Saturday, June 15, 2019

Sea turtle nests — Caretta caretta nests

The beaches surrounding Vatika Bay and Elafonisos, the beaches of Limnes, Marathia, Platanistos, and all beaches on the east side of the Cape Malea peninsula from Velanidia to past Monemvasia, are prime loggerhead sea turtle nesting habitat. 

From May through September 2020, over 150 Caretta caretta nests were identified, verified, protected, and recorded. The local environmental protection NGO Toulipa Goulimyi has connected with the Sea Turtle Protection Society of Greece ARCHELON to keep detailed records of this important nesting area.

Toulpia Goulimyi volunteers patrol all the beaches regularly looking for turtle tracks, the first step in identifying a new nest. Trained volunteers then open each nest to verify the presence of eggs. A screen is placed over the nest to protect it from marauding skunks and weasels. A sign fixed to the nest tells when it was found and gives it an identification number. Forty-five to sixty days later, hatchlings dig their way up through the sand and head towards the brightest light. In the past, that was the moon reflecting on the waves of the sea. Once in the sea, the baby turtles will start their new lives. 

Sadly, street lights, house lights and business lights distract the turtle hatchlings, and instead of heading into the sea, they may head toward those brighter lights, become exhausted, and die on dry land.