The 2021 Zakynthos report
Laganas bay, Zakynthos hosts one of the largest reproductive populations of the loggerhead sea turtle (Caretta caretta) in the Mediterranean. The National Marine Park of Zakynthos, established in 1999, includes sea turtle habitats within an Absolute Protection site with no human visitation (Sekania beach and surroundings), and five Nature Protection sites with restrictions/regulations of human use (Gerakas beach, Dafni beach, Kalamaki- East Laganas beach, Marathonissi islet beach and the marine waters of Laganas Bay).
Were the sea turtles safe during their nesting on Zakynthos in 2021? Marine biologist Nikoletta Sidiropoulou, the Project Officer of ARCHELON, replies: “The continued presence of the Management Agency of the Park and ARCHELON on site has ensured sea turtle monitoring and nest protection for one more year. More than 1,300 loggerhead nests were recorded and protected by ARCHELON in Laganas Bay in collaboration with the Marine Park in 2021”. Guards/patrols and cordoning-off of the nesting zone were implemented by the Park, while WWF Greece operated the fire prevention observatory on the land behind Sekania beach.
One of the interesting issues discussed in the Zakynthos report of 2021 is that, after the establishment of the Park, the nesting contribution of the individual beaches has changed. Analysis of nesting data of previous years shows in particular that the average contribution of Sekania beach decreased with an equivalent increase of nesting contribution on the beaches of East Laganas, Kalamaki and Gerakas. This long-term change is probably attributed to better protection measures (wardening, cordoning-off of the nesting zone, management of beach equipment) implemented gradually by the Management Agency of the Marine Park as well as by the local businesses on these beaches. However, a significant decrease in numbers of nests has been observed on the beaches of Marathonissi and Dafni during the last years, which is related to disturbances of sea turtles by boats in the marine area of the bay and uncontrolled human pressure respectively.
The report acknowledges that Zakynthos island has become a top international tourism destination during recent years. However, there is a noted disrespect and disregard to environmental legislation in Laganas Bay, especially to nature conservation regulations at sea and on the nesting beaches by local authorities and local operators.
“There is an extremely high number of licensed vessels operating in the Bay in recent years and this issue has not been regulated as yet. For one more season, many boats were surrounding the sea turtles to enjoy the sight of them and, more often than not, the Turtle Spotting Guidelines were not observed” says Panagiota Theodorou, Coordinator for Legal and Statutory issues in ARCHELON. “Fisheries and speed boats are responsible for many accidents with sea turtles. Out of 50 sea turtle stranding incidents (45 dead and 5 injured/sick), recorded so far in Zakynthos this year, 21 were located within the marine protected area of Laganas Bay” she adds.
Unfortunately, the interest of local businesses, landowners, and local authorities to collaborate for better law enforcement in the Marine Park seems to be quite low. As a result, there were several violations regarding the exceeding numbers of beach furniture and their non-removal at night, incidents of human presence at nighttime on the beach, of human trampling over nests, of driving vehicles and horse riding on the beach.
Additionally, long term threats due to illegal activities, which were identified in previous years, continued to exist. These include the old sanitary landfill, the illegal road between the beaches of Dafni and Gerakas, buildings at Gerakas and buildings/ businesses at Dafni. Local authorities have not implemented existing administrative decisions for the demolition of these illegal constructions.
The report concludes that a collaborative approach in improving the legal regulation of management practices and a more effective surveillance of the beaches and the marine area are urgently needed to ensure the conservation of loggerheads in this very important habitat in the Mediterranean.
ARCHELON wishes to thank the volunteers and field leaders of the 2021 season for carrying out the monitoring and public awareness activities, as well as everybody else who contributed to the effective conservation of sea turtles in Zakynthos.
The 2021 Zakynthos report can be downloaded here.
The protection of the loggerhead sea turtle nesting in Thines Kyparissias in 2021
A mini retreat- visit to an organic vineyard and farm
- OUR NEWS02/02/2024
Sea turtles in the Greek wetlands of international importance
World Wetlands Day is celebrated every year on February 2. These vulnerable areas of the planet are a refuge for migratory birds and other wildlife species, including sea turtles. ARCHELON is present in wetlands that play an important role for sea turtles, such as the Amvrakikos Gulf.
- OUR NEWS24/01/2024
Why are ARCHELON’s projects international?
ARCHELON’s sea turtle conservation projects are organized with the valuable contribution of volunteers who come to Greece every year not just from Europe but from more distant places such as South Korea, Australia, and Colombia. Speaking English while carrying out fieldwork or public awareness activities as well as when interacting with each other in the campsites is essential to the projects.
- OUR NEWS17/01/2024
ARCHELON has been running a special hospital for sea turtles with tanks and impressive old train wagons for 30 years in Glyfada
Turtles with IV and bandages, rehabilitation and recovery tanks, special environmental enrichment equipment, recovery greenhouses, and… renovated train wagons! The hospital for injured and sick turtles that ARCHELON has set up in the 3rd marina of Glyfada, next to the sea, is certainly something out of the ordinary.
- OUR NEWS05/01/2024
What happened in the world of ARCHELON in 2023?
A world record for reproductive life for a sea turtle and 40 years of ARCHELON’s actions for protecting sea turtles are some of the moments we celebrated together this year. So, what happened in the world of ARCHELON in 2023? Here are some highlights of the past year.
- OUR NEWS21/12/2023
Assuming responsibility for the environment brings more meaning into our lives
“ARCHELON is an opportunity, not only for the animals and the ecosystems, but also for us who participate in it and for the society in which we operate”. Thomas Arapis, President and founding member of ARCHELON, talks about the efforts of the organization and about what he aspires for the future.
- OUR NEWS20/12/2023
Forty years later: the world of ARCHELON has expanded
Thomas Arapis, President and founding member of the Association gives the current coordinates of ARCHELON. "We encounter many turtles in our daily activities, and even more people, many more people actually, who help us. Amongst them are the people who work for us, they stand out for they represent the Association out there, through thick and thin".
- OUR NEWS20/12/2023
19 Environmental NGOs ask the Greek Government not to consent to a change in the wolf protection status in Europe
- OUR NEWS15/12/2023
Messages of love from the world turtle community!
Celebrating ARCHELON's 40th Anniversary we have received warm messages from the turtle community worldwide
- OUR NEWS14/12/2023
When the past becomes a lighthouse for the future
Thomas Arapis, the President of ARCHELON and one of its founding members talks about the quality and values, and the people who marked the setting up and subsequent action of ARCHELON. “Dimitris Margaritoulis taught us, not only the methodology for monitoring and protecting them, but also what it means to organize tasks, take responsibility, work as a team, evaluate our course and cooperate with each other”, he says.
- OUR NEWS12/12/2023
Notes of a volunteer (Part 2): Ηead trauma happens more often and is more serious than you think
Jessica Van Damme who volunteered at the ARCHELON Sea Turtle Rescue Centre for 6 weeks in 2023, talks about what she learned while taking care of sea turtles with human caused injuries.
- OUR NEWS04/12/2023
Notes of a volunteer (Part 1): Jessica Van Damme was at the Rescue Centre
“During my 6-week stay, there were more than 30 injured sea turtles being treated at the Rescue Centre. Seven of them were successfully released, but, during the same period there were five new arrivals – all turtles with human-caused injuries. We, humans, are their biggest threat!”, writes Jessica.
- OUR NEWS30/11/2023
Summer 2024: Come back to sea turtle conservation as a leader!
Joining or returning to ARCHELON’s sea turtle projects as a Field Leader will give you the opportunity to lead specific activities as well as train and help others in the projects. These positions provide a higher level of experience in nature conservation/ environment protection, as well as improved communication and leadership skills. Hurry and apply now! Only a limited number of experienced and skilled volunteers are selected to serve as leaders in each project.
- OUR NEWS23/11/2023
The establishment of the “Amvrakikos Alliance”
The Alliance's vision in collaboration with the local community is to highlight the unique ecological value and the natural and cultural heritage of Amvrakikos, for the most effective management, restoration, and protection of its ecosystems and biodiversity.
- OUR NEWS16/11/2023
Kids Beach Competition 2023: Turtles made of natural materials that stole our hearts!
The little friends of ARCHELON who participated in the Kids Beach Competition 2023 formed turtles from pebbles, sand, water, rocks, sticks, leaves and shells, spreading the message of protecting sea turtles on the various beaches of Greece. Angeliki's (7 years old) little turtle on top of the big rock stole 694 hearts and became the winner!
- OUR NEWS15/11/2023
The Field Leaders of 2023 and their role
Matthew from the UK, Noha from France, David from the Netherlands, Aris from Greece started one summer as volunteers knowing little about turtles and their protection. Their experience made them return to the conservation projects as Field Leaders to take on more responsibilities, as trainers and mentors for new volunteers.