As our hatching season comes to an end, we have begun to analyse the success of our efforts during the summer in Skala. The Skala area includes two beaches which are approximately 3km in total length – Skala beach and Spithi beach. Despite Skala being much longer, there were much fewer sea turtle emergences although a much higher percentage of these emergences led to nests compared to the shorter Spithi beach. The total number of emergences in the Skala area between 6th June 2015 and 25th August 2015 was 100 emergences, of which 68 were on Spithi and only 32 were on Skala. These emergences resulted in the protection of 17 nests. The percentage of emergences which led to nests on Skala was 31% (ten nests) whereas the percentage of emergences which led to nests on Spithi was only 10% (seven nests). There are a number of factors which will influence the likelihood of nesting on each beach including sand grain size, width of beach and light pollution. Whilst Skala beach has considerably more light pollution than Spithi, the beach is much wider which may encourage nesting.
A small number of nests were relocated on each beach to the same beach and one nest was relocated between beaches from Spithi to Skala, amounting to 30% of all nests being relocated. The most common reason for relocation was distance to sea being less than 10m, although nests were also relocated because they were shaded at 12 noon meaning they would not reach incubation temperatures and because the nest was laid within seaweed and shingle reducing the chance of a successful incubation. The average clutch size for each beach varies dramatically when being calculated using current relocation and inventory data. The average clutch size of Spithi beach is currently 66 whereas the average clutch size of Skala is 95, giving an overall average clutch size in the Skala area of 88. This matches the overall average clutch size in Kefalonia in 2014.
The current hatching success of all nests in the Skala area is 83.5%. We still have inventories to conduct on five nests so this may change as more data is collected, although we hope it stays consistently high for the remaining nests.
Written by Jess Betts