finished nesting and she was covering her eggs. I was checking her carapace for injuries and then the turtle started camouflaging by throwing sand directly into my eye, totally blinding me! Discussing with the other volunteers I found out that the same thing had happened to them as well. Dobro Debska, one volunteer, was telling me that she was so excited while she was watching the turtle that she had her mouth open and as a result the sand from the camouflage went into her mouth! The following nights I decided to be more careful when the turtle is in that phase. It wouldnʼt be too much to say that watching this ancient creatureʼs effort to reproduce is the closest I have ever been to nature! At the same time you learn to respect the animal and more generally the nature and that provides you with extra motivation to volunteer for its survival

Kostas Papafitsoros ARCHELON volunteer the three last years in Zakynthos, maybe the best in his life so far

RECENT NEWS

  1. OUR NEWS
    16/06/2024

    30 Years of Hope: The Sea Turtle Rescue Centre of ARCHELON Celebrates World Sea Turtle Day

    Every year on June 16th, we celebrate World Sea Turtle Day, a day dedicated to raising awareness about these magnificent creatures and the threats they face. This year is particularly important for ARCHELON, as the Sea Turtle Rescue Centre marks 30 years of operation.

    Read more
  2. OUR NEWS
    13/06/2024

    Poster contest for children and young adults: Welcome the 2024 turtle hatchlings on the beaches!

    Watercolors, markers, collage, computer, phone? Everything is useful. Use your creativity and imagination to make an A3 or A4 size poster announcing that the 2024 sea turtle eggs are about to hatch.

    Read more
  3. OUR NEWS
    17/05/2024

    Amvrakikos Project 2024: Special Call for a Field Leader

    ARCHELON is looking for a highly motivated person to lead its project in Amvrakikos Gulf, one of the few foraging sites for loggerhead turtles in Greece linking several populations nesting across the Mediterranean region.

    Read more
  4. OUR NEWS
    16/05/2024

    Τhe nesting of loggerhead sea turtles started earlier this year and the effects of the climate crisis on the oceans are worrying

    For the first time, in the 40 years of ARCHELON records, the first sea turtle nest was found in Laganas Gulf, Zakythos on May 10th. Scientific predictions of the nesting season moving earlier in the spring due to climate change are being confirmed.

    Read more
  5. OUR NEWS
    14/05/2024

    Save Turtles, See Greece on a Budget

    Dreaming of pristine Greek beaches and a chance to make a real difference? Here's why June and September are the perfect months to volunteer with sea turtle conservation efforts in Greece!

    Read more
  6. OUR NEWS
    02/05/2024

    Sea Turtle Festival for Kids 2024

    Save the date! On Saturday 18 May at 11:00, the ARCHELON Rescue Centre opens its doors to welcome young and old sea turtle friends who want to celebrate, explore, learn, play and travel magically in the Mediterranean Sea. We are waiting for you to strengthen our message for a better and sustainable planet!

    Read more
  7. OUR NEWS
    02/05/2024

    A successful year for the International Sea Turtle Symposium

    The International Sea Turtle Symposium concluded triumphantly this March in Pattaya, Thailand, with ARCHELON actively participating.

    Read more
  8. OUR NEWS
    29/04/2024

    A Morning Beach Patrol with ARCHELON

    The camera lens of Stefanos and Maria of SteMajourneys caught a rare sight in the early morning: a Loggerhead sea turtle nesting! The volunteers in Chania took action right away to protect the nest.

    Read more
  9. OUR NEWS
    26/04/2024

    Protecting sea turtles in Rethymno- Our Ocean, an Ocean of Potential

    The 9th International Conference "Our Ocean", which was held in Athens from April 15 to 17, was successfully completed. ARCHELON had the honor to actively take part in the conference and hosted a side event.

    Read more
  10. OUR NEWS
    12/04/2024

    Coordination for the protection of sea turtles in Rethymno: Local authorities and tourism businesses join forces

    The meeting, which took place on April 5, 2024, in the building of the Regional Unit of Rethymno, touched upon key issues, such as the observance of conservation measures for the protection of the Loggerhead sea turtle. Given the tourist activity on the nesting beaches, the active participation of the tourism sector in the implementation of the measures is necessary.

    Read more
  11. OUR NEWS
    10/04/2024

    "Tourists and turtles?" The environmental awareness campaign of ARCHELON spreads to the nesting beaches of the Loggerhead sea turtle

    After the pandemic, ARCHELON - the Sea Turtle Protection Society of Greece - is once again mobilizing on the path to sustainable tourism. The aim of the new campaign is to provide information on the appropriate code of conduct for visitors to all nesting beaches, in cooperation with the tourism sector.

    Read more
  12. OUR NEWS
    04/04/2024

    LIFE MareNatura - The largest marine biodiversity program in Greece

    Read more
  13. OUR NEWS
    03/04/2024

    Citizens inform us of sea turtle strandings

    ARCHELON started the effort to record the incidents of dead turtles washing up on the Greek shores in 1992. In recent years there has been an increase in these records which may be due to more of our fellow citizens reporting such incidents. Learn more…

    Read more
  14. OUR NEWS
    19/03/2024

    Contributing to international developments on sea turtle research and conservation

    In the past, members of ARCHELON were actively involved in the elaboration of the Global Strategy for the Conservation of Marine Turtles, published in 1995, and nowadays three of our collaborators participate in the writing of the revised guidebook “Research and Management Techniques for the Conservation of Sea Turtles”.

    Read more
  15. OUR NEWS
    08/03/2024

    The Over & Above Awards for 2023

    These are the ARCHELON Over & Above Awards for 2023.

    Read more
1 out of 0
Subscribe to our newsletter!
Learn about our latest actions and find out about our programs and how you can help sea turtles!