Greece hosts 85% of the loggerhead sea turtle breeding population in the EU, and almost 50% of the Mediterranean breeding population.
The loggerhead sea turtle is a globally threatened marine species. The adult females lay their eggs on nesting beaches from where the baby turtles head into the ocean. Little turtles are very sensitive to a wide range of threats – including marine litter, accidental capture and tourism impacts - and usually only about 1-2 turtles out of 1 000 reach adulthood.
Since 1984, the Sea Turtle Protection Society of Greece (ARCHELON) has been systematically recording the nests, quantifying threats and marking adult females in the Natura 2000 site Kyparissia Bay. Since 1992, with support from the EU LIFE programme, the NGO has put in place a systematic protection of nests against trampling, as well as protecting baby turtles from predation by feral dogs and foxes, tide inundation and disorientation caused by lights. Well-organised international volunteer teams assist in this initiative.
Since 2006, the number of nests, and correspondingly of adult females, has shown a significant increase (144%), as has the percentage of turtles that lay eggs for the first time. As the estimated age of sexual maturity of the turtle in the Mediterranean is 14-16 years, this increase in nests can only have been the result of a long-term, systematic conservation effort.
Nowadays, Kyparissia Bay hosts the largest nesting population of the loggerhead sea turtle in the Mediterranean. And because this turtle is migratory, the increase in the population in Kyparissia Bay has a positive effect on the overall population in the Mediterranean region.
In 2015, the IUCN reclassified the species to the “Least Concern” status in this region.