Mid-July 2019 Turtle Nesting News from Wildlife Sense Kefalonia

Argostoli Field Station

Our nest count for Argostoli is still on the rise, currently at 81, with 16 newly found and protected within the last 7 days. Megali Ammos, Avithos and Minies boast the greatest number of nests, with new clutches consistently being discovered on these beaches each morning. One particularly interesting morning survey saw 5 separate tracks on Megali Ammos from a nesting female missing a rear left flipper. During her time on the beach, this turtle took a tumble down one of the sand dunes as she searched for a suitable area to lay her clutch. As she made her way along the sand, she also crawled through and destroyed the protected area of an already established nest, dragging some of the protection with her as she made her way back to sea. This female made no nesting attempts on this occasion, so we hope she’ll return soon and possibly nest when she next emerges onto land.

The past few days have been quite eventful for us, with sightings of 2 injured turtles in the harbour and a call to the stranding of a dead turtle in the lagoon area. We are always saddened by the news that a turtle has been found washed up dead, though this was particularly sad for us as we were able to identify this individual as one of our tagged males, named Socrates. No obvious cause of death was deemed upon autopsy, though there were injuries to the rear of the carapace consistent with a propeller strike. Also last week, a dive team out in Lassi reported a male turtle with quite gruesome injuries affecting his skull, one eye and even part of his brain tissue. He was immediately taken to the vet for examination and our team monitored him through the night to ensure he was alive and safe. We were very pleased that he made it through the night and some very dedicated team members then made the long journey with him to the rehabilitation centre in Athens, where he will hopefully now be able to receive treatment and recover. On a lighter note, we are super happy to share that we have seen Quinn, the turtle we re-released a few weeks ago, swimming safely in the harbour and seemingly having made a great recovery from her previous injuries.

We have been battling some stormy weather on the island this week, making for some very interesting morning survey shifts and leading to several emergency relocations here in Argostoli. During the height of the storm on Tuesday night, the team relocated several nests from Avithos onto Minies. Moisture checks on the beach revealed that some eggs were already underwater, whilst others were at very high risk of inundation in their original locations. The team worked into the early hours of Wednesday morning to ensure the safety of these clutches. We would like to say a huge thank you to the willing group of volunteers who gave up their time (and sleep) to help the process run smoothly – As a direct result of their hard work, the chances of the viability of these nests have massively increased.

As some of our earlier nests near the end of their incubation periods, we are preparing for our first hatchling rescue shifts of 2019. We are eager to share with our volunteers the excitement of seeing loggerhead hatchlings for the very first time!

Written by: Sophie Shedden

Lixouri Field Station

This week, Team Lixouri has been battling the elements of the recent stormy weather, with three emergency nest relocations on Kounopetra and three on Megas Lakkos in just one morning. While we do everything we can to protect and monitor the nests, we could not predict the water table rising so high these past few days. We are busy performing moisture checks and taking elevation measurements to help prevent more inundations. This is helped by the fact that Team Lixouri has its largest group of volunteers yet, who will be there to help as we approach a potentially record-breaking nest count.

Not only are our volunteers working hard on the nests, but some lovely tourists have been getting involved too. On Kounopetra, tourists helped to record the removal and emergency relocation of three nests of eggs, which had some of the largest clutches – 108, 121 and 84 eggs in each – fulfilling and surpassing the average of 70 to 100 eggs per nest for the loggerhead sea turtles of Kefalonia. All of these nests were filled with pooling water. We were thankful for the extra hands to get the eggs out and relocated as quickly as possible.

Twenty-three different turtles have nested so far on Lixouri’s beaches, with returnees also wiggling their way back onto our sands, including Mabel, Danielle, Julia and Whisky. Mabel’s nest was far from straight-forward, however, as it was right up against a cliff face, and only three meters from the sea – certainly one that had to be relocated, as it was half-covered in seawater!

And while new nests are still being laid, we are fast approaching the 45-day mark for ML1: hatchlings should be crawling to the sea very soon. Keep an eye out for our news of when the first hatchlings appear very soon!

Written by Helena Quainton

source – reproduced from wildlifesense.com

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