Caretta-Caretta Sea Turtle in Crete

Loggerhead Turtle or Caretta Caretta

Caretta-Caretta sea turtle (loggerhead turtle) is the only species of Mediterranean sea-turtles that nests in Crete and Greece. Sea turtles are reputed to be strongly philopatric, and always return to the same beach they were born on to lay their own eggs.

caretta sea turtle

Nesting beaches in Greece are mainly located in Zakynthos, Peloponnese and Crete. To date, almost 4,000 sea turtles have been tagged in Zakynthos since 1982.

In Crete the highest nesting densities were found in:

  • Chania (116 nests on a total of 13.1 km of beach)
  • Rethymnon (385 nests on a total of 10.8 km of beach)
  • Messara Bay (58 nests on a total of 8.1 km of beach)

Caretta-Caretta sea turtle is an endangered species and it needs the help of us all. The Caretta-Caretta sea turtles are severely threatened by development, both legal and illegal, of nesting beaches. Due to the lack of infrastructure, the pressures of the tourist industry lead to considerable amounts of solid waste, litter, noise, traffic, pollution and coastal degradation. Each year, speedboats kill several turtles in the bay. In the evening, noise from discotheques, low-flying aircraft and the lights, frighten and disorientate nesting turtles and hatchlings.

Sea Turtle Protection Society of Greece – Archelon

The Sea Turtle Protection Society of Greece initiated an intensive tagging program in 1982 and is doing a great job so far. After initial surveys carried out between 1989-1990, ARCHELON identified significant numbers of nests along some of the beaches of Crete. Nest protection and monitoring as well as public awareness activities were started in 1990. Ever since, ARCHELON has been running a project in the three most important nesting areas of the island, Rethymnon and Chania along the northern coast and the Bay of Messara in the South.

A total of 33 km of beach are patrolled at a daily basis throughout the entire nesting and hatching season. Data collected between 1990 and 1998 present an average of 385 nests in Rethymno, 116 in Chania and 58 in Messara totaling 559 nests annually. Monitoring and excavation data give an estimated annual production of 37,000 hatchlings.

ARCHELON operates four seasonal and portable information stations throughout Crete. Stations consist of informative displays and small-scale models. ARCHELON volunteers, during the entire summer season, provide information and distribute leaflets to visitors. The information stations are located in Chania (old harbour), Rethymnon (next to the GNTO office) and Matala. They are open daily from May 15 to October 10, operating hours 10:00-14:00 & 18:00-22:00.

A First Aid Station and Environmental Station started operating in August 2005, in Pagalohori (Municipality of Arkadi at Rethymno, Crete). The Station operates in the context of LIFE-Nature project for the reduction of mortality of sea turtles at sea and is located close to the nesting beach of Rethymnon, which is one of the most important nesting beaches of the sea turtle Caretta caretta in the Mediterranean.

MEDASSET – The Mediterranean Association to Save the Sea Turtles

Another organization for the protection of Sea turtles is Medasset. The Mediterranean Association to Save the Sea Turtles is an international non-governmental organisation (NGO) founded in 1988, working for the conservation of sea turtles and their habitats throughout the Mediterranean. It has been involved in conservation and scientific research programmes, public awareness, environmental education and lobbying decision-makers.

Conservation landmarks were reached by surveying over 7300 km. of coastline from Sardinia to the NE Aegean and from the Ionian Sea to the Shores of Egypt and Libya. This unique information has been made public and has provided invaluable information about the life history of sea turtles in the Mediterranean.

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