Συλλόγου για την Προστασία της Θαλάσσιας Χελώνας, ΑΡΧΕΛΩΝ

 

Rescue Network

LIFE NETWORK

Sea turtles exist on earth since 180,000,000 years and are among the older live creatures on our planet. Their history is identical to evolution of life on earth. Their protection and survival are as necessary as life itself.

Sea turtles spend the greatest part of their lives in the sea. They come ashore only to lay their eggs. In Greece the main reproduction areas of Caretta caretta are found in Zakynthos, Peloponnesus (Laconikos Bay, Kyparissia Bay and Koroni) and in Crete (Chania, Rethymno and Messara Bay). The incubation period for the eggs is about 2 months. The female hatchlings, which will reach the sea, after they reach adulthood, will return to the natal beach to lay their eggs.

In the Greek seas there are 2 more species of sea turtles, the Green Turtles (chelonia mydas) and the Leatherback (Dermochelys coriacea) which do not nest in Greece. All the sea turtles in Greece are threatened with extinction.

For thousands of years fishermen, fish and sea turtles lived in a balanced environment. During the last decades this situation has dramatically changed. The causes of this situation are mainly the following:

  • Deterioration and destruction of coasts (usually by tourist activities, coast road constructions etc)
  • Degradation of sea ecosystems and particularly the most productive ones found in the coastal zone (usually by industrial wastes and agricultural discharges through rivers to the sea).
  • The intensification of fishing.
  • The use of non-selective and destructive fishing gear.

There are already areas on the planet where thousands of fishermen are unemployed due to exhaustion of all fish supplies in their area. This situation must stop at once if we want to save the future for fishermen, fish, sea turtles and sea life.

Today fishermen must use highly modern and strong fishing gear and cover much bigger distance for a small fishing yield. Fishermen and turtles "compete" for a few fish, in a constantly diminished sea.

Each year about 300 dead or inured turtles are reported to ARCHELON through the National Rescue Network. Most of them have been injured by fishermen who found them in their nets or longlines. But extinction of sea turtles will mean greater destruction of sea life and fishing.

NATIONAL RESCUE NETWORK FOR SEA TURTLES

On the basis of more recent data, coastal fishing seems to be the main cause of death of turtles in the sea. Thinking that there are tens of thousands of professional coastal fishermen in Greece, we need immediately their help to save this unique species.

ARCHELON, having the target to coordinate organized efforts for saving the sea turtles, established the National Rescue Network for sea turtles.

The Rescue Network consists of local coast guards, fishermen, members and volunteers of ARCHELON, local or national environmental organizations and citizens. When a dead or injured sea turtle is found, the members of the Network make sure that the local coast guard knows about it. In case of dead turtle, the coast guard makes sure that it will be buried by the Municipality or the Community of the area and all the required data is safely kept. In case of injured sea turtle, the coast guard makes sure that it will be transported to the Rescue Centre.

The bigger the number of the members of the National Rescue Network, the most efficient will it work and save more sea turtles.

Participation of fishermen is crucial for this effort to succeed. Fishermen can locate injured sea turtles in the sea before they are washed ashore and thus valuable time is saved for the treatment of the animal.

SEA TURTLE RESCUE CENTRE AND FIRST AID STATIONS

In 1994, ARCHELON founded the Sea Turtle Rescue Centre in Glyfada Attikis with the collaboration of Glyfada's Municipality and with the license from the Ministry of Agriculture. Each year about 50 injured sea turtles are transported to the Centre and if they are cured then they are released back to their natural environment. The Rescue Centre also operates public awareness programmes.

The Rescue Centre coordinates the network and collects stranding data which is analyzed with the aid of Geographic Information Systems (GIS).

At the same time ARCHELON operates two First Aid Stations in Crete (Pagalohori of Rethymno) and in West Greece (Amvrakikos) which can accommodate turtles for short period of time. These Stations are equipped with exhibition areas for the visitors and especially for children.

How you can help:

- Become member of the National Rescue Network, and you will get the special member card and equivalent training.

- Report injured or dead turtles to the Rescue Network telephone number (+30) 210 8944444 and to the local coast guard.

- "Adopt" a sea turtle under treatment (tel: (+30) 210 8982600).

- Talk to your friends about the role and the operation of the National Rescue Network and tell them to visit ARCHELON's website (www.archelon.gr).