Loggerhead Turtle Nesting
On Turtle Island
by Lesley Pinkett
On a recent trip to the island of Zakynthos (or Zante as the English
sometimes call it) we went on a boat trip around Laganas Bay where there is a loggerhead turtle nesting site. The trip started from Laganas and the boat took us across the bay to Turtle Island
In the Mediterranean, Loggerheads mate from late March to early June. The loggerhead turtle nesting season is at its peak in June and July, but this depends on the nesting beach. The clutch may vary from 100 to 126 eggs
. Each egg is about the size and shape of a ping-pong ball. The average interval between nesting seasons is two to three years.The beach has to be exactly the right length.
If it were too long the baby turtles would be exhausted before they reached the sea. If it’s too short then the baby turtles die because they do not have to struggle to reach the sea. Newly hatched turtles need the journey from their nest to the sea in order to build up their strength for the journey ahead, so interfering by helping it to the water will reduce their chances of survival.Once they get into the sea the males stay there for the rest of their lives.
Only the females come back to land to lay their eggs.The female turtles return to the same beach where they hatched to lay their eggs.
These are soft sandy beaches, where there is little light. After about 60 days the hatchlings emerge, usually at night when protection from predators is greater. They follow the brightest light to the sea’s edge. On Turtle Island no one is allowed to have a light near the beach so that the turtles can find their way to the sea.
The nesting beach is protected and no one is allowed on or near it between May and September. There are two volunteers who live in a hut near the beach and patrol the beach looking for nests.
Once they find a nest they uncover it and the eggs carefully counted, if the nest is dangerously located the eggs will be moved to a better spot. The nests are checked daily for disturbances, several days after there is indication that the eggs have hatched the nest will be uncovered and the tally of hatched eggs, undeveloped eggs, and dead hatchlings will be recorded. Only three in every thousand baby turtles survive long enough reach sexual maturity.
©2008 Lesley Pinkett. Used by permission.Aunty Lesley found out what the loggerhead turtle is called in Greece
Keep it slow and steady.