Loggerhead sea turtles are seeing positive change this nesting season in Zakynthos, Greece.
Normally, these endangered turtles have to suffer through the chaos of tourism right when they are supposed to be having a restful egg-laying season, which starts in May.
But this year, COVID-19 made things a lot quieter for the Caretta caretta. Charikleia Minotou runs the program for the species’ protection in Zakynthos. She says the calmness has left them undisturbed:
There is no beach furniture, music or lights – factors that disturb the Caretta caretta – at any of the six main nesting areas.Charikleia Minotou
One of these nesting areas, and one of the Mediterranean Sea’s most crucial nesting areas for the species, is Sekania beach. Sekania beach is located within Zakynthos National Marine Park.
During May and June, volunteers and researchers found nearly 300 nests on the beach. These volunteers and researchers are part of Archelon: the Sea Turtle Protection Society of Greece.
Archelon has focused on the observation and conservation of these turtle’s nests for decades. Their efforts on Laganas bay’s six sites began in 1983. In 1999, the National Marine Park of Zakynthos was created, and Archelon has worked with the park from the get-go.
Now that the loggerhead turtles are making more nests, the WWF has upped security at the sites. Three guards—instead of the previous two—are on duty. The guards ensure the upholding of protection laws as they warn visitors and watch for seagulls. They need to watch for seagulls because they are the biggest threat to turtle eggs and babies.
Also, Zakynthos residents who have more free time right now have been stepping up:
Residents have been participating in a number of volunteer initiatives of an environmental nature, cleaning beaches, green areas and roads, prettifying various spots and embellishing telephone junction boxes.Charikleia Minotou
We will have to wait to see the long-term effects of today’s circumstances. However, Minotou says that now “is an opportunity for the turtles to return at their own pace, to fall in love, mate and give birth on the beaches, as dictated by their biology.” The sea turtles migrate every few years, but they always return to their birthplace beach to lay eggs.
Hopefully, today’s conditions will also bring more attention to “the failure of the ‘Laganas model,’ of beach bars” and busy beaches, so further nesting seasons can be peaceful ones for the loggerhead sea turtles.
Article source: Kathimerini
Featured image source: Charikleia Minotou/WWF Greece