Lourdas Field Station (Mid-July Update)
Yes, the season is now well underway. From our initial catch up and get together we have now separated into our respective areas. Harry being very canny with his practice nests. At the meeting at HQ friendships were rekindled and the Lourdas group welcomed two new members in Mags and Jackie. We were deployed to our beaches of Lourdas, Trapazaki, Kanali Steps and Kanali, under the watchful eye of our leader Lorna.
The season began quietly. It became evident that Lourdas beach, in particular, was not in a good condition for turtle nesting as huge swathes of large boulders, pebbles and small stones were now covering the beach, and this was soon compounded by the extremely large number of sunbeds and umbrellas. However, behind every dark cloud, we have a silver lining, and we were given some information about a previously unattended beach, located just below Stella Vineyard, called Rogagliani beach.
The studios and vineyard are run by Collette and Lefteris. Thanks to both themselves and their guests we are now having a number of emergence reports, and thanks to Marc and Rebekah we now have a line of communication to keep on top of the activity. There are 128 steps from the complex down to the beach, so that means 128 back up. The elderly in the Lourdas group applaud the resilience of our two intrepid volunteers. We have an identified nest here and it was nice to see Annya and the Wildlife Sense volunteers assist Marc and Rebekah in the dig. As the days went by more emergence sightings were made with identified nests now appearing on Trapazaki and Kanali.
We must also thank our own “Jolly Roger” and that is our one and only Mick Kinsey who has looked at Sissia beach for any evidence of nesting but despite the odd tracks, no nest has been found. Finally, what can be said about our member David Green who for the second time came across a turtle nesting during his patrol in the very early morning? Anyway, to date the Lourdas group are now up to 12 nests after a slow start.
Argostoli Field Station
We currently have a record-breaking 97 nests in Argostoli, the highest number ever to be recorded within one season in the area. This is really exciting for us and we are still finding new tracks and nests on our beaches each morning. Some of our teams this week carrying out overnight light pollution surveys have been lucky enough to witness female turtles emerging onto the beach to lay their eggs.
We were able to tag and measure these turtles on the beach once they had finished their nesting process and watch in awe as they travelled back to the sea. This was an incredible experience for the whole team involved and was the first time many of them had seen a nesting female in action.
At a recent tagging event in the harbour, we microchipped and tagged several untagged turtles. During this event, we were able to catch and perform an updated health check on one of our turtles that was first tagged in 2017. One of the other individuals we examined, though, is missing the majority of his front right flipper due to an old wound from entanglement in fishing line. At this time, we are still trying to determine the best way to treat this injury to ensure the turtle is safe and free of pain as much as possible.
We recently began our first hatchling rescue shifts of the season and with Lixouri already having their first hatchlings of the season, we are hoping to follow closely behind!
Lixouri Field Station
The Lixouri Team have some of their biggest (and cutest) news yet: hatchlings are upon us! On Monday, the first nest laid on Megas Lakkos was showing signs of dipping, and by Tuesday night, the first hatchlings had emerged. On Wednesday, more little scamper marks were left in the sand, as another load of hatchlings from ML1 headed for the sea. Meanwhile, two nesting turtles had also come upon the sands at the same time as each other - a very busy night in Lixouri! More nests are dipping and set to reach their 50 days mark any time now, so more hatchling news from Team Lixouri is still to come.
This week, Team Lixouri also ventured over to Argostoli territory, to help out with their tagging event. With Harry diving gracefully into the harbour, both teams managed to health check and tag four turtles, including one of the smallest we have ever seen (and still very strong!) These events not only allow us to keep the turtles healthy, but also teach the public who come to watch, about Wildlife Sense, what we aim to do, and how they too can help protect the turtles of Kefalonia.
This week also marks the end of Night Surveys, as the switch over between turtles laying and baby turtles hatching is well underway. Hatchling Rescue shifts have just begun, where we sleep by the nests at night, checking every hour to see if baby turtles have come up from out of their sandy nest. From there, we make sure that they all make it safely to sea - travelling the 12 meters, or more, for their imprinting - and swim off into the sea, ready for their new life underwater. And, we are also about to welcome two new FA’s, who are ready and raring to see some baby turtles just as much as we are.
The sad news of this week is that we are saying goodbye to our 8-week volunteer Colin. He has been a great help with all things turtle, from track-spotting and nest digging (especially those moisture checks), to the more behind-the-scenes jobs, like making sure the bikes work so we can get to our beaches as quickly as possible. Hope to see you soon Colin!
Written by Helena Quainton