Thursday, 10 January 2013

Glimmer of hope for Greece’s Loggerhead turtles

Turtle rescue centre ready for action

A new £250,000 rescue centre for injured sea turtles, funded by donations from UK aquarium visitors, was completed over Christmas on the Greek island of Zakynthos. Sea Life Centres across the UK have been fundraising for the centre for the last six years.

The Ionian island of Zakynthos, a popular destination for British holidaymakers, hosts the biggest concentration of Loggerhead sea turtle nests in the Mediterranean, as many as 2,000 in peak summers.

Just 811 nests in 2012
"The tourism boom has had a devastating effect on the nesting beaches and numbers are in decline. Only 811 nests were recorded in 2012, one of the lowest ever tallies, and only 500 nests actually hatched any eggs, mainly because of bad weather, but a few were also damaged by humans." said Sea Life's head marine biologist Rob Hicks.

"Every adult loggerhead of breeding age is becoming more and more vital to the long-term survival prospects of Mediterranean loggerheads. Until now though, any adult turtle injured by fishing gear or pleasure craft has had to travel to Athens for treatment and care, a journey of more than eight hours," Rob added.

Sea Life's re-homing of a brain-damaged loggerhead turtle Antiopi from Athens to Scarborough Sea Life Centre more than six years ago was the catalyst for the rescue centre project. Antiopi, whose head injury could have been caused by a boat propeller or a fisherman's gaffe hook, has become a symbol of hope for her species, one of seven endangered sea turtle species worldwide.

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