Loggerhead hatchlings found their way to the sea despite the intense light pollution in Rethymnon
On the 10th of October, the ARCHELON team closed down the Rethymnon campsite for the winter and embarked on the 12-hour journey back to Athens after 5 months of intense work protecting the sea turtle nesting beaches.
Lydia Koutrouditsou, ARCHELON’s Project manager for Crete says: “The determination of the volunteers and researchers who joined the project in 2022 was impressive. They surveyed 11 km of beach daily and protected about 170 sea turtle nests, amidst thousands of tourists. They also managed to inform about 14, 000 visitors through hotel presentations, beach walks, and at the Information Station of ARCHELON in the town of Rethymnon. We are grateful for their passion to protect the sea turtles and talk to the people about the issues related to their conservation”.
70 volunteers joined the project in total, each staying for 5 weeks or more, from late May until mid-October, with some of them joining for the second time. They received training from the field leaders: Mia Kotzageorgi (Monitoring Coordinator), Kotsiras Kostas, Sam Finlayson, De Wit Lieke, Fergus Lang (Monitoring Leaders), Grace McFlane, Alicia Kolhosser (Public Awareness Leaders) Aspetaki Eleni (Public Awareness Coordinator). “A big thank you to the Coordinators and the Field leaders, who contributed their experience and hard work to the project. We could not have made it without you" adds Lydia.
The beach of Rethymnon hosts the largest number of loggerhead turtle nests on the island of Crete. ARCHELON has documented a significant decrease in the number of nests since 2020, through long-term monitoring on this site.
Beach furniture and lights on the beach during the summer nights, when sea turtles emerge from the sea to lay their eggs, disturb nesting females and hatchlings. The presence of ARCHELON on the nesting beach of Rethymnon is essential to the nesting sea turtles and the survival of the hatchlings. Team members locate the nests and place protective cages over them to avoid trampling by beach users. Just before the hatchling season, the team place creates “shading” around each nest in order to help baby turtles avoid disorientation by the intense lights and reach the sea safely.
A more positive and active response in favor of conservation was expressed by the local authorities of Rethymnon in the summer of 2022. They tried to inform local businesses and find solutions that works for both people and sea turtles, something ARCHELON also embraces since 1983, with our motto: “We can all live together!”
“We will soon start preparing for the 2023 projects, hoping to receive many enthusiastic volunteers and field leaders and maintain the high quality of the projects. We need to protect the nests and hatchlings every year, in order to help restore the sea turtle nesting population in Rethymnon” concludes Lydia.
If you would like to become a volunteer and join the ARCHELON team at Rethymnon, for the 2023 nesting season, make sure to keep an eye out on our website.