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
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
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)
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
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
- "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).