Early July 2019 Turtle Nesting News from Wildlife Sense Kefalonia

Lixouri Field Station

This week Team Lixouri have recorded multiple nests across our survey areas and have surpassed our 2017 nest count. We were particularly excited to find our first nest on Agios Georgios after a series of non-attempts. Alongside these nests we have seen numerous abandoned egg chambers and unsuccessful nesting attempts – one particularly eventful day saw 25 emergences across our beaches! 

Two emergency relocations have occurred this week. On Megas Lakkos, a moisture check undertaken before night survey revealed that the eggs were at risk of drowning. The clutch was immediately relocated to a safe area at the back of the beach. On Kounoupetra the morning survey team located a nest where the top egg was just 8 cm below surface level. The shallow nature of this nest meant that the eggs had to be moved as quickly as possible to ensure that they did not get too hot. The eggs were also spread around the nest rather than being contained within one egg chamber. This arrangement suggests that the nesting female may have been injured. Thankfully both nests were relocated quickly and the chances of viability have increased massively. 

This surge in nesting attempts has led to some incredibly busy night surveys. Sarah achieved a new Lixouri record of three turtles on two consecutive nights and we have now tagged 14 new turtles this season. Nightly patrols of Megas Lakkos have allowed us to respond to a series of turtles with injuries and abnormalities. This week we saw two nesting females with propeller strike injuries. After assessing the injuries, removing barnacles and tube worms, and taking numerous photos, the turtles were both deemed safe for release back to sea. We were also finally able to tag and health check a female with a missing rear flipper who has emerged on several occasions. Additionally, this week saw the return of Whiskey, a female who first nested in 2016 – it is fantastic to witness the return of our nesting females and track their progress over the years. 

Unfortunately, two volunteers discovered a dead turtle whilst on morning survey in the Lepeda area. Washed up on Kounoupas, the turtle was a nesting female. Upon assessment, the cause of death was linked to drowning due to fishing activity. 

After saying a very sad goodbye to our second group of volunteers Lixouri have been joined by our largest group of volunteers to date! Training is well underway and everybody is excited to find more nests and nesting females!

Argostoli Field Station

This week saw some very busy morning surveys for the Argostoli team and our nest count is now rapidly approaching 50! Megali Ammos currently boasts 17 protected nests, the majority of which have been relocated to a ‘hatchery’ area on a wide section of the beach where they should remain more sheltered from potential inundation during stormy weather. One such nest on this beach was laid by a female missing a rear flipper. This type of injury results in very distinctive tracks made as the turtle crawls along the sand and also means that she struggles to dig the typical cylindrical egg chamber we tend to see from most nesting females. The nest this female laid on this occasion was extremely shallow and the eggs were relocated immediately to avoid overheating. Unfortunately, due to her inability to dig deeper into the sand, she ended up squashing the top few eggs in the clutch as she covered them and made her way back to sea.

Alongside finding and protecting nests on our close by nesting beaches, the Argostoli team have also been helping over on 2 sites in Lourdas – Stella vineyard and Kanali. On 4th July, a protected area was dug on Kanali and eggs found and protected. This provided a great experience for some of our new volunteers to get hands-on and to see their first nest.

We are really happy to have welcomed another big group of volunteers and are loving the enthusiasm they have shown towards training and their first few shifts this week so far.


Source – wildlifesense.com

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