A small beach that is less than 550 metres long has been a symbol of our action for the protection of wildlife in Greece for more than 27 years. This is Sekania beach in Zakynthos. A small but very important strip of coastline that highlights the importance of protected areas and sustainable management on a national and international level.
Sekania beach is the most important “maternity ward” in the Mediterranean — and the beach with the biggest density of nests in the world — for the sea turtle Caretta caretta. By protecting this beach, we are doing more than just protecting an endangered species. We are protecting our natural heritage. Caretta caretta 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 permanent presence at Sekania. Together we created a safe refuge for the Caretta and together we protect it!
A story of success and cooperation
For us at WWF Greece, Sekania beach is a benchmark with symbolic character: history always shows that when we join forces we can achieve anything! Our first efforts to protect the Caretta started in the 1980s. It was then that we realised, in good time, the environmental valueof the area, and in 1994 we led aEurope-wide campaign to purchase the area around the beach in order to safeguard Sekania from the touristic development. And we did it! Moreover, since 1999, with the establishment of the National Marine Park of Zakynthos, the region has been characterised as an absolutely protected area.
The nesting beach at Sekania every year records a notable number of nests which represent an average percentage of more than 45% of the total amount of the recorded nests at the six different nesting beaches of the National Marine Park of Zakynthos. The nests can reach a range of 600-900 every nesting season.
These notable records are the result of the legislative framework, the effective management and monitoring, and our permanent presence on Sekania beach. Mainly, however, they are proof that persistence and — more than anything else — collaboration are always the answer to the challenges we face.
For the effective protection of Sekania beach and the Caretta caretta, specific and well scheduled actions are required. To that end, we sit on the Management Agency of the National Marine Park of Zakynthos, sharing a seat with other NGOs active in the area, we lead management and protection initiatives, we co-organise beach cleaning, we contribute to the wardening and the supervision of the area for preventing fires, for recording illegalities etc. We also work in a policy level for the implementation of existing legislation, we organise campaigns (e.g. against hydrocarbon extraction that threatens the marine and coastal protected area of Zakynthos), and we implement actions with environmental character as monitoring of beach dynamic, of the population of one of the main predators of hatchlings, the seagulls etc.
Our work is based on effective long term collaborations with authorities as the Fire Department of Zakynthos, with NGOs as ARCHELON and MEDASSET, Universities as the Ionian University, Institutions, Individuals. An important collaboration is with the National Marine Park of Zakynthos, the responsible authority for the Protected Area, in which we participate sharing a seat with other NGOs. As a result Sekania remain a paradise for the sea turtles and a beach which belongs to them!
‘The Guards of Sekania’ against the fires
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 will be destroyed and big quantities of mud will cover the sand, where the turtles lay their eggs. In this case the characteristics of the sand will be changed and the new conditions will 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, fulfilling the water tanks etc.).
Adopt a Caretta! Through a symbolic adoption, you can become an active ally in our struggle to save the unique and endangered species of Greece.