17/08/2023

World record of 37 years of reproductive life for a loggerhead sea turtle in Zakynthos, Greece – increased number of nests this summer, says ARCHELON

ARCHELON – the Sea Turtle Protection Society of Greece announces an important outcome of the systematic work of this year's sea turtle nest monitoring team in Zakynthos. Based on their long-term observations, ARCHELON managed to certify a new World Record of reproductive activity for loggerhead turtles.

The lucky turtle, first spotted in Zakynthos in 1986 and given the name Gaia, was once again recorded by ARCHELON's trained researchers/volunteers nesting on Sekania beach in Zakynthos this year, thus confirming a full 37 years of reproductive activity. The previous record was set by a loggerhead turtle laying her eggs for 36 years in Florida, USA.

This important announcement by ARCHELON puts Greece at the center of global scientific data on sea turtles and certifies the long-term systematic effort of the Society, which has been active on the loggerhead nesting beaches in Greece for the last 40 years.

This lead, however, hides behind it another record, of which ARCHELON is really proud: The endless stream of thousands of volunteers, who tirelessly over the years traveled from all parts of the world to find themselves on a Greek beach to record nests and protect the turtles. It is these 15,000 Greek and foreign volunteers of ARCHELON who, for 40 years, with persistence, diligence and reliability, have been recording valuable information about sea turtles, that would otherwise remain in the dark.

This summer, ARCHELON records a high number of nests in all nesting areas in Greece. Specifically, more than 1,800 nests have been recorded in Zakynthos - less than the maximum number of nests recorded in 1995 -, more than 4,300 nests in the southern Kyparissia Bay - the largest number of nests ever recorded in the area -, around 355 nests in Lakonikos Bay, over 220 nests in Rethymno, around 300 in Chania and over 230 in Messara, Crete - the most nests recorded in the last two areas since 1995-.

2. Nεοσσοί Κυπαρισσία.jpeg

"We are certainly going through a year with high numbers of nests on all the nesting beaches throughout Greece. In fact, in some of them, such as the south Kyparissia Bay, Chania and Messara Bay in Crete, the preliminary data show all-time records" says Aliki Panagopoulou PhD, the Research Coordinator at ARCHELON. "However, we must say that the number of nests recorded each year depends on many factors, such as the quality and quantity of food in the turtle feeding grounds of the Mediterranean. There are large fluctuations in the number of nests recorded from year to year, and it takes many years for population trends to become apparent. That is why the long-term systematic recording of the reproductive activity is important, as ARCHELON has been doing for 40 years in Greece." she continues. "We are certain that the joint efforts to protect the breeding habitats both in Greece and in other Mediterranean countries, play an important role in the hopeful positive course of turtle populations in the region."

The data collected in the ARCHELON projects are transmitted every year to N.E.C.C.A., the Agency for the Natural Environment and Climate Change in Greece, contributing to the implementation of national actions for the protection of sea turtles. ARCHELON's activities in the nesting beaches are not limited to the recording and protection of nests and hatchlings, especially now, when baby turtles come out of their nests and must reach the sea safely.

"It is important that beach visitors and local businesses know how to behave on the nesting beaches and observe the protection measures, so as not to prevent nature from performing its functions", says Thanos Michailidis, responsible for the ARCHELON project in Zakynthos. "Our public awareness efforts with presentations in hotels and our collaboration with people in the tourism sector who respect the environment, will continue to spread the message of proper behavior on the loggerhead nesting beaches to tens of thousands of visitors from all over the world," he continues.

Never giving up, ARCHELON’s teams continue the effort to raise awareness in all nesting beaches, in cooperation with local authorities. They are currently informing tourists from the Information Stations in the city of Zakynthos, in Kalo Nero and Agiannakis, Kyparissia, Mavrovouni in Gytheio, in Koroni, the cities of Rethymno, Chania and in Matala. ** For more information:** Christiana Kamprogianni, Information Officer of ARCHELON

Zakynthos: Thanos Michailidis, tel 6940454976, email zakynth@archelon.gr

West Peloponnese: Michalis Souroulidis, tel 6932285817, email westpelop@archelon.gr

South Peloponnese: Alexandros Karaplis, tel 6951009785, email southpelop@archelon.gr

Crete: George Vrampas, tel 6937352379, email crete@archelon.gr

Learn more about the world record of the loggerhead turtle Gaia here

Learn more about the code of conduct at the sea turtle nesting beaches here

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