The Evrotas Delta, located at the very north of the Lakonikos Gulf, Greece, is surrounded by very long sandy beaches. They are unspoilt beaches, with only a few small fishermen shelters. The fisheries activity is not very strong, and the main activity we see during our surveys is some shellfishing from locals. Tourism exists, but it is not applying a big pressure on the beach, as it is doing in some other ARCHELON projects, but there are some beach bars frequented by locals during the summer high season, and a couple of camper vans from some lucky foreign tourists that have managed to find this lost place in the Peloponnese.
These beaches had been known for many years to be nesting beaches for loggerhead sea turtles, but due to lack of manpower, they have not been monitored for the last 12 years. Now, thanks to the LIFE Euroturtles project, we are able to start monitoring them again!
We started monitoring regularly the nesting beach, from Trinisa to Kokkinia, on the 18th of June. In our first survey, we found already 26 tracks and 10 nests, so it was a promising first morning! The area is an 15 km long beach, with very soft sand, beautiful sand dunes and an amazing forest behind. Would be paradise if it wasn´t for the big amount of marine litter that you can find on the beach, carried there by the sea currents. It really does make you think seeing all that litter in the middle of a pristine beach. Some of the litter pieces are so big that turtles that encounter them return back to the sea without nesting, because they don´t find a way to go around them. But they do have natural threats as well. In this area, the main threat is predation. We have found nests predated by dogs, foxes, martens and even golden jackals. The diversity of predators gives you a hint about the biodiversity to be found at the Evrotas Delta.
During our morning surveys, we looked for nests, for adult and hatchling tracks and also taking a look for predated nests. But our work was not only to monitor nests, it also included the record of the main threats for the turtles in the area, and the record of all the strandings found.
As now the season is over, according to our preliminary data, we have protected more than 50 nests and we have recorded 5 strandings, all of them dead turtles. The very first one was almost a skeleton, so it is possible that it stranded during the winter. But the other 4 were recently dead, so it is certain that they died this summer. None of the strandings have any external sign of human inflicted injuries, plastics or net tangling. The most interesting part about the strandings is that 2 of them are juvenile green turtles. The Lakonikos Gulf was a known feeding ground for them, but to know that they are still here it is an invaluable information. We are talking then about a very unique area in the Mediterranean, as it has loggerhead nesting adults living together with juvenile green turtles, sharing the same grounds. Where these juveniles come from, and where they go after feeding there is a mystery that we are working to solve.
We are looking forward to discover the many wonders awaiting us in this area!
Evrotas Monitoring Leader
ARCHELON Peloponnese Project Coordinator