Sea Turtles and Sustainability: ARCHELON’s Vision for Laconia’s Coastal Ecosystems

Since 1983, ARCHELON, the Sea Turtle Protection Society of Greece, has been at the forefront of protecting sea turtles and their habitats in Greece. With a dedicated approach encompassing monitoring, research, management plans, habitat restoration, public awareness campaigns, and turtle rehabilitation, ARCHELON plays a vital role in conserving these magnificent creatures.

A Mission to Protect:

At the heart of ARCHELON’s mission is the protection and preservation of sea turtles and their environments. This involves focusing on key locations where loggerhead turtles nest, including Zakynthos, the Bays of Kyparissia and Lakonikos, and Crete. In the Peloponnese region, the Gulf of Kiparissia, Koroni, and Lakonikos are particularly important areas of focus.

Lakonikos Gulf: A Vital Nesting Area:

The Gulf of Lakonikos, located in the South Peloponnese, is an important breeding site for the loggerhead sea turtle, also known as Caretta-Caretta. This area’s Delta of the Evrotas River is vital for various bird species to rest, feed, and breed. The sandy area of the region is a haven for endangered species like the sea lily (Pancratium maritimum).

A Rich Maritime Ecosystem:

The Lakonikos Gulf is home to vast areas of Posidonia, a type of seagrass that provides crucial habitats for various organisms, including commercially valuable fish. Additionally, it has been recognized as a breeding ground for young Green Turtles (Chelonia mydas).

Harmonious Collaboration with Fishermen:

ARCHELON started a sustainable fishing program in 1989 in the Gytheio region, working with local fishermen in the Lakonikos Gulf. This led to ARCHELON’s expansion into the sea and cooperation with fishermen in other areas.

Sustainable Management:

Part of the Gulf of Lakonikos is included in the European network called “NATURA 2000,” specifically recognized as “EVROTAS DELTA” (GR 2540003). In partnership with ARCHELON, an environmental study and a Management Plan for the coastal zone were established under the LIFE-Nature community program. The aim is to ensure the sustainable management and protection of the natural environment while encouraging community participation.

Nesting Havens:

The Lakonikos Gulf beaches, which cover a distance of 23 kilometres, witness approximately 200 sea turtle nests each year. Since 2006, ARCHELON has focused on Mavrovouni Beach, a 5-kilometer section that serves as a benchmark for the entire region. The organization carefully oversees the reproductive activity, ensuring the secure hatching of nests. Educational slide shows are also presented in nearby hotels and camping sites to raise awareness about the importance of sea turtle conservation.

The work done by ARCHELON to protect sea turtles and their habitats is a prime example of the organization’s dedication to preserving the delicate balance of Laconia’s coastal ecosystems. Their efforts not only protect these magnificent creatures but also contribute to the sustainable future of the region’s natural beauty.