The turn of May and June is the time when Caretta caretta turtles go ashore and make nests. This year in Crete, the first nest of these animals was noticed on May 25 on the beach in the Messara Bay area. Since then, Archelon volunteers have identified and tagged 28 nests in the Rethymno region, 24 nests in the Chania region and 21 nests in the Messara Bay area. These are the most common places in Crete where turtles make their nests. In other regions of the island, such as Sitia, such nests appear sporadically.
This year, an extraordinary incident also happened. During the morning patrol, one of the volunteers found traces of a turtle leading from the sea to a hotel located on a beach in Rethymno. So the volunteer followed these footsteps and found a turtle in the hotel pool. Unfortunately, this turtle lost its way after going ashore because it was probably confused by the hotel lights. Sometimes turtles confuse artificial light with moonlight reflected from the water's surface.
As you can imagine, this individual was quickly picked up from the pool and transported to the beach, where he was released into the sea. The path that this turtle has covered, man covers in 6.5 minutes. However, the adult Caretta caretta covered this distance for many hours, navigating between umbrellas and sunbeds left on the beach. Fortunately, the turtle came out of this "adventure" alive and returned to the sea in good shape.
However, when turtles start spawning in the areas where they nest, special recommendations from the Archeolon organization apply. They were written down precisely so as not to create such situations. Caretta caretta are endangered and are under protection. According to an estimate by Archelon, less than 1 in 1,000 turtles will reach childbearing age. However, when this happens, Caretta caretta females return to the same beach where they were born themselves. That is why it is so important to ensure that these endangered animals have the safest possible conditions for nesting.
As the turtles begin to lay their eggs, the coast is patrolled by volunteers from the Archelon organization, which actively supports the protection of these animals. Every day at 5 am, the volunteers go to the beaches where turtles have been known to have made their nests there so far. Volunteers check whether, under the cover of night, no traces of turtles have appeared on the sand at night. It is thanks to this systematic work that we learn about the newly established nests. Archelon started its activity on the beaches of Crete in 1990, i.e. 7 years after the organization was founded.
Each such newly discovered nest is described in detail by the volunteers and marked in a very visible way that facilitates their monitoring. In addition, tourists and residents are also warned that they should take special precautions while staying in their area. Unfortunately, human activity poses an additional threat to the development of turtles. The dynamic development of tourism on the Greek islands, which are the most popular breeding area, causes a systematic decrease in the number of Caretta caretta nests. Umbrellas driven on the beaches, a large number of sunbeds, artificial lights after dark, noise, driving on beaches and litter left by tourists, cause the slow dying out of turtles. Even ordinary plastic bags floating in the sea are associated by turtles with jellyfish as their delicacy, which is a deadly danger for them. The employees of the Archelon organization remind that with the beginning of the breeding season of turtles, special safe conditions should be created for them.
In fact, turtles do not impose particularly high requirements and in the breeding season it is enough to follow a few recommendations of Archelon.
More information about the Caretta caretta turtles and the Archelon organization can be found on our website: Caretta caretta turtles in Crete