© Xαρίκλεια Μινώτου / WWF Ελλάς

A small beach that is less than 550 meters long has been a symbol of our action for the protection of wildlife in Greece for more than 30 years. This is Sekania beach in Zakynthos island. It is one of the most important “maternity wards” in the Mediterranean — and the beach with the biggest density of nests for the loggerhead sea turtle (Caretta caretta) in the world. 

With the establishment of the National Marine Park of Zakynthos in 1999, Sekania was designated as a zone of absolute protection, allowing only scientific research. By protecting this beach, we are doing more than just protecting an endangered species. We are protecting our natural heritage. The loggerhead sea turtle is part of the living history of the Greek seas and the coastline, as it has been swimming and nesting here for more than 100 million years! Steadily and over the years, with the contribution of our supporters and volunteers, we have a permanent presence at Sekania. Together we created a safe refuge for the loggerhead sea turtle and together we protect it!


The nesting beach of Sekania every year counts a notable number of nests which represent an average percentage of more than 45% of the total number of the nests recorded at all six different nesting beaches of the National Marine Park of Zakynthos (NMPZ). The nests can reach a range of 600-900 every nesting season.  

Despite these notable records, the continuous tourism development on the island of Zakynthos, primarily following the model of mass tourism, poses ongoing pressure on the coastal ecosystems. Construction, land use changes, infrastructure development, noise pollution, light pollution, covering beaches with beach furniture, and the large number of tourists, coupled with non-compliance with institutional frameworks and activities not adhering to the principles of carrying capacity and restrictions for area protection, gradually contribute to the degradation of the marine and terrestrial area of the NMPZ.

Ensuring effective protection for Sekania is the foremost challenge and priority for WWF Greece and its partners, which include the National Marine Park of Zakynthos - the governing body for the Protected Area - and other NGOs such as ARCHELON, The Sea Turtle Protection Society of Greece, and MEDASSET, the Mediterranean Association to Save the Sea Turtles. We safeguard the coastal slope to preserve its unique nesting suitability by implementing measures such as wildfire prevention, maintaining fire protection infrastructure, and enhancing fire prevention mechanisms in both Sekania and the surrounding area.

For the effective protection of Sekania beach and the loggerhead sea turtle, targeted interventions are required. To that end, we strengthen the wardening system and enhance the monitoring of important ecological parameters through the consolidation and expansion of the newly adopted methods and technologies to secure the design and implementation of an adaptive to the new challenges, management plan. We monitor the hunting of chicks by ghost crabs and seagulls using cameras to propose management measures. Additionally, for the improved management effectiveness of the NMPZ we monitor human activities and illegalities and we coordinate with NECCA, the NMPZ and our other partners in Zakynthos. We also monitor the implementation of the regulatory measures in the NMPZ, through targeted advocacy actions to promote effective enforcement (including complaints and legal action in cases of non-compliance), and we organize targeted campaigns to mobilize the public (e.g. against hydrocarbon development threatening the marine and coastal protected area of Zakynthos). Moreover, we conduct research to monitor the area’s ecological parameters such as monitoring of the beache’s dynamics, and the population of natural predators of hatchlings.

‘The Guards of Sekania’ against the fires

© Xαρίκλεια Μινώτου / WWF Ελλάς

WWF Greece every year works for ensuring the safety of the Sekania area and for protecting this important habitat of significant value. A fire would menace the nesting area, as the surface vegetation of the slopes behind would be destroyed and big quantities of mud would cover the sand, where the turtles lay their eggs. In this case the characteristics of the sand would changed and the new conditions would be unfit for nesting and successful incubation. WWF Greece every year acts as the “Guardian of Sekania” through its wardening program and actions of management and fire prevention (carrying out anti-erosion works, maintaining the surface vegetation in the existing paths, filling the water tanks etc.).

Our newest project aims to contribute to the implementation of the National Action Plan for Caretta caretta in Greece by conducting rapid assessments of the conservation status (overall condition, threats and pressures) of sea turtle nesting habitats by looking into key parameters impacting it (e.g. development, obstructions, other disturbances, light pollution, etc). Assessments will be carried out in a uniform, standardized manner, over a period of two years (2024-2025), and produced data will be analyzed in order to provide valuable, up-to-date information to relevant authorities, with the aim to affect present and future management decisions and policies. In the course of this project, priority will be given to sites included in the Natura 2000 network. Project activities will be implemented by teams of experienced personnel, as well as trained volunteers and local residents through citizen science activities. 

Our work is based on effective long term collaborations with authorities and specifically the National Marine Park of Zakynthos, and the Fire Department of Zakynthos, other NGOs including ARCHELON and MEDASSET, Universities such as the Ionian University, and the local community. As a result of our joint efforts, Sekania beach remains a paradise for the sea turtles and a beach which belongs to them!

Project leader: Charikleia Minotou


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