12/11/2021

The protection of the loggerhead sea turtle nesting in Thines Kyparissias in 2021

Thines Kyparissias (the Kyparissia sand dunes) is the Natura 2000 site with the highest number of loggerhead nests in Greece. Registered as GR2550005, it includes the "core" nesting area in south Kyparissia Bay, which extends to 9.5 km of beach, from the mouth of the river Arkadikos in the south, to the mouth of the river Neda in the north.

"In these 9.5 km of beach, more than 3,200 nests of sea turtles were recorded last summer," says biologist Galini Samlidou, the ARCHELON Officer responsible for this project. "Furthermore, 1,100 nests were recorded in the northern part of the Kyparissia Bay which extends to 34.5 km of beach, that are included in the northern part of the area GR2550005 and in the area GR2330005" Dunes and Coastal Forest of Zacharo ", she adds. This is the area with highest number of nests in the Mediterranean.

The researchers / volunteers of the ARCHELON project recorded all these nests but also took care of their protection. "98% of the nests recorded in 2021 were protected from predation while the necessary protection measure was taken against, inundation, trampling and light pollution. This is a serious effort, which requires many hours and hard work and we warmly thank all the volunteers and field leaders who contributed this year ", Galini points out. The field leaders for 2021 were Kira Marie Schirrmacher and Lodewijk Desertine (Monitoring Coordinators), Zoe Connelly, Julian Gervolino, Megan Harvey, and Juliana Pinto (Monitoring Leaders), Georgina Skia (Public Awareness Leader) and Parissa Amirian, (Camp and Volunteer Coordinator).

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The “core” nesting area and the need for its protection has been the subject of the Judgement of the European Court of Justice of 10 November 2016 (Case C-504/14) and also of the Recommendation No. 174 (2014) of the Bern Convention, to which Greece has to comply. In addition, the entire Natura 2000 site GR2550005, as well as the neighboring sites GR2330005 and GR 2330008 comprise the Nature Protection Area of ​​Kyparissia Bay, which was designated by Presidential Decree in 2018.

"Violations of the protection measures included in the Presidential Decree occurred in the summer of 2021", says Panagiota Theodorou, Coordinator of Legal & Institutional Affairs of ARCHELON. "The presence of vehicles on the shore was recorded often, while some companies did not remove the beach furniture from the beach at night systematically. Photo-pollution from public and private lights also continued. "We found that this combination of threats resulted in the disturbance of turtles during nesting as well as and the disorientation of the hatchlings upon leaving their nest", she adds.

Unfortunately, the ban on free camping and the attempt to block access to the illegal roads to the beach did not work. Parts of the dunes were occupied by campers once more and obstacles on illegal roads were bypassed daily by vehicles, causing further deterioration. Also, the operation of beach canteens resulted in creating illegal parking lots on the sand, in the surrounding area.

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The presence of ARCHELON in the area is regular since 1980, while the systematic recording of nests began in 1984. Since 1992 the vast majority of nests in the "core" nesting area are protected every year. As a result of this massive protection, a gradual increase in the number of nests, and hence of adult females, has been recorded since 2006, throughout the area of ​​Kyparissiakos Bay.

The information actions of ARCHELON for the visitors of the area were limited during the 2021 nesting season, as the Municipality of Trifylia did not issue a license for the operation of the Information Station at the entrance of the "core" nesting area in Kalo Nero. Nevertheless, the Station operated in a private land of GAIAOSE and informed over 1300 visitors in the period August-September.

The report concludes by pointing out that the above issues should be resolved with the Management Plan / Action Plan of the Nature Protection Area of ​​Kyparissia Bay, which is being prepared as part of an ongoing National Program of the Ministry of Environment and Energy.

Read the full report on Kyparissia Bay (in English) HERE.

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