20/10/2022

Threats for sea turtles persist in Zakynthos, despite having saved the nests for 2022

For the 38th year, the volunteers/researchers of ARCHELON walked countless kilometers daily, very early in the morning, often in extreme weather conditions, in Laganas Bay, Zakynthos. Τhis year the team managed to record and protect over 1,150 sea turtle nests on approximately 5.5 km of beach, in collaboration with the National Marine Park of Zakynthos. The volunteers were trained by this year’s field leaders: Dagmar Croes, Lynn Hrkac, Sarah Bala, Theano Mari, Walker Franklin, Megan Harvey, Juliette Earhart, Gabrielle Cote, who coordinated the activities of the project.

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"We wish to thank all the researchers/volunteers for their work and their commitment to the protection of the sea turtles", says Galini Samlidou, Project manager for Zakynthos and Anvrakikos at ARCHELON. «The project is carried out in intense external conditions and is quite demanding physically, however everyone managed to participate successfully. I am particularly grateful to the volunteers who decided to extend their stay in order to protect every nest, as they saw how necessary their contribution is to the sea turtles nesting in Zakynthos ".

An increased participation in the public awareness activities was recorded compared to last year. More than 25,000 visitors were informed about the protection of the sea turtles on beaches, in selected tourist boats and hotel, and also at the ARCHELON Information Station in the city centre of Zakynthos. The Green Fund contributed to the financing of the Zakynthos project of 2022.

The National Marine Par of Zakynthos, which was declared in 1999, had a positive impact on the protection of sea turtles during the last 20 years. During the same period, however, Zakynthos became a top international tourist destination. This tourist demand led to the increased number of hotels and businesses in the Peripheral Zone of the Marine Park, and accordingly, to an increased number of visitors on the sea turtle nesting beaches. Increased human activities introduced more pressure to natural habitats and several of the challenges of implementing the protection measures within the Marine Park that ARCHELON had identified in previous years, persisted during the summer of 2022, as well.

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The presence and the patrols of the Coast Guards of Zakynthos in Laganas bay were minimal during the summer of 2022 and most of the regulation offenders were not officially identified, nor did they get any penalty or fine. In addition, there was a significant decrease of the patrolling effort of the National Marine Park at sea. The movement of boats, which were rented out without any prerequisite license and without information about the regulations of the National Park, was uncontrollable and visitors with boats were unknowingly entering strictly protected areas. Unfortunately, 7 sea turtles were found dead from a collision with a boat, while many were found injured by fishing gear.

“We would like to see better communication and awareness, not only from local businesses and authorities but also from the tourists in Zakynthos”, says Galini. "We would like to see a change in mindset of tourists, so that they will avoid practices that put sea turtles at risk. Such a behavior would affect local businesses, who would then be more willing to switch to sustainable tourism practices" she concludes.

ARCHELON’s “2022 mission” in Zakynthos has been completed and very soon we will start to prepare for the 2023 project of the protecting the sea turtle nesting beaches. If you want to join our team, keep an eye on our website…

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