Argostoli Field Station
As one door closes, another one opens - despite having no new nests being laid in the Argostoli area this week, we have seen many more successful nest hatchings and inventories. As the nesting season draws to a close, we are definitely in full swing of the hatching season!
Earlier this week one of our nests that was currently hatching on Avithos beach was found inundated with water, which can threaten the incubation of unhatched eggs. Therefore our team was quick to relocate any unhatched eggs that remained in the nest. Despite the nest being inundated, there were already a staggering 88 hatched eggs and only 5 unhatched eggs were found and relocated.
The first of the protected nests on Minies beach has begun hatching this week with 20 hatchlings going out to sea so far, so we're very excited to hopefully see some more. We have had many public inventories this week, and our volunteers have been excellent at educating the public on why our inventories are so important and how to safely observe hatchlings as they make their journey to the sea. It has been really amazing doing so many inventories on our protected nests to see just how many hatchlings have made it to the sea. Counting hatchling tracks in the morning can sometimes be tricky to get an exact number of how many made it to sea, therefore our inventories give us a more clear picture of how many hatchlings have hatched. These numbers are so important to the vital conservation of this amazing species. One nest on Megali Ammos this week had a 98.1% success rate with 106 out of 108 eggs successfully hatching! This is an incredible number which we were all really excited to see. Our amazing volunteers have helped over 750 hatchlings to get to sea in the last few weeks and we are very proud of all their hard work.
As always, our team of volunteers continue to collect data in the harbour and educate the public on the importance of the loggerhead species and how we can help them. One of our newly tagged turtles this year - named March - was seen for the first time in the harbour since he was tagged in March. In other exciting news, this week we have caught, tagged and attached another tracker to a juvenile male turtle, which we have named Acorn. Attaching a satellite tracker to our harbour turtles helps us to better understand the movements and migratory patterns of the turtles which we see in the harbour! We are looking forward to seeing where Acorn will go next. These transmitters were placed by Wildlife Sense in collaboration with the Aenos National Park Management Body - Εθνικός Δρυμός Αίνου and colleagues at the Department of Biology at the Aristotle University of Thessaloniki. Additionally, we have recently spotted another untagged juvenile turtle who likes to swim alongside the larger resident females. Hopefully, we will get the chance to tag them soon to see if they will stick around in our harbour for longer!
As the second and final week comes to a close for many of our volunteers, we are immensely proud and grateful for all the enthusiasm and effort they have continued to put in every day. As well as their hard work in the field, they have also enjoyed many activities in their spare time - including a scavenger hunt, volleyball and a souvlaki night!
Written by Claire Roche and Emma Hawkes
Lixouri Field Station
Hatching season has officially taken over here in Lixouri, with our last nest being discovered on the 7th of August, and not having recorded another nest, nor emergence since. As sad as we are to say goodbye to our nesting females from this season, we are beyond excited to continue into hatching season and see all our nests hatch one by one (or five by five if we are going by recent hatching events)!
Our volunteers have continued to awake each morning with enthusiasm for their morning surveys, observing and recording the hatchling tracks, indicating how many hatchlings made their way safely to sea during the night. Although we estimate that nests will begin hatching approximately 45 days after they have been laid, we cannot predict exactly when the hatchlings will make their way out, so we were very excited on Tuesday morning when 5 of our nests experienced their first hatching. With 4 of these nests being located within our hatchery area, the Megas Lakkos morning survey team had their work cut out for them, having to count over 60 overlapping tracks!
On Wednesday our eagle-eyed volunteers spotted four hatchling tracks on Kounoupas, despite there being no current protected nests on this particular beach. Thankfully, they were able to find the point at which these tracks originated, and after performing a deep comb to ensure that no hatchlings were trapped under the surface, placed bamboo and tape to protect the nest. With this being the second nest that has been ‘found by hatching’ so far during hatching season, this brings our total nest count up to 70 nests in the Lixouri area overall this season.
Despite the absence of hatching rescue shifts over the last week, due to there being no current hatching nests on Lepeda, nor Cape Agios Georgos, our evenings have been far from quiet. Inventories have been completed on nests most evenings, and across all three areas (Vatsa, Megas Lakkos and, Lepeda). During this week's inventories, we achieved hatching success rates as high as 91% and discovered interesting eggs such as mini eggs and fused eggs, which of course were not viable but interesting to observe in terms of recording a range of data. A large number of inventories carried out this week has brought our current nest count to only 31 nests, meaning we are over halfway into hatching season and closely approaching the incubation periods of multiple new nests.
Having noticed excess amounts of litter both on our nesting beaches and around the harbour, our volunteers expressed an interest in carrying out cleaning shifts. Since the beginning of last week, volunteers have been taking nets along to their harbour shifts to fish any rubbish out of the water. During evenings where there were no inventories, we conducted a beach clean on our Loggos beaches - filling three bin bags from the first beach alone! Seeing the level of initiative and effort to keep our beaches clean from volunteers makes us incredibly proud and reminds us why we do the work that we do here at Wildlife Sense.
Alongside shifts of patrolling the nesting beaches for hatchling tracks, monitoring the harbour for foraging turtles or sifting the sand for microplastics, our volunteers have also been getting stuck into fun evening activities, including h card games, henna, and quiz night, where they were able to put their turtle knowledge to the test and display how much they have learnt during their time at the project.
As these last two weeks draw to a close and we approach yet another changeover, we would like to take this opportunity to say a humongous thank you to all our volunteers for their sheer hard work, motivated attitudes and a keen interest in the field. All your work is sincerely appreciated, from awaking at sunrise and cycling to our nesting beaches, to sleeping under the moonlight on our nesting beaches to ensure all hatchlings make their way to sea safely and avoid nearby light pollution, every element of the work you do here at the project is equally beneficial to the conservation of our loggerhead sea turtles.
Moving forward into the upcoming weeks, we look forward to seeing our current hatching nests finish hatching, along with many new hatching nests from all over our three survey areas as multiple new nests approach their 45 days of incubation. As every new hatchling makes its way to the sea safely, we shall be sure to keep you all up to date on all our hatching nests. In the meantime, be sure to check out our social media pages: Instagram @wildlifesense, Facebook @WildlifeSense, and TikTok @wildlifesense for any updates or scheduled inventories over the next few weeks!
Written by Mia Holman and Kathryn Skazick
Skala Field Station
This week we have presented to the Greek National Park of Ainos our results and data collected over the summer. It was a great opportunity to have an overview of our data and to highlight all the amazing work our teams have done during those past three months!
After the presentation, we went to a turtle nest inventory with the Wildlife Sense Argostóli team. A very friendly moment with them and the baby turtles.
Back to the field, we have now started a new kind of survey on Mounda Beach: sand sifting. This survey consists of taking out of the beach all the little pieces of plastic and especially microplastic. We also had a special carbonara night, thanks to our Italian volunteer. A perfect way to strengthen the bonds between each other and to share a sweet moment!
Written by Chloé Papin