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Caretta Caretta

caretta-carettaThe Gulf of Kyparissia is one of the most important spawning grounds for the sea turtle caretta-caretta.

The turtles begin their life as embryos in eggs that the female turtles lay on sandy beaches.

The temperature determines the sex of embryos in each nest.   The Caretta caretta, one of the seven species of sea turtles found on the planet, lives about 80 years and feeds mainly on aquatic plants and invertebrates, has indeed special preference to jellyfish.

They live at sea but have lungs, often coming out on the sea surface to breathe and walking on the shores to find a place to lay their eggs. There they complete the biological cycle of the spawning, hatching, and the entrance back to the sea.

The breeding season begins in early spring sea. Then every nesting season the female lays three to four times during the evening hours. They prefer sandy beaches with gentle slopes without barriers, where the sand has the appropriate characteristics, with temperature and humidity being essential elements to the incubation.

After finding the place the turtle makes the right nests with its rear flippers. This is a hole 60 cm in which it lays about 120 white, small and round eggs. They look like ping pong balls and are surrounded by a liquid antiseptic substance that protects them. The incubation lasts for about two months. During the summer months of July and August around 70% of the eggs will hatch.

The babies are black, five centimeters in length and weigh seventeen grams. Once hatched, they rise together to the surface of the sand and head towards the sea. They make their way out usually during the night or early dawn and gear toward the bright horizon.

This first trip of the baby turtles is the most important of their lives because it helps the hatchlings to orient themselves and to be able to return to the same place some decades later to nest and reproduce. The chicks have to face many natural predators such as crabs, seagulls and fish. The mortality is extremely high – estimated that in every thousand hatchlings survives and grows only one!

The sea turtle Caretta caretta is listed in the International Red Book as endangered species. Among the main threats to the degradation and destruction of breeding habitat is the use of gear, the existence of garbage and plastic bags.

Greece and especially Zakynthos hosts some of the most important beaches for reproduction of Caretta caretta in the Mediterranean.Touristic development near nesting beaches,bright lights and noise,human recreational activities at sea are a  factor that negatively affects breeding areas and beaches of laying.ARCHELON environmental nonprofit organization, conducts every summer in the Kyparissia program on reproductive activities of sea turtles in the southern Gulf, which is the core habitat .

The Gulf of Kyparissia hosts an average of 630 nests per year, of which 85% (about 530 nests) are 10 km in the southern Gulf. The breeding season begins in late May and lasts until October. During this period, with the participation of volunteers from around the world, ARCHELON conducts the following activities:

Morning observation during which recording daily reproductive activity Night observation and marking turtles

Protection of nests from human activities and predation by mammals (foxes, dogs, etc.) Informing the public with seasonal Stations Media, by organizing information on projected slides into tourist accommodations, and information campaigns on the beach to alert bathers. In the southern Gulf, particularly in the locality Agiannaki, ARCHELON founded and operated an Environmental Science Station. Station tours are organized for student groups and other visitors. Particular emphasis is given to groups of children through special programs of environmental education.

In our hotel we hold weekly seminars by volunteers of Archelon to our guests and we are proud of it!