Turn off the lights on the nesting beaches of the sea turtle in Rethymno and Chania.
ARCHELON appeals for reduction of light pollution so that hundreds of bay turtles are not lost.
The first loggerhead hatchlings have arrived safely at sea. But this year, if lights on the beach are not turned off , the risk of finding disoriented hatchlings on the nesting beaches of Rethymno and Chania is increased, warns ARCHELON, the Sea Turtle Protection Society of Greece.
Due to travel restrictions and protection measures of the participants, ARCHELON’s teams on the field are extremely small this year. Judging from the first numbers reported by the researchers, it is estimated that there are several nests that have not been identified which are expected to hatch "unannounced" in the coming weeks. But if the lights on the beaches do not go out after 11 pm for many turtles, it will be too late.
The nesting beaches of the loggerhead sea turtle (Caretta caretta) in northern Crete are under great anthropogenic pressure due to the increased tourist development that characterizes the coastal zone. Habitats have been severely degraded and the conservation of the species is at stake. On the beach of Rethymno, the most problematic areas for the disorientation of the chicks are the Adelianos plain, Platanias and from Sfakaki to Skaleta in Rethymnon. In Chania, intense light pollution affects the entire beach.
ARCHELON reminds that sea turtle hatchlings are "phototactic organisms", ie 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. However, artificial lights around or near the nests disorient the baby turtles and send them inlands, in the opposite direction from the sea, which is fatal in the battle for survival from the very first minutes of their lives.
This extraordinary summer saw a significant decrease in the number of participants in the ARCHELON projects than run on Crete since the 90’s. Despite the difficulties from the emergency situation due to the coronavirus, additional volunteers / researchers have reinforced the local teams of ARCHELON in Crete, in recent weeks, and they are surveying the beaches and recording nests. In Rethymno more than 120 nests have been marked and an effort is being made to protect all of them with the method of shading before they hatch. “We have examined last year's data” says Galimi Samilidou, ARCHELON’s project officer for Crete.” By comparison to what has been recorded so far this summer, it is estimated that there may be more than 60 nests that have not been identified, recorded and protected” she added. Similarly in Chania, the local team has recorded about 65 nests, but it is estimated that the total number may exceed 130.
For this reason, ARCHELON appeals to local authorities and companies to dim, cover or turn off their lights completely after 11 pm, so that hundreds of hatchlings do not lose their way and end up dead in their facilities or on the road, the next day. There are legal provisions that dictate the "avoidance of light pollution and ensuring that there will be no direct light from private and public light sources to the beach so that hatchlings are not disoriented" on the sea turtles nesting beaches all over Greece (Joint Ministerial Decision on seafront concession during 2020-2022, NEW ANNEX, published in 05-06-2020).
This first trip of a hatchling to the sea is a very vulnerable phase for its survival. Let’s give nature the opportunity to find its way, turning off the lights this year. It is an initiative that promotes our values and our ecological consciousness. And if we happen to witness such a stunning moment that the hatchlings come out of the sand, let’s act responsibly by notifying the Coat Guards of the area. They have information to act properly, 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
Rethymnon Port Authority, 2831 022276, Chania Port Authority, 2821 098888
Galini Samlidou, Head of Programs of Crete ARCHELON, tel .: 6937352379, email: email@example.com