Argostoli Field Station
We’ve been very busy this last week with 12 new nests, bringing our total up to 26. Avithos is currently boasting the most nests, with a total of 6. So far this year all but 3 of the nests have needed to be relocated, including an emergency relocation on Megali Petra. This was due to the morning survey team finding the nest underwater. During these relocations, we have discovered a wide range of clutch sizes, with the smallest clutch having 5 eggs and the largest having 152.
On a sadder note, this week we were notified of a dead, untagged turtle found near Argostoli marina. We believe from the examination that the turtle drowned and was washed up. This is a very tragic event which unfortunately is becoming all too common, with most of these deaths resulting from turtles becoming entangled in nets and being unable to come to the surface to breathe. Events such as this highlight why it’s so important to have programmes that help educate others about sustainable changes that can be made to protect and conserve the turtles.
This week, we held a tagging event during which we were able to pull out and health check 5 turtles from the Argostoli harbour. Unfortunately, one of these turtles had severe lacerations in her front left flipper, caused by entanglement in fishing line and net. We were able to cut the flipper free from this material and the turtle was taken to the rescue centre in Athens as soon as possible – hopefully, this flipper can be saved!
During the course of this year, over 60 individuals have been tagged, bringing our total number of tagged turtles up to 235. We’re excited to share that our previous injured turtle, Quinn, has officially re-joined these turtles out in the ocean, after her successful release on Friday 21st. She kept us all waiting as she took 30 minutes to make her way down the beach, but having seen her swim away we hope she will now be able to live a healthy and happy life with all her wounds now healing well.
This week we also celebrated the birthday of Holly, one of our Argostoli field leaders. She was surprised with two delicious cakes and an adorable water bottle – which of course was turtle themed. Also on this night, we all got involved in using henna to draw a variety of marine creatures and cartoon characters, some more artistic than others. We also organised a scavenger hunt in which our volunteers fought in their teams to be the first to complete a series of challenges to win a free pedalo ride – congratulations to our lucky winners! As the week draws to a close, we would like to thank this group of volunteers for their hard work and are excited to see what the next group will bring!
Written By Ailsa Lindsay and Sophie Teall
Lixouri Field Station
This week has seen some particularly eventful night surveys in Lixouri. The team was able to respond to a turtle who had fallen over two meters after ascending a steep slope during a nesting attempt. Thankfully no major injuries were present and the team was able to take measurements and check for any other abnormalities or parasites. This particular female had been tagged on a night survey earlier on in the season and has successfully nested once. Loggerheads are able to lay approximately 3-6 nests per season. Therefore, despite the accident, it is likely that this turtle will emerge on Megas Lakkos in the near future as she attempts to nest again. In addition to this, 5 new nesting females have been tagged in this week's run of surveys - it is fantastic to see so many new and returning females on Megas Lakkos.
Lixouri's nest count has risen to 23. We recorded our first two nests on Vatsa and saw further clutches laid on Lepeda, Megas Lakkos, Kounoupetra, and the Cape. Numerous relocations have occurred across these beaches; two on Megas Lakkos unearthed a series of particularly interesting discoveries. ML6 consisted of only 9 eggs. Of this total, 'mini' eggs and oval-shaped eggs were found. ML7 was another small clutch with only 50 eggs. Oval shaped eggs can still be viable however significantly undersized eggs cannot produce viable embryos. As both of these abnormal clutches were laid on the same beach on the same night it was concluded that they were from the same nesting female. Consequently, these individual nests were relocated into the same egg chamber.
A key part of Morning Survey shifts is the identification and recording of turtle tracks. These tracks are indicative of nesting activity and also provide useful insights into the nature of the beach and the sea turtle. This was particularly evident with a set of tracks recorded on Xi that was made by a turtle missing a rear flipper. These tracks visibly differed from the tracks we witness on a daily basis. They also matched those produced by a night survey turtle (named Peggy) with similar injuries. This turtle did not nest on this particular occasion but we look forward to seeing her make further attempts in the future.
Lixouri's Harbour does not attract sea turtles in the same capacity as Argostoli. Despite this, we have increasingly been spotting turtles in Lixouri's Harbour. Mid-morning and early evening have proven to be the most successful times for turtle spotting. Hopefully, as we start to understand the patterns of these turtles, we will be able to tag them.