Συλλόγου για την Προστασία της Θαλάσσιας Χελώνας, ΑΡΧΕΛΩΝ

 

Project Areas

Protection of Nesting activity in Peloponnesus

Peloponnesus is situated at the southernmost part of the Greek mainland. The largest town in the area is Patra (170,000 inhabitants), one of the most important ports in Greece. ARCHELON works in the three most important Caretta caretta nesting areas, the Bay of Kyparissia, Koroni and the Bay of Lakonikos.

Having been inhabited since the Neolithic period (6000-2600 BC), Peloponnesus is rich in history and culture. It has been the focal point of many ancient civilisations like Mycenaean and the Spartans. Its rich cultural activity continued during the Byzantium Age. Peloponnesus played a key role during the Greek Independence againts from the Ottoman Empire. All civilisations have left their mark in the area, which is rich in archaeological sites and architecture.

Peloponnesus is also known for its natural heritage. Due to the large number of species of fauna and flora (some of which are endemic) included in the appendices of the 92/43 Habitats Directive of the European Union, a large proportion of its surface is included in the NATURA 2000 network of protected areas. The main source of income in Peloponnesus has been agriculture and fishing, although there is increasing tourist activity.

Kyparissia and Lakonikos Bay have been included in the European "Natura 2000" network under the codes "Thines Kyparissias" (GR2550005) and "Evrotas Delta" (GR2540003) respectively. ARCHELON runs conservation projects in these areas since 1983. In the framework of two LIFE Nature projects, co-funded by the European Union in 1999 and 2002, Management Plans for the coastal zones were completed, promoting a model of sustainable development that will be beneficial to the local people. ARCHELON has been working for their implementation in co-operation with the local authorities and the local community.

Peloponnesus hosts 900 nests per year (24.3% at national level) in the Bays of Kyparissia and Lakonikos and in Koroni. The nesting season commences at the end of May and lasts until August. During this period, with the participation of 130 volunteers ARCHELON implements the following activities:

  • Morning and Night Survey recording daily nesting activity
  • Nest Protection against human activities and predation by mammals (foxes, etc)
  • Sand dune restoration against the degradation of this sensitive ecosystem
  • Public awareness through the operation of seasonal Information Stations, slide shows in tourist resorts and beach patrols in order to inform beach users.

During the whole year permanent ecotourist structures are operated: the Environmental Scientific Centre of Evrotas with the adjacent "Nature Trail" in the sand dune zone of Evrotas mouth and the Scientific Environmental Centre of Agiannakis with the "Forest Trail" in the coastal forest of Neda mouth. Guided tours are operated for individual visitors and organised groups. Great emphasis is given to children through special environmental education programmes.

Kyparissia Bay

Kyparissia Bay is located in West Peloponnesus and extends as far as Katakolo cape to the north and Kounelos cape to the south. It is an open bay with a north-western direction and therefore exposed to strong north-westerly winds that mainly occur in the Ionian Sea, during the summer. Kyparissia Bay consists of a sandy beach backed by one of the most extensive dune systems in Greece, reaching 10 meters of height. A large river called Alfios and two smaller rivers called Neda and Arkadikos run into the sea. The southern part of Kyparissia Bay, which lies between the port of Kyparissia and the mouth of Neda, hosts the second largest nesting population of the loggerhead sea turtle Caretta caretta in the Mediterranean with an average of 600 nests. In the context of a Life Nature project, co-funded by the European Commission, a nest management plan for the area has been drafted.

Lakonikos Bay

Every year, around 200 nests are protected on the 23.5 km of beach monitored by ARCHELON in Lakonikos Bay, in south Peloponnesus. Nesting occurs on Evrotas beach, from Kokkinia to Trinisa. Sea turtles can also be found nesting on the beaches of Vathi, Mavrovouni, Selinitsa and Valtaki and sporadic nesting has been noted on other beaches of the Bay.

Lakonikos Bay is important as a loggerhead nesting area, but also provides refuge for many other species within the Evrotas Delta region, one of the last remaining important wetlands in southern Greece. The extensive sand dune system backing Evrotas beach is largest in southern Peloponnesus and is inhabited by rare and endangered plant species, such as the Sea Daffodil (Pancratium maritimum). The marine ecosystem in Lakonikos is characterised by some of the most extensive Posidonia sea grass beds in Greece. The Posidonia ecosystem provides a home to many species of fish, as well as shelter to the eggs of many organisms and sea turtle hatchlings. Furthermore, the local Posidonia sea grass beds have been identified as development habitat of juvenile green turtles (Chelonia mydas).

In 1989, the first pilot project with fishermen in Greece was launched in the Bay of Lakonikos. This work was the starting point for the activities of ARCHELON towards the implementation of collaborative programs with fishermen in other areas.

Koroni

The importance of the nesting beach in the area of Koroni, in south west Peloponnesus, has been noted since the end of 1980's. It is a relatively small beach (2.7 km in length) which hosts 40-80 nests every summer, reaching a density that is relatively high for the Mediterranean standards. The systematic monitoring of nesting activity was initiated in 1995.
Two areas in the broader region of Koroni are to be included in the European Natura 2000 Network as being very important not only for the presence of sea turtles, but also for the existence of extended Posidonia beds (Posidonia oceanica) and the appearance of cetaceans in local waters.