ARCHELON has already recorded more than 3,500 loggerhead nests in the Nature Protection Area of Kyparissia bay this summer, but at the phase of hatching, the fate of many of them relies on locals and visitors
ARCHELON appeals for having the lights near the beach turned off after 11 pm during August and September.
The first nests of this summer in Kyparissia bay have already hatched and hatchlings reached the sea safely. However, in the locations of Kalo Nero, Vounaki, Vlassada, Agiannakis, Elea, Giannitsochori, Tholo, Neochori and Ag. Nikolaou there is an increased risk of finding thousands of hatchlings disoriented by private and municipal lights, warns ARCHELON the Sea Turtle Protection Society of Greece.
ARCHELON has so far recorded more than 3,500 loggerhead nests in Kyparissia bay and the project there makes an effort to protect those of them that are affected by light pollution with the method of "shading". However, due to the pandemic, ARCHELON had to reduce the number of participating field researchers and volunteers in the project. It also seems that the increasing trend in the number of nests observed in the last decades continues this summer. With those two factors combined, many of the baby turtles that will hatch from these nests will be exposed to the intense artificial lighting of the beach. If lights on the beaches do not go out after 11pm it will be too late for many hatchlings.
Why turn off the lights at night? Giannis Chalkias, ARCHELON’s Project officer for west Peloponnese explains: "The coastal zone of Kyparissiakos bay has been impacted by development in several locations with holiday settlements, hotels, taverns, bars. Lights on the beaches have been multiplied during the last two decades. On the other hand, hatchlings are "phototactic organisms", i.e. they are attracted to light. They usually hatch at night or in the early morning hours and move towards the water that mirrors the moon and the stars. Artificial lights around or near the nests disorient the turtles and send them in the opposite direction from the sea, which is fatal in the battle for survival from the very first minutes of their lives."
For this reason, ARCHELON appeals to local authorities and businesses to dim, cover or completely turn off their lights towards the beach after 11 pm at Kalo Nero, Vounaki, Vlassada, Agiannakis, Elea, Giannitsochori, Tholo, Neochori and Ag. Nikolaos, so that thousands of baby turtles do not lose their way and end up dead in their facilities or on the street, the next day.
The legal provisions for all sea turtle nesting beaches in Greece include "avoidance of light pollution and ensuring that there will be no leakage of light from private and public light sources to the beach so that hatchlings are not disoriented" (Joint Ministerial Decision for coastal concession during 2020-2022, NEW ANNEX, published on 5-6-2020).
It is in the hands of residents, businesses, and visitors to give this year the opportunity for nature to find its way, by turning off the lights. A hatchlings’ first journey to life, the sea, to survival is moving but also vulnerable. Turning off the lights is an initiative that promotes our values and our ecological consciousness. And if we happen to witness the amazing moment when the hatchlings come out of the sand, let us act responsibly by notifying the Port Authority of the area that has the information to act appropriately, in collaboration with ARCHELON. Helping a wild animal is not as obvious in its handling as we often think.
Contact telephones in case of nest hatching:
Kyparissia Port Station, 27610 22128
Katakolo Port Authority, 26210 41206
Giannis Chalkias, ARCHELON’s project officer for west Peloponnese, tel.: 6932285817, email: email@example.com