© Joakim Odelberg / WWF Ελλάς
Caretta caretta turtle

How many ways are there for us to look back in time? One way is to observe the stars in the night sky. Their light takes millions of years to travel to Earth, which means that what we are seeing is their reflection from the distant past.

Another way is to look at the bottom of the sea. Seven species of sea turtles are still swimming in our planet’s oceans after 100 million years! One of them is the loggerhead turtle (Caretta caretta), which we are lucky enough to have nest in the Greek seas.

This species is a symbol of the Mediterranean and the Greek seas. Greece hosts approximately 60% of the nests in the Mediterranean and two of the species most important breeding sites:  the National Marine Park of Zakynthos, with its six nesting beaches in Laganas Bay in Zakynthos, and the southern part of the Kyparissia gulf in western Peloponnese.

Although it has survived successfully for millions of years, the loggerhead turtle faces extinction if we do not act immediately. 

The ancient resident of the Greek seas

Loggerhead turtles are 75-100 cm long and they weigh 100-135 kilos, although they may be even larger. They live for more than 100 years and are a migratory species.

Females return to lay their eggs on the same beaches on which they hatched. During each reproductive period, Caretta caretta females build 2-3 nests.

In each nest, loggerhead turtles lay up to 120 eggs that will remain there for 55-60 days, until they hatch. Just 1 out of every 1,000 hatchlings survives to adulthood.

OUR WORK

At WWF Greece we have been taking the protection of Caretta caretta turtles personally for decades. Our first initiatives started in the 1980s. In 1994 we organised a European campaign, and, with the money that was collected by the European Commission and private contributions, we purchased 90% of the area around Sekania beach in order to protect it. We did this because Sekania beach, which is only 550 metres long, is the most important Caretta caretta “nursery” in the Mediterranean, with 500-1.000 nests every year!

Since then, we have a permanent presence in the region. Whether on our own or through our participation in the National Marine Park of Zakynthos Management Agency, we promote in every way we can – both in the local community and on an international level – the protection of loggerhead turtles and their habitats.

The threats Caretta caretta turtles face in Greece

  • Degradation of nesting beaches and coastal ecosystems
  • Collisions with vessels
  • Intentional killings
  • Plastic sea pollution
  • Light & sound pollution
  • Climate change
  • Hydrocarbon mining
  • Entrapment in fishing gear

If you see an injured and/or dead sea turtle

Immediately call ‘Archelon’, the Sea Turtle Protection Society of Greece at +30 210 8944444 or at +30 6941511511 and the local Coast Guard. Within protected areas please also inform the competent Management Agency. Notify if you see a nest  in the sand and hatchlings. If you see hatchlings, DO NOT transfer them to the sea. Clear a path for them and let them find their own way. It is important to their survival.

© Χαρίκλεια Μινώτου / WWF Ελλάς

Our action for the loggerhead turtle

Our action for the loggerhead turtle has been ceaseless and multifaceted over the decades:  

We inform and raise the awareness of local communities and tourists, but also of the wider public in Greece  and globally. 

We implement dozens of protection and management actions (e.g. anti-erosion works, dynamic synergies with agencies and other NGOs, policy actions regarding the institutional protection framework for nesting beeches and its implementation, systematic guarding of Sekania every summer, and fire protection actions).  

We coordinate beach cleanings and other voluntary actions.

We participate in monitoring actions for the management and protection of the loggerhead turtles 

We implement environmental education programmes. 

We also participate in the project “Conservation of Marine Turtles in the Mediterranean Region” that aims to strengthen the protection of marine sea turtles in our common sea by reducing human induced mortality. 

LEARN MORE ABOUT OUR WORK IN SEKANIA

WHAT YOU CAN DO

Adopt a Caretta caretta! Through a symbolic adoption, you can become an active ally in our struggle to save the unique and endangered species of Greece.