Sea turtles constitute one of the most ancient species of fauna to still exist on Earth. The fossil archives lead to the conclusion that turtles were already around at the time of dinosaurs. Even though dinosaurs have gone extinct, turtles continue to survive to this day. However, turtles nowadays face numerous dangers from various human activities, with fishing being considered one of the most basic threats to the survival of the species.
Every year in the Southern region of the Bay of Kyparissia and, since this year, with valuable help from the LIFE Euroturtles project, also in the Northern region of the Bay of Kyparissia, the researchers from ARCHELON have been recording all turtle strandings with on-site observation. Specifically for the summer period of 2017, from early May to early October, four incidents of dead turtles strandings have been recorded, in which the causes of death are connected to specific fishing activities, from fishing nets entangled on fins to longline hooks stabbed on the turtles’ bodies.
It is now important to point out that, being reptiles, sea turtles have lungs. Many times, once a turtle is somehow trapped in fishing tools, it cannot emerge to the water surface to breathe and so it dies. Their breathing frequency is connected to their activity level. A resting or sleeping turtle, for example, can stay underwater for 4 to 7 hours. However, a turtle entangled in fishing tools and consequently in a stressful situation quickly uses up the oxygen stored in its body and can drown within a few minutes.
Within the frame of the European LIFE Euroturtles project, we aim at reducing the sea turtle death rate caused by fishing tools, through actions like: informing fishermen, distributing special tools for setting trapped turtles free, cleaning abandoned fishing tools from the bottom of the sea and upgrading the rescue network and the Sea Turtle Rescue Centre in Glyfada, Attica.
The Hellenic Coast Guard as well as sensitized citizens have been a great help in ARCHELON’s efforts to record the strandings, as well as in rescuing injured turtles. Whoever spots an injured or dead turtle is kindly requested to inform local Coast Guard Authorities as well as ARCHELON so that the incident can be recorded or the turtle imminently rescued.
National Rescue Network for Sea Turtles phone number: 210 8944444, 6941511511
ARCHELON Peloponnese Project Assistant
ARCHELON Peloponnese Project Coordinator (tel.: 6951009785)
(translation: Betty-Maria Pagourdaki)