Argostoli Field Station
As we get closer to the end of October, the hatching season is quickly drawing to a close and we look forward to welcoming our final group of volunteers. We now have only two nests remaining on Megali Ammos beach, neither of which have begun hatching just yet; although, we are excited to see when they do begin to hatch and hope that we can help many more hatchlings safely make it to sea. This does mean that our Hatchling Rescue shifts have been fairly quiet, but our amazing volunteers have continued to show positivity and determination on every shift!
Despite hatching beginning to slow down, over the last couple of weeks, we have had some very successful inventories which our volunteer group have loved being able to see. Due to storms a few weeks back, hatchling rescue shifts could not go ahead, and rain washed over the sand making it difficult to know if nests had begun hatching. As our volunteers couldn’t be out at the beach overnight, the hotel on Megali Ammos agreed to turn off their lights during this time to ensure any hatchlings that may have hatched weren’t disorientated by these lights. After a few windy and rainy days, all of these nests had hatched well and every one of them had hatchlings released to make it safely to sea.
As hatching season begins to draw to a close, our harbour shifts pick up as we increase our tagging events. Tagging our sea turtles allows us to monitor the movements of turtles and be able to identify one turtle from another. Additionally, tagging also allows us to understand the population dynamics of our loggerhead sea turtles better. We have had four tagging shifts over the last couple of weeks which our core team and volunteers have been able to get involved with. We have been able to say hello to some of our regulars including Barb, Ameilie, Joey, Delta and many more with the addition of removing hooks and fishing line from two different turtles that are now back to full health!
On our tagging shifts, we aim to catch any turtles that are untagged to increase the amount of individuals we are able to identify. Some of these may be regulars in Argostoli Harbour but some may turn out to be turtles that come and go throughout the year. As well as tagging, we take measurements of these turtles to monitor how much they grow year to year. Some of the measurements we take include straight carapace length, curved carapace length, curved width and many more. We intend to increase tagging events for the last remaining few weeks of the season. So, we are very excited to see if we can find any more untagged turtles and see how many more of our regular turtles we see too.
Earlier on this week, we also received a call from a concerned tourist that one of our sea turtles - named Grover - had been seen earlier on that day with a net attached to him. Our team and volunteers rushed down to the harbour in the hope we could get him out of the water and remove it. Unfortunately, due to it being early evening, the light of the day was reducing. This made it very difficult to spot many turtles as the visibility of the harbour was very limited. However, we did manage to find him the next day and our core team checked for the net and if he had any injuries. Luckily, the net had fallen off and Grover is all well.
We have continued our paddleboard beach cleans shifts over the last few weeks, which has given our volunteers the chance to experience the crystal blue waters off White Rocks Beach, as well as cleaning this beautiful secluded beach. As previously mentioned, this beach is only accessible by sea rather than land and therefore, rubbish and harmful plastics can accumulate and impact the beach and wildlife that inhabits it. It is great that we have the opportunity to use the paddleboards to reach this beach and remove these harmful plastics.
As usual, we have been taking part in a host of activities and enjoyed every one. We have had a new quiz night, been out for lunch as a team and had a movie night later on in the week. Our volunteer group have also really enjoyed the weather recently and have done a sunset swim on the beach. There is no better way to wrap up a fun and busy day at the project. As well as all of our exciting activities, this group of volunteers also got to enjoy having a day off together on a boat trip with the core team too! It was an exciting and fun day and great to have the chance to all be off together at the same time.
Written by Emma Hawkes and Claire Roche