A hopeful comeback for endangered sea turtles and seals in Greece
Long term protection pays off in Greece and this year marked a preservation status improvement of the Caretta Caretta Sea Turtle and the Mediterranean Monk Seal in the global Red List of Threatened Species of the International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN).
The nesting season of marine turtles has already started in the Mediterranean and the world’s largest hard-shelled turtle, the endangered loggerhead, also known as the Caretta caretta, is enjoying a new lease on life in Greece’s shores, which are among the most popular nesting sites along the Mediterranean, with more than 3,000 nests per year.
More than 500 nests were already identified on the Ionian island of Zakynthos, the largest nesting ground in the Mediterranean, during an survey carried out early last month by the Sea Turtle Protection Society of Greece (Archelon) on the beaches of the National Marine Park of Zakynthos, making 2016 one of the best years in a decade. A following survey by Archelon found that the number of nests in Southern Kyparissiakos Bay in the western Peloponnese, the second largest nesting area in the Mediterranean, already surpassed the 1.000 mark for 2016.
The new listing of Caretta caretta in the Mediterranean actually reflects the success of all the important conservation actions that take place all these years in Greece, which must continue on by international and local groups. As Archelon puts it “all loggerhead subpopulations are still in need of intensive conservation measures to improve or to maintain their current conservation status”. “Apart from the good feelings this news has been to all of us concerning the survival of the protected sea turtle Caretta caretta, it also creates the need for more attention on the part of visitors vacationing on nesting beaches and of professionals working in these areas,” said the National Marine Park of Zakynthos in a statement.
Mediterranean Monk Seal (Monachus monachus)
After 25 years of systematic efforts to preserve the species, the first results are now starting to show and the IUCN preservation status for the Mediterranean monk seal dropped down one category in the endangered species list, from “critically endangered” to “endangered”, according to a Hellenic Society for the Study & Protection of the Monk Seal (MOm) announcement last February.
Mediterranean monk seals are considered one of the world’s most threatened marine mammals. Once widespread throughout the Mediterranean, the Black Sea and the northern coast of Africa, their numbers have declined dramatically for most of the twentieth century. This is due to major threats from adverse fishing interactions, often leading to conflict over fish stocks, displacement, entanglement in fishing nets and persecution, as well as human invasion of habitat leading to habitat loss and deterioration. The number of mature individuals in the eastern Mediterranean (the largest subpopulation) is likely fewer than 250, and 100-200 occurring in the other known subpopulations.
Source: Greek News Agenda [August 03, 2016]