A total of 783 nests & 93,960 eggs were recorded solely on Sekania beach over the past year. Nevertheless, Caretta caretta still faces threats that endanger the species’ future in the Mediterranean, and needs our help now more than ever.

2018 ended with notably positive news on loggerhead sea turtle population status in Zakynthos. It was a record year regarding the number of the nests that were hosted on the island’s beaches.

In particular, during the nesting period (May – October 2018) a total of 1,464 nests were recorded by the Sea Turtle Protection Society of Greece “ARCHELON” and the National Marine Park of Zakynthos (NMPZ) on the six beaches of Laganas Bay.

More than half - 783 nests to be exact - were located on Sekania beach. This number reaffirms the fact that Sekania is by far the most important loggerhead turtle nesting habitat in the Mediterranean. In a stretch of little more than 500m, this beach also records one of the highest nesting densities for the species worldwide.

The 783 nests which were recorded last year in Sekania, contained 93,960 eggs in total. However, even if all of these eggs were to hatch, only 94 turtles would survive, as only one out of 1,000 hatchlings makes it to adulthood.

Despite the positive figures for 2018, the loggerhead sea turtle remains an endangered species. In Greece, Caretta caretta still faces many threats, which are mostly human-generated: ecological degradation of its nesting beaches due to tourism and residential development, light pollution, disturbances in the marine area, trapping in fishing gear, coastal erosion, marine pollution (e.g. plastics) and climate change are only a few factors that still threaten the survival of the species in the Greek seas and in the Mediterranean.

Offshore oil and gas drilling is now being added to these factors. Seismic surveys planned in the Ionian Sea, in the course of oil and gas exploration, may cause permanent or temporary hearing loss in sea turtles, thus affecting their water orientation skills, making difficult the search for food or even the successful tracking of their nesting beach.

The need to protect this threatened species remains imperative. In this framework, WWF Greece carried out, for one more year, a wardening program in Sekania, which is legally designated as an area of absolute protection within NMPZ. The guarding of the area lasted for four months. Indicative of the threats that the marine turtle faces, is the fact that during the 960 hours worked by the wardens, 226 incidents of violations were recorded –most of them were settled immediately, in cooperation with NMPZ and Port Authority.

At the same time, the seagull monitoring program continued, as gulls are the main predator of Caretta caretta hatchlings in Sekania, and 360 different incidents were recorded. Meanwhile, WWF's work on the island included the Sekania beach clean-up from plastics and other waste1, as well as a pilot campaign to reduce and gradually eliminate plastic straws2 in Zakynthos, which took place the past summer. The ultimate goal of all the above was the most timely and effective address of the factors that threaten this unique species.

Caretta caretta’s protection concerns us all

WWF Greece’s collaborations with NMPZ, Zakynthos’ Fire Brigade, Port Authority, Technological Educational Institute of Ionian Islands, ARCHELON - The Sea Turtle Protection Society of Greece and other NGOs active in the area, are strong, as is the support from WWF Sweden. These partnerships are a major point of reference for the most effective action in order to protect the area and the sea turtle.

The need to join forces becomes stronger, as the threats that Caretta caretta faces constantly increase and along with them the likelihood that this species will disappear from the Greek seas and the Mediterranean.

As a new year begins, and through the WWF Greece’s website, you can make a difference and "adopt" a Caretta caretta. This way, you will help the organization to continue its work in Sekania, so that it will remain an exclusive sea turtle nesting beach for years to come.

Notes to editors:

  1. During the Sekania beach clean-up in 2018, approximately 425 kg of waste were collected.
  2. During the pilot campaign to reduce and gradually eliminate plastic straws, the use of at least 20,073 pieces was prevented.

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