Protection of nesting beaches
The protection of sea turtle nesting beaches contributes vastly to the conservation of sea turtle populations.
About 75 km of beaches with an average of 2,600 loggerhead nests are monitored through our actions on Zakynthos, Crete and the Peloponnese, each year. Our field teams direct their efforts on the beaches so that adult females can make their nests undisturbed, nests remain safe during incubation and hatchlings emerge and reach the sea unobstructed.
We ensure the protection of:
- The nesting of adult females
- The protection of the nests, which in some years exceed 5,500 in number
- The hatching of the baby turtles until they enter the sea
Each year's nesting is affected by extreme weather events, severe soil erosion, predation by wildlife and human activities on the nesting beaches. Also, on the nesting beaches, ARCHELON researchers relocate some nests that are at the risk of flooding or affected by light pollution to safer locations at the nesting beaches to hatch. The volunteers also put protective covers to prevent the nests from being stepped on by visitors and predation by wild animals.
Threats & habitat protection
Studies from all over the world has shown that beaches with sunbeds, bright street lights, noise and presence of humans during the night make it difficult for sea turtle to nest.
Also, many human activities that may occur throughout the year, have been observed to have negative impacts on the sand composition of nesting beaches, thus affecting nesting success. These include:
- sand compaction by vehicles,
- seaweed and litter removal from beaches by heavy machinery,
- dune destruction by removing sand for constructions,
- planting of trees on the beach and road construction.
Furthermore, coastal engineering projects may cause erosion and width reduction of the sandy nesting beaches. Lastly, any construction on the beachfront will accelerate coastal erosion, alter coast dynamics and bring about the degradation of nesting beaches.
The beaches with significant breeding populations have been included in the European Ecological network Natura 2000. In 1999 the National Marine Park of Zakynthos was created and in 2018 the Nature Protection Area of the Kyparissia Bay was established. In these two areas, special protection measures apply to the sea turtle habitats.
In the rest of the nesting areas, the Municipalities can grant the tourist use of the beach to local businesses, as long as the application of simple protection measures is ensured during the nesting and hatching period of the sea turtles. These actions include:
- the removal of beach furniture (sunbeds) after sunset,
- beach clean ups without the use of heavy machinery,
- the prohibition of vehicles on the beach,
- the reduction of light pollution and
- the prohibition of night parties on the nesting beach.
Tourist activity is present on all nesting beaches in Greece, therefore the cooperation of the tourism sector in the implementation of the above measures is essential. For this reason, in all ARCHELON projects an effort is made to cooperate with the local authorities and businesses. At the end of each nesting season, reports are made public on the observance of the protection measures on the beaches with the largest numbers of nests. See the Diagram that in 2022 most baby turtles came out of the nests protected by ARCHELON.
Protection measures include the removal and stacking away of sunbeds, turning lights off or reducing them to a minimum and minimal human presence on the beaches during the night. We conduct actions to raise awareness among visitors and businesses on all ARCHELON field projects.
Coastal engineering projects may cause erosion and width reduction of the sandy nesting beaches. Any construction on the beachfront will accelerate coastal erosion, alter coast dynamics and bring about the degradation of nesting beaches.
Before each nesting season, ARCHELON teams visit the sites and inform local authorities on pressures from human activities. At the end of each season we publish reports on the implementation of protection measures on the major nesting beaches.
On the nesting beaches, ARCHELON researchers transfer to safer spots some nests that are at risk of flooding or light pollution in order to hatch safely.
They also place a protective cover to avoid nest trampling by visitors and predation by wild animals.
The chart shows the percentage of hatchlings that hatched from protected nests in 2020.
Rescue and rehabilitation
Accidental entanglement of sea turtles in fishing gear often results in their injury or drowning. Unfortunately, in some cases, animals are also deliberately injured or killed. In addition, turtle collisions with speedboats are reported near the nesting beaches. The ARCHELON Rescue Network acts in cases of reports of injured or sick turtles or dead animals being washed up in cooperation with port authorities, fishermen, citizens and associations.
At the Sea Turtle Rescue Centre in Glyfada, Attica, injured or sick sea turtles are brought from all over Greece, where staff and trained volunteers provide care. After their recovery, the sea turtles return to the sea. See the rescue and rehabilitation results for 2022.
Actions to clean the beach from plastic are organized in all the ARCHELON project areas. Dune restoration projects have been carried out by ARCHELON on the nesting beaches of the Lakonikos bay and in the Kotychi area of Ilia.