31/08/2011

Tragic events at the Koroni Caretta caretta nesting beach

On 17 August 2011, passersby told volunteers at the ARCHELON information booth that a beach party was being held at the nesting beach. When the volunteers reached Memi beach, the party organized by the Zanza club was already underway. Huge speakers played music at a very high volume, while a lazer projected light far out into the sea as well as onto the beach itself.

Three Caretta caretta nests were located right next to the site of the party. From one of these, the baby turtles were expected to hatch within the next several days, while babies had already started hatching from the other two. Volunteers discovered that eight had hatched and made for the sea, and two had become lost inside the party site. The fact that eight had made it to the sea isnʼt at all reassuring because the lights and sound vibrations confused the turtles, resulting in their coming out of the sea and heading towards the light source, where they tragically died before their lives had even started.

ARCHELON notified the police, and a volunteer decided to personally go to the police station. The answer we received was that there was only one police officer on duty and he could not leave his post. More tragic, however, was his comment that he had received orders from his superior not to interfere with the beach party because they had gotten a permit for it from the Assistant Mayor! According to our research in the Estate Office, there is no provision for granting such a permit.

We also tried to persuade the club owner not to project light into the sea and to lower the volume of the music, unfortunately without any result. So, ARCHELON volunteers stayed next to the nests until 6.30 a.m. when the party finished, picking up the baby turtles and freeing them in a dark, quiet area far away from the party. They managed to save 14 baby turtles this way.

Vibrations from the powerful sound system and noise from the crowd negatively affected the embryonic sea turtles, causing them to hatch prematurely and, in combination with the bright lights at the scene which disoriented them further, resulted in many of them tragically and needlessly losing their lives. Situations like this are particularly appalling because of their effect on a species already threatened with extinction.

Translation by Joanne Stournara

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