More than 700 sea turtles were found stranded on Greek shores in 2020
Each and every year the Sea Turtle Rescue Centre of ARCHELON receives all the «Sea Turtle Stranding Sheets” from the Greek Coast Guard Units, along with photos and other relevant information. "We have just finished updating the database with the reports of dead sea turtle stranded in 2020, which exceeded 700, for the first time," said Irini Kassimati, a wildlife rehabilitation biologist, who is the Rescue and Rehabilitation Officer at the Centre.
The local Coast Guards are responsible for the official recording of the stranding of dead sea turtles in Greece, as well as for the notification of the Municipal Authority that takes care of their sanitary disposal, according to a relevant Circular of the Ministry of Civil Protection. Copies of the "Sea Turtle Stranding Sheets" are circulated by the Coast Guard to the Ministry of Environment, to the Veterinary Service of the respective Regional Unit, to the Veterinary School of Thessaloniki University, to the Hellenic Centre for Marine Research and to ARCHELON.
"The reported dead turtles stranded on the beaches do not represent the total number of deaths that occur every year," said Dimitris Fytilis, the Manager of the Rescue Centre who is oceanographer by training. Although the number of reports of dead turtles washed upon shores has increased in recent years, the actual number of turtle deaths in the sea is unknown. This is because the coastline of Greece is quite extensive (about 17,000 km long), and includes largely steep coasts, where there is no access for people.
The most serious threats to sea turtles in the Mediterranean are related to their accidental capture of fishing gear, plastic and garbage pollution at sea and the tourist development of their nesting beaches. However, in most cases of strandings, it is not easy to locate the exact area where the particular problem occurred, as currents and waves can carry dead animals over long distances.
"We systematically examine each case of stranding, with the aim of better organizing the Rescue Network and assessing the threats faced by sea turtles in the different regions," Irini said, "but targeted research is needed to address these threats. The aim is the decrease of accidental catches by Greek fishing vessels, where it is estimated that about 9.700 sea turtles are caught every year”. Plastic waste at sea is also a pending issue both for sources from land and for marine vessels of all kinds.
Walking up to a dead sea turtle on the shore evokes a feeling of sadness and anxiety about the state of the environment. In the last two years, the interest of people and their willingness/capability to report such incidents has gone up. ARCHELON has been receiving an increasing number of phone calls and messages on social media about sea turtles stranding and passes on information about the procedure to be followed, in order to avoid double entries.
What to do in case of stranding of a dead sea turtle
You need to inform the nearest Coast Guard Unit, so that the registration of the dead animal can be done by filling in a special form (Sea Turtle Stranding Sheet). If possible, the local veterinarian is called to determine the death and the causes of it.
[CIRCULAR with Reg. Number: M-2131.5.1 / 01/2010 of 08/01/2010, issuing authority Ministry of Citizen Protection, Coast Guard, Port Police Directorate, Department of Fisheries]
See more on the most significant causes of sea turtle strandings here: https://www.archelon.gr/eng/ournews.php?mid=6&mid2=16&nid=1137
For more information
Irini Kassimati, Rescue & Rehabilitation Officer, Tel./Fax: 210 8944 444, 6941 511 511, e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org.
Dimitris Fytilis, Rescue Centre Officer, Tel. 210 8982 600, 6944 929 622, e-mail: email@example.com