According to ARCHELON, The Sea Turtle Protection Society of Greece, 2020 has seen an unusually high number of loggerhead sea turtle nests in waters around Greece and in the Mediterranean as a whole.
After surveying the 75 km (47 miles) of Greek beaches which serve as nesting sites for the beautiful, gentle creatures, ARCHELON found 6,500 nests, a heartening increase from last year’s 5,400.
Encouragingly, this upward trend has also been recorded in other Mediterranean countries.
ARCHELON argues that this uptick in nests has less to do with quarantining and other COVID-19 related measures, and more to do with shifting environmental factors in the Mediterranean Sea which are more conducive to sea turtle nesting.
The increase in the number of nests, however, does not necessarily indicate that there will be more loggerhead turtles in Greece waters once the eggs hatch. ARCHELON volunteers will record the population once they hatch, but the baby turtles face a treacherous journey before they reach the sea.
Often, predators scavenge along the beach during hatching to find their next meal. But while other animals are a threat to baby turtles, so is human activity. Light pollution is one of the largest threats to sea turtle populations, since baby sea turtles instinctively depend on the light of the moon to guide them to the sea safely.
Human activity, including lights from street lamps, hotels, and residences, can confuse the newly-hatched sea turtles and cause them to move away from the sea — and to their death.
From August through September, when loggerheads usually hatch, ARCHELON has urged residents near nesting sites to keep their lights off after 11 PM to avoid disorienting the young loggerheads.
Most of the nesting sites are found on the island of Zakynthos, while there are also beaches on Crete that host many turtle nests.
The Loggerhead, although found throughout the world’s seas, is considered to be an endangered species. They are threatened globally by increasing sea temperatures, human activity such as light pollution, and waste that is found in the world’s waters, especially plastics.