Did you know sea-turtles nest here in Crete?
“Here, on these beaches?”
are answers we hear all too often in Crete.
After volunteering in Zakynthos, this is very strange to hear. Turtles are such an attraction, turtle-themed souvenirs pour from every shop and returning visitors to the island come back specifically because they may see a turtle.
Rapid development in the 80s, before Archelon having the man-power to extend their conservation efforts to Crete, saw a lot of nesting beaches severely affected. The addition of wave-breakers and building directly on the back of the beach, swarms of sunbeds and beaches bathed in light meant that not only have the nesting areas shrunk, but what remains is becoming more unsuitable for nesting.
I honestly believe the best way to help preserve a species is to inform as many people as possible in all the many ways they can help. This is exactly why the Public Awareness (PA) programme of Archelon is just as important as the monitoring work conducted on the beaches. This year the Public Awareness programme in Rethymno had a little makeover. In addition to the usual information tables, kiosk and slideshows at hotels, we secured a position on ‘Barbarossa’ the pirate boat which offers daily trips out to the bay of Rethymno.
Archelons info-table on the pirate boat ‘Barbarossa’!
This year we also held a ‘Public Awareness Day’, where volunteers donned hand-painted billboards, an inflatable turtle and armed with leaflets did a walk of the nesting beaches to speak with as many people as possible. It was a resounding success and a boost for morale to volunteers. Not only did we speak with interested people and answer their questions but many were very interested in coming to volunteer!
Ready to inform the public about our beloved loggerhead sea-turtle!
We also invited everyone to our public excavations. In Crete where many people who visit are unaware that turtles exist here and chances to otherwise finance the project are low, these events present a really good opportunity to capture attention, and get people involved to see with their own eyes the issues faced by Caretta caretta in Crete.
I have many highlights from this season but there is one moment that sticks clearly in my mind. A German gent came after a slideshow to put a few euros in our donation box and said:
I smiled and had to hold back the tears!