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The Sea Turtle Caretta-Caretta

The loggerhead sea turtle Caretta-caretta, the unique member of the species caretta, is one of the most well known attractions of the island. The characteristic feature of this kind of sea turtle is the big head and jaws. The adult animals reach 1,20 m. at length and may weigh more than 100 kilograms. They are fed on fish, shellfishes and mollusks. They mate in places with abundant food and return to their birthplace to leave their eggs. The period of mating is between May and June and deposit of the eggs takes place between June and August. Usually a female turtle produce some 100-125 eggs. The process is repeated every two or three years. In normal cases a turtle lives more than 30 years, but some of them may reach the age of 50 years.

The species is under protection as it risks to extinct; it is found mainly at Zakynthos and Cefallonia. The sandy beaches of Laganas Bay are the places where the sea turtle delivers its eggs during the night, from June until August.

The mother makes a nest of a depth of 40-60 cm within the sand, where it leaves some 100 eggs, well covered and protected. The rest is nature’s task: two months after, with the help of the warm sun, the eggs are incubated and the baby turtles, led by their instinct, run directly to the sea. Those surviving will return after 20 or 30 years to repeat the process, so that the chain continues.
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800 to 1800 nests are made every year at the driest parts of the 6 beaches of Laganas Bay, at a length of some 4 kilometers.

Human presence, noise and lights disturb the turtles and may cause problems to the process. For this reason in all 6 beaches, human activity is absolutely restricted: access to the bay and staying at the beach after sunset is strictly forbidden. Navigation in the bay and the broader area is also restricted or forbidden.

This is more than necessary since the number of the animals had been dramatically reduced (maybe less than 800 mothers came to the beaches) and the species was in danger to extinct.

If you wish to see this lovely animal from close distance you may catch the boats to Marathonissi (also called “the turtle’s island”, because of its shape). The ferrymen will reach them very gently and you will have the chance to see them. And, if you are an expert swimmer, you may reach them swimming in the open sea at the beach of Gerakas. If you decide to do this, the best hours are in late morning, when water is still cool. Turtles are very friendly and don’t fear man at all, so, it is not very difficult to come very close to them and enjoy the unforgettable experience to meet a wild animal face to face.

Facing the necessity to protect this rare species, the Greek State, along with the local authorities of the island, have established the Marine Park of Zakynthos, whose extent covers the whole southern coastal zone of the island. The seat of the Marine Park is at Argassi.

The foundation for the protection of the sea turtle (Archelon) offers the opportunity to the friends of the animal the opportunity to “adopt” a turtle, or a nest, or a baby. For more information contact email : .

The basic rules you should respect when at the beaches of the sea turtle are the following:

1.It is not allowed to stay at the beach after sunset.

2. Digging the sand is absolutely forbidden, especially at the areas far from the sea.

3. Umbrellas that should be fixed in the sand are not allowed.

4. No vehicles are allowed at the beach.

5. If you have a pet (cat or dog) do not allow it to dig in the sand.
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