Συλλόγου για την Προστασία της Θαλάσσιας Χελώνας, ΑΡΧΕΛΩΝ

 

Programmes

Life Nature Project

Reduction of mortality of Caretta caretta in the Greek seas

The loggerhead turtle (Caretta caretta) is listed as an endangered species within the EU boundaries. It is included in Annex II (priority species) and Annex IV of the Habitats Directive (92/43/EEC). Since its major nesting areas in Greece have been identified and are under various protective and management schemes (all included in the national list of proposed Natura 2000 sites), mortality at sea emerges as a high priority, which if not addressed might also undermine conservation efforts at nesting areas.

The project deals with two major threats Caretta caretta faces at sea:
1. Indirect (delayed) mortality. Prolonged submergence after capture in fishing gear may cause anoxia, which brings the turtle to a comatose state. Turtles in comatose condition thrown back into the sea usually drown. Additionally, turtles released with ingested hooks and fishing lines are subject to secondary severe health problems.
2. Deliberate mutilations, killings or attempts (intentional mortality) following incidental captures. Many fishermen try to kill incidentally captured turtles as they consider them as competitors and responsible for damages to fishing gear.

Project objectives
In accordance with the above threats, project objectives are summarised as the reduction of losses of Caretta caretta at sea, owing to delayed and intentional mortality following incidental capture.

Actions and means involved in achieving the above objective are:
1. Upgrading of existing sea turtle rehabilitation facilities to treat and release injured turtles nation-wide, in co-operation with Municipality of Glyfada.
2. Upgrading of existing Sea Turtle Stranding Network, in co-operation with Port Police Stations and Fisheries Departments throughout Greece and evaluation of areas with high numbers of stranding reports ("hot spots").
3. Collaborative programme with fishermen and creation of First Aid Stations at two selected "hot spots" and organised interventions in 4 other "hot spots".
4. Evaluation of behaviour of treated turtles following release from the ARCHELON-Rescue Centre through flipper tagging and satellite tracking.
5. Awareness campaign for the general public, fishermen, schoolchildren and other groups, assisted by production of audio-visual material.
6. Improvement and standardisation of rehabilitation practices through international exchange of experience.
7. Elaboration of a national Action Plan for the Conservation of Sea Turtles.