29/06/2009

THE SEA TURTLES IN AMVRAKIKOS BAY

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The turtles in the Bay After an invitation by ETANAM (Development Agency for Amvrakikos), ARCHELON took part in a LIFE E.U. project that, between other things, studied the presence of the turtles in the Bay. In the period 1999-2003, ARCHELON worked in the Bay using some of the latest technology. With the help of fishermen, turtles, most of which were juveniles, were caught in nets and were fitted with radio transmitters as well as acoustic transmitters (which can transmit underwater) so that their movements could be monitored within the Bay. Satellite transmitters, which have a large operational range, were also fitted in order to identify where turtles go when they leave the bay. This research found that most turtles remain within the Bay during the whole winter. There, they feed with the plentyful of crabs, shells, and other invertebrates present in the Bay.

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Considering that the Bay has no nesting beaches, where do the loggerheads in the bay come from?

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Problems with fishermen and oyster cultivators Fish are not the main food of the loggerhead sea turtle. It is anyway too difficult, if not impossible, for her to catch them. Of course, when she does find them caught in fishing net, she does try to eat them and this is when she comes into conflict with the fisherman. It's not only that she eats the caught fish. Even worse, she can destroy the nets. This happens because the turtle gets caught up in the net and, in her attempt to reach the surface and breathe, she tears it or entangles it further. Unfortunately there is no solution to this problem, apart from compensation to the fishermen. This is something that the state must seriously consider and reach a decision about.

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Because entanglement of turtles in fishing nets also causes many losses on behalf of the turtles, ARCHELON, in cooperation with the local municipality and the Centre for Environmental Education, created a basic First Aid Station at Kopraina of the Prefecture of Arta. Injured turtles can be kept there temporarily before they are transferred to Glyfada of Attiki, where the Sea Turtle Rescue Centre of ARCHELON is located.

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Photo Captions: No. 1: Turtles are captured manually by ARCHELON researchers in Amvrakikos to be measured and tagged.

No. 2: After tagging and measurements, turtles are immediately released. The data collected will help reach conclusions about the number of turtles in the bay and their rate of growth.

No. 3: Turtle release in Amvrakikos Bay after a satellite transmitter was placed to study its migration.

No. 4: The route of a turtle from Amvrakikos Bay to the eastern coasts of the Mediterranean as recorded by its satellite transmitter. It is very possible that this turtle originally came from the eastern Mediterranean, where she returned to nest after reaching maturity in the rich feeding grounds of Amvrakikos Bay.

No. 5: Volunteers of ARCHELON are setting up the First Aid Station for sea turtles at Kopraina, in Amvrakikos Bay.

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