Continuous disturbances 17 years after the foundation of the National Marine Park
This year’s nesting season in Zakynthos has ended, with the first results showing that 2017 has been the year with the lowest number of nests. ARCHELON has been systematically recording the nests in Laganas bay since 1984, and this year only 650 nests have been recorded by our volunteers, making it the smallest nest count of all time.
It is well known that Zakynthos has been hosting the highest number of reproductive Caretta caretta females in the Mediterranean with an average of 1200 nests yearly. Although it is also well known that the sea turtles’ nesting numbers have a huge variance every year, this year’s low number creates big concerns. This number is becoming more concerning because on one hand the long term tendency is showing a decrease of the population and on the other hand because there continues to be problems that seriously disturb the sea turtles, especially in the marine area of Laganas bay.
For example, the big number of boats that practice turtle spotting activities in the sea. It is not rare for someone to witness 7-8 boats in a small distance surrounding a female turtle that is preparing to nest inside the warm waters of Laganas bay. Loud tourists on boats asking to photograph the sea turtle up close, even to… pet her, or to… feed her anything they have with them, even fruit! The large number of boats, that is increasing every year, that the local port authority cannot control, due to lack of legislation, is now the biggest source of disturbance of the sea turtles in the marine area that disrupts the nesting process.
Sadly, the lack of a Management plan until today – 17 years after the foundation of the National Marine Park of Zakynthos- does not help in solving the issue at hand. The composition and approval of a Management plan was supposed to happen within a year of the foundation of the NMPZ, but unfortunately, it is still pending. This issue is becoming more concerning when combined with the incomplete protection from the National Marine Park of Zakynthos, which only intensifies the disturbances on the nesting beaches with the growing number of illegal beach furniture and establishments in the core of the natural reserve and lastly, with the consistent lack of government funding.
Despite all this, ARCHELON with the support of hundreds of volunteers that beyond observing, recording and protecting the nests, collaborates with the National Marine Park in order to inform the tourists, but that cannot substitute the institutional part of the state.
A complete and systemic intervention is required both from sea and land in order to make Laganas bay a safe haven for the Loggerheads.
Information: Anna Lamaj, Project Officer Zakynthos. Τel.: +306940454976, e mail: firstname.lastname@example.org