BRIEF HISTORY OF THE SEA TURTLE
their holidays in the summer of 1977, Dimitris and Anna discovered
that many sea turtles nested on the island of Zakynthos.
They were loggerheads (Caretta caretta) and until
that time the scientific community was unaware of the fact
they had chosen some Greek beaches to nest. Dimitris and
Anna Margaritoulis got more involved, they collected data
that proved the importance of Zakynthos as a nesting site
and urged the Greek government to protect the beaches. Articles
were published in newspapers and magazines and speeches were
given throughout Greece.
1981: A monitoring
project was initiated on Zakynthos with financial assistance
from WWF Int. New very important loggerhead nesting beaches
were discovered by Dimitris, Anna and the first core of turtle
researchers in Greece, in the southern part of the Bay of
Kyparissia, on Peloponnesus.
1982: The Ministry
of Environment introduced the first measures to curtail development
in the Bay of Laganas, Zakynthos. The renowned sea turtle
expert, Dr. J. Frazier, visited Zakynthos and provided valuable
information. The same year, a tagging programme was initiated
in the Bay of Kyparissia. Another nesting site was discovered
in the Bay of Lakonikos, situated in southern Peloponnesus.
1983: The Sea Turtle
Protection Society (STPS) was founded. In recent years it
became known as ARCHELON. Its aim is to study and protect
the sea turtles and their habitats through fieldwork, management,
obbying, collaboration with stakeholders, public awareness
1984: The first
Presidential Decree was issued to protect the nesting areas
on Zakynthos. The European Community co-financed the projects
of Zakynthos and Kyparissia. The Universities of Athens and
Thessaloniki participated in the projects. The monitoring
project in the Bay of Lakonikos was started by ARCHELON.
Dimitris Margaritoulis was honoured by the Academy of Athens
for his work with sea turtles.
1985: ARCHELON started
an Environmental Education Programme in the schools of Zakynthos.
1986: It was discovered
that sea turtles nest in Kotychi (Peloponnesus). The first
ARCHELON newsletter in Greek was published. The Bern Convention
(Council of Europe) opens a file on Zakynthos and issues
the first recommendations for the protection of Zakynthos
nesting sites. The first international annual ecological
meeting was organised on Zakynthos. Two more followed. Lily
Kornaraki set up the first ARCHELON information outlet, a
tent, in the Bay of Laganas. The "Sponsor a sea turtle" scheme
was conceived and formulated.
1987: A Ministerial
Decision introduced a Housing Control Zone in the broader
area of Laganas Bay to protect the nesting beaches. Presentations
were extended to schools all over the country. Supported
by WWF Int., ARCHELON embarked upon a comprehensive public
awareness programme on Zakynthos. The first seasonal information
station was set up in Laganas.
first international volunteers joined the project on Zakynthos.
ARCHELON's monitoring projects on the nesting beaches of
Zakynthos, the Bays of Kyparissia and Lakonikos and Rhodes
were co-financed by the European Community. Local landowners
ousted ARCHELON project members from the beach of Daphni
(on Zakynthos) where they had started to build illegally.
The first boating regulations were introduced in the Bay
of Laganas, with two zones. A second information station
was set up by ARCHELON at Gerakas, Zakynthos.
1989: A project
aiming to inform fishermen in the Bay of Lakonikos was started.
The first official recording of green turtles (the second
sea turtle species found in the Mediterranean nesting mainly
in Cyprus and Turkey) was made in Lakonikos. A big wildfire
destroyed the vegetation on the beaches of Sekania and Daphni.
Violence on Zakynthos against ARCHELON members continued.
A three-year project to investigate potential nesting areas
in Greece was initiated with the support of the European
Community. Through the Sea Turtle Rescue Network that was
created by ARCHELON in co-operation with the port authorities,
dead and injured sea turtles are reported from all over Greece.
The injured sea turtles were treated by ARCHELON members
or transported for treatment to the Wildlife Hospital on
Aegina or to the Rhodes Hydrobiological Station.
1990: A Presidential
Decree strengthened the legal status of the Zakynthos nesting
beaches. ARCHELON opened its head office in Athens. The coast
of Greece were surveyed and new important nesting sites were
discovered on Crete. The monitoring projects at Rethymnon
and Chania were launched. Violence on Zakynthos culminated
in volunteers been injured by indignant locals. The information
station at Gerakas was destroyed. The
"Turtle briefcase", which was the first portable
educational programme for schools in Greece, was created
1991: The Ministry
of Environment decided to proceed with the creation of a
National Marine Park on Zakynthos. Efforts to build on Marathonissi
(Zakynthos) were thwarted following concerted actions by
ARCHELON, other NGOs, local communities, and the local Church.
ARCHELON opened a branch office in Zakynthos town. The public
awareness project at Rethymnon was started. ARCHELON became
a member of the European Union for Coastal Conservation (EUCC).
1992: ARCHELON supported
WWF Greece to purchase land behind the Sekania beach and
protect it (by preventing building, etc.). Sekania is the
most important loggerhead nesting beach in the Mediterranean.
Co-funding was received from the European Commission. ARCHELON,
WWF, GREENPEACE and the Ecological Movement of Zakynthos
(ZOK) drafted guidelines for the creation of the National
Marine Park of Zakynthos, with the support of the local authorities
and submitted them to the Ministry of Environment. A branch
office was opened in Rethymnon. ARCHELON's first English
"Turtle Tracks" was issued.
1993: ARCHELON celebrated
its 10th anniversary. The Secretary General of the Ministry
of Environment turned down the guidelines prepared by the
NGOs for the Marine Park. GREENPEACE, ARCHELON and ZOK demonstrate
in the Bay of Laganas against speedboats that keep killing
turtles. Seminars on environmental education were carried
out for teachers on Crete. ARCHELON was awarded the FORD
environmental prize for the protection of nature. A second
educational briefcase was created, "Life on the coast".
Sea Turtle Rescue Centre, a hospital for sea turtles and
an information outlet, was established in Glyfada, on a coastal
location offered by the Municipality of Glyfada. Dimitris
Margaritoulis became a member of the Executive Committee
of the IUCN Marine Turtle Specialist Group. ARCHELON was
given the TUI award for the protection of the environment.
TUI is the largest tour operator worldwide. Speedboats were
banned from the rest of the Bay of Laganas with the introduction
of a third zone. Night flights were banned at the Zakynthos
airport. The first seasonal information stations operated
on Peloponnesus. The third ARCHELON branch office opened
in Kyparissia Bay. Purchase of Sekania by WWF Greece finalised.
1995: On 5 June,
the Sea Turtle Rescue Centre was officially opened. A three-year
project (LIFE) partly financed by the European Union, was
initiated on Crete. The aim of this project was to produce
and implement a management plan for the loggerhead nesting
beaches on the island.
1996: ARCHELON organised
a Mediterranean Training Course on Sea Turtle Biology and
Conservation with the co-operation of the Ministry of Environment
and UNEP/RAC-SPA and the participation of 7 countries.
1997: A renowned
sea turtle specialist, Dr.Colin Limpus from Australia, visited
the ARCHELON projects of Glyfada, Zakynthos, and Kyparissia
Bay. The Management plan for the beaches of Crete was presented
to the authorities of Rethymnon. A project co-financed by
the European Union (LIFE) was started in Lakonikos Bay, which
included the drafting of a management plan.
1998: A project
co-financed by the European Union (LIFE) was started in Southern
Kyparissia Bay, which included the drafting of a management
plan, co-operation with fishermen. The management plan for
the nesting habitats of Crete was submitted to the Ministry
of Environment. ARCHELON celebrated its 15th anniversary.
Dimitris Margaritoulis assumed the position of Vice-Chair
in the Executive Committee of the IUCN Marine Turtle Specialist
Group, responsible for the areas of the Mediterranean and
North-East Atlantic. Pilot sand dune restoration project
was started at Evrotas.
1999: The Presidential
Decree for the establishment of the National Marine Park
of Zakynthos was signed. Co-funded by the European Union,
ARCHELON participated in a project monitoring the impact
of fishing activity on the sea turtle populations in the
Mediterranean. The European Commission announced the commencing
of infringement procedures against Greece for failing to
comply with the Habitats Directive concerning the protection
of the loggerhead turtle on Zakynthos.
2000: The Management
Agency of the National Marine Park of Zakynthos was established.
It was the first management agency of a protected area in
Greece. ARCHELON and WWF Greece are jointly represented on
the Board of the Management Agency. The first Environmental
Centre was opened by ARCHELON at Lakonikos Bay and the first
nature trail amongst the dunes was constructed. ARCHELON
became a partner to the UNEP -Mediterranean Action Plan.
second Environmental Centre at Agiannakis in Kyparissia Bay
was opened by ARCHELON. The European Court of Justice condemned
Greece for violation of the Habitats Directive as it failed
to fully protect the nesting beaches on Zakynthos. The third
portable educational kit "Fishermen and sea turtles" was
2002: A new project
(LIFE Nature) co-funded by the European Commission aimed
to reduce deaths of turtles caught in fishing gear was initiated
by ARCHELON. In co-operation with local Municipalities ARCHELON
ran several conservation projects on Crete and Peloponnesus
co-funded by the Ministry of Environment (ETERPS). The first
telemetry project in Amvrakikos was initiated by ARCHELON
to track migratory routes of loggerheads frequenting the
2003: In the context
of the new LIFE project ARCHELON constructed the first mobile
exhibition in Greece on sea turtles and interaction with
fisheries. FORD donated a van to this purpose. ARCHELON celebrated
its 20th anniversary. ARCHELON became a member on the Boards
of three new Management Agencies of protected areas (Amvrakikos
Bay, Kotychi-Strofilia and Mesolonghi Lagoons), where sea
turtles occur. A second nature trail was constructed in a
coastal forest at Elaia (Kyparissia Bay).
2004: A Mediterranean
Workshop for Hospitalization of injured turtles is realized
at the Municipality of Glyfada. The monitoring of nesting
beaches was initiated in Syria and the first results obtained.
The "Forest Path" is created, the "Nature
Path" is expanded, a bird Observatory and resting lodge
are constructed, the surrounding area at Agiannaki Station
is landscaped and the auxiliary areas at Evrotas Station
are organized. Mr. Dimitris Margaritoulis is nominated as
president of the International Sea Turtle Society for 2005-2006.
ARCHELON continues cooperating with the Greek Society for
Nature Protection for the Blue Flags.
2005: The next International
Symposium for the Sea Turtle will be held in Crete on April
2006, for which Mr. D. Margaritoulis has been nominated as
president. In the context of the LIFE-Nature Programme, two
new First Aid Stations began operating in Amvrakikos Bay
and Pagalohori of Rethymno. Furthermore, the operation of
the new Volunteers Training Centre has started at the Rescue
Centre in Glyfada in cooperation with the General Youth Secretariat
(GYS) and many events have taken place.
2006: The 26th International
Symposium of Sea Turtles took place in April 2006, where
around 700 people from all over the world participated. The
programme "We can all live together", supported by VODAFONE
Foundation Group, commenced in 2006. The LIFE-Nature Project
(LIFE2002NAT/GR/8500) for the reduction of sea turtles' mortality
was successfully completed. The project had commenced in
2007: New awareness
programmes took place during 2007. Pizza Hut conducted in
their shops a new awareness programme for young children
and the General Secretariat for Youth sponsored a new programme
which promoted environmental education awareness. Furthermore,
during 2007 the "people of the sea" programme supported by
VODAFONE GROUP FOUNDATION, was completed. The Rescue Center
facilities are broadened as well as ARCHELON's presence in
the media. On the other hand, the reduction of the number
of nests in Crete is raising concerns about the future number
of nests in the area.
2008: The "good
news" in 2008 was
that we had a great number of turtle nesting for the first
time in Kyparissia Bay. ARCHELON has been protecting, over
the last 25 years, all nests along the southern part of
the Bay and saves thousands of hatchlings each year.
that in 2008 we had too many dead turtles all over Greece,
not only as victims of incidental fisherie interactions
but also of intentional killings.
The Youth Group accomplished
the 1st camp
for its members during the Lakonikos Bay program.
On the occasion of ARCHELON's 25th anniversary
a great presentation was organized on November 5th in the
TECHNOPOLIS area, where officials, unofficials, members,
supporters, old/new volunteers and friends congratulated
and wished ARCHELON for its long-standing and successful
Unfortunately, the general financial crisis
affected our Society during the last few months of 2008,
basically due to the payment delay of 4 supported programs
by the Ministry of Affairs.
of Partnership alterations
proposed during the General Meeting were approved and shall
be published soon.
In 2009 the
lowest record of nests (824) was reported in Zakynthos,
since the Society first started the recording program in1984,
a fact which is actually very concerning.
in co-operation with the municipality of Avlona, a program
of the General
Secretariat of Youth was completed during 2009. This included
the construction of a fire observation area, footpath in
the forest and placement of information signs regarding
conservation of the areas biodiversity.
Furthermore, this was the year of another
negative record. 2009 indicated
the most strandings (389) of dead and injured turtles all
over Greece. Among these, 55 of which were found injured,
were all transferred to the Rescue Centre for treatment.
the past year the 2nd Youth
Group camp, "Helonoparea", also took place in Mavrovouni
- Gytheio with the participation of 13 children aged 10-14
and 6 officials.