THE TURTLES OF ZAKYNTHOS
Zakynthos is home to the endangered Loggerhead Turtle, Caretta Caretta. The Bay of Laganas is the most important breeding ground for the Mediterranean Loggerhead, although they can be found in Turkey and Italy as well. The sandy beaches of the Lagana Bay are now a protected area, it is unfortunate that the breeding grounds for these magnificent animals is also the place where the holiday maker comes to soak up the sun, sea and sand.
Turtles return to the beach where they were born, to nest, the mating season is around April - June with the hatchlings being born about 60 days after the eggs have been laid. This of course coincides with the peak holiday season. There are six main nesting beaches in the Bay of Lagana, by far the most important of these is Sekania.
Sekania has one of the highest density of nests in the world. The beach measures just 550m in length but can produce over 600 nest per annum. The other beaches in the bay have very much been compromised by tourism in the 80's and 90's. For this reason the WWF - Greece purchased 32.7 hectares of land surrounding Sekania. No one is allowed on this beach and the regulations also ensure that no boats are allowed in this area. It is now considered 'Turtle Paradise'. The beach is guarded daily from June until October.
WHAT YOU CAN DO TO ENSURE THE CONTINUING HEALTH OF OUR LOGGERHEAD TURTLES
Most people who come to Zante would love to see a turtle but please be aware that this is not always possible. Weather conditions and the time of year will determine if they are about. Do not be too disappointed if you don't get a glimpse. Please however follow these few simple rules.
- Please respect the volunteers on the beach who will tell you where you can sit or not.
- Don't let your child play with the canopies over the nests.
- Don't leave litter on the beach especially empty water bottles.
- If you see a turtle in distress while swimming please inform the nearest volunteer don't attempt to help it yourself as they can give you a nasty bite.
- If you are lucky enough to be there when a nest hatches, don't touch the baby turtles they need to make their own way to the sea.
- Don't drive on the beach. Part of the beach in Laganas where you could drive is now shut as a new road has been built behind the bars to accommodate the traffic.
- Don't push sun umbrellas into the soft sand on a Turtle beach as they can puncture an egg and the whole nest will then be lost.