26/01/2022

The challenge of the nesting sea turtles on Crete

The projects of monitoring and protection of nesting loggerheads in Rethymno, Chania and Messara bay were carried out from the beginning of May to the beginning of October 2021.

Researchers / volunteers of the ARCHELON projects recorded a total of 533 nests on the 31 km of beach that were daily surveyed. The nests were protected from trampling, flooding and photo-pollution. The volunteers informed visitors about the nesting of sea turtles in the area. Public awareness activities reached about 9,600 visitors in Rethymno, 2,700 visitors in Chania and 1,700 in Messara bay. In the areas of Chania and Messara bay, dedicated local volunteers of ARCHELON participated in addition to the volunteers who came from Greece and abroad.

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"We thank all the volunteers and field leaders who participated in the projects last summer. They walked many kilometers and gave their best to protect the turtles", says Lydia Koutrouditsou, biologist, Project manager of ARCHELON for Crete.

The Field leaders in 2021were: Eva Horcajo Berna and Mia Kotzageorgi (Monitoring Coordinators), Colette Ballantyne and Tania Gil Anton (Monitoring Leaders ), Mahe Le Blet and Megan McFarland (Public Awareness Leaders), Zonne Van Der Pol (Coordinator), Fabiola Cecchini and Katherine Landy (Public Awareness, Camping and Volunteers), and Paul Grammel (Project Assistant).

"Α big applause to the local authorities and all the beach businesses in Rethymno, Chania and Messara bay, that took care to maintain the nesting habitat for sea turtles by removing beach furniture during the night- we hope that next year every business will do this", adds Lydia.

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What about the lights on the beach? “There was the good example of the Municipality of Platanias, Chania, who turned off the public lights during the hatching period, so that the hatchlings would not be disoriented. Again, we hope that more will follow their example ” says Panagiota Theodorou, Coordinator of Legal and Institutional Issues of ARCHELON. “However new challenges were added such as the unauthorized opening of a coastal road from Kalamaki to Afrathias in the gulf of Messara, which destroyed sand dunes", Panagiota continues.

The main nesting beaches of the loggerhead (Caretta caretta) in Crete have been included in 4 Natura 2000 sites as follows: Rethymno beach is included in GR4330004, Chania beach is included in GR4340003 (and a little in GR4340006) and Messara bay beach is included in GR4310004). It is important to note the existing provisions for project environmental impact assessments within Natura 2000 sites must be observed in these areas.

More information on the projects for volunteers:

Rethymno https://www.archelon.gr/eng/volunt_reth.php?mid=2&mid2=53&mid3=62

Chania https://www.archelon.gr/eng/volunt_chan.php?mid=2&mid2=53&mid3=63

Messara bay https://www.archelon.gr/eng/volunt_mess.php?mid=2&mid2=53&mid3=64

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