An unexpectedly high number of loggerhead nests in Greece and throughout the Mediterranean makes 2020 stand out as the Year of the Sea Turtle
Is 2020 the year of loggerhead sea turtles? The nests of this protected sea turtle species that were recorded this year by ARCHELON in 75km. of the main nesting beaches in Greece amount to 6,500, a number dramatically higher than the 5,400 nests recorded last year on the same beaches. There has been a similar increase in other countries as well, which is attributed to the environmental conditions that prevailed in the Mediterranean in previous years, and has nothing to do with the quarantine and the effects of the coronavirus pandemic in general.
The coronavirus, however, resulted in a large shortage of ARCHELON volunteers this year, mainly those from abroad who could not travel, but we managed to carry out monitoring and protection of the reproduction of loggerheads in 75 km of nesting beaches in Greece. Dedicated volunteers helped in all areas, most of them residents in Greece, as well as the staff and members of ARCHELON, who carried out this difficult mission by forming small groups.
These 75km of nesting beaches include the beaches in Laganas bay, where ARCHELON collaborates with the National Marine Park of Zakynthos, the southern part of Kyparissia bay , the area of Kotychi lagoon, the beaches of Romanos Messinias, Lakonikos bay, as well as Rethymno, Chania and Messara bay in Crete.
About 6,500 nests have been recorded in these 75 kilometers of beaches, to date. These are preliminary data of course, as, there is a crosscheck during the hatching period we are going through now, in order to have the final number and to compare it with previous years. Nevertheless, even the preliminary data show that in 2020 we had a significant increase in nests compared to 2019, where ARCHELON had recorded about 5,400 nests on the same beaches. From our contacts with programs in other Mediterranean countries, we have learned that there has been a similar increase in other countries, the causes of which must be sought in the environmental conditions that have prevailed in recent years in the habitats of sea turtles throughout the Mediterranean.
Less than 100 researchers / volunteers are participating this year in ARCHELON’s monitoring and protection of nests and the effort of their small groups of in the field is still going on. How many baby turtles will hatch this year? This will be determined after the nests hatch and the data on the number of hatchlings that came out of the nests are collected and processed.
However, as is well known, not all hatchlings reach the sea. As soon as they come out of the nests, they have to complete a difficult and dangerous route, where they have to deal not only with various predators but also with the light pollution that characterizes most nesting beaches. On these beaches, a huge effort is made by the researchers and volunteers of ARCHELON to save the hatchlings that are disoriented by the lights.
Since the beginning of August, ARCHELON has appealed to residents, businesses and visitors to the nesting beaches to turn off the lights after 11 pm until the end of September. At the same time, the Municipalities and the local Coast Guards were informed about the appropriate handling of disorientation incidents of hatchlings in their areas. So, please be careful for a few more weeks!
We thank the dozens of friends who contact us to help hatchlings from sporadic nests on the beaches of the Aegean, the Ionian and the rest of coastal Greece. Happy autumn to all of you!
Information on nest protection, volunteering and the adoption program of ARCHELON can be found on our website www.archelon.gr.