Zakynthos: One beach for the sea turtles
The sandy beaches of Laganas Bay offer one of the most important nesting sites for the loggerhead sea turtle in the entire Mediterranean. One particular beach, Sekania, hosts the largest number of nests in the region. The uncontrolled tourism development along the coast has dramatically reduced the beaches available for loggerhead nesting.
In order to protect the endangered marine turtle species, WWF purchased the area surrounding Sekania beach, ensured that it remains free from visitors and buildings forever and helped establish a nature conservation area. Today, Laganas Bay and its beaches are part of the National Marine Park of Zakynthos, which was established in 1999.
The National Marine Park of Zakynthos
Thanks to intensive lobbying efforts by WWF Greece and the NGO “Archelon”, Laganas bay was designated a National Marine Park in 1999 and Sekania has been designated Zone A1 “absolutely protected area”. WWF Greece continues protecting this important ecosystem against human-induced threats. The organisation also contributes to the conservation of the entire NMPZ area, through its participation as board member in its Management Body.
Conservation action for the sea turtle beach
The specific objectives of WWF Greece’s work on Zakynthos are to safeguard good conservation status of Sekania beach and to pursue the proper operation of the National Marine Park. An integrated conservation monitoring plan for Sekania was designed in 1999 and has been implemented by WWF Greece since then. Through this plan, WWF Greece records important ecological parameters that influence the fragile ecosystem of Sekania and is able to plan for the proper conservation actions, always based on the “minimum intervention” principle.
In October 2001, a catastrophic wildfire entirely destroyed the forest cover of the slopes surrounding Sekania beach. The verdict issued by the Fire Brigade attributed the fire to arson. WWF Greece immediately responded to this crisis by mobilizing volunteer teams and securing generous donations in kind from WWF supporters and friends, in order to develop erosion control works along the slopes, before the winter rains began. These interventions proved vital, since the amount of mud sliding from the slopes to the beach was minimal, compared to the absolute lack of vegetation cover. Hence, the beach was saved, since the crust formed by the mud did not cover the entire part of the beach that is used for nesting by the sea turtles.
Project leader: Charicleia Minotou, email@example.com