A Hopeful Comeback For Endangered Sea Turtles & Seals In Greece

  • by XpatAthens
  • Tuesday, 26 July 2016
A Hopeful Comeback For Endangered Sea Turtles & Seals In Greece
Long term protection has paid off in Greece after this year marked a preservation status improvement of the Caretta Caretta Sea Turtle and the Mediterranean Monk Seal in the global Red List of Threatened Species of the International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN)!

About the Caretta Caretta Sea Turtle

The nesting season of marine turtles has already started in the Mediterranean and the world’s largest hard-shelled turtle, the endangered loggerhead, also known as the Caretta caretta, is enjoying a new lease on life in Greece’s shores, which are among the most popular nesting sites along the Mediterranean, with more than 3,000 nests per year.

More than 500 nests were already identified on the Ionian island of Zakynthos, the largest nesting ground in the Mediterranean, during a survey carried out early last month by the Sea Turtle Protection Society of Greece (Archelon) on the beaches of the National Marine Park of Zakynthos, making 2016 one of the best years in a decade. A following survey by Archelon found that the number of nests in Southern Kyparissiakos Bay in the western Peloponnese, the second largest nesting area in the Mediterranean, already surpassed the 1,000 mark for 2016.

Caretta caretta recently changed its category in the IUCN’s Red List of threatened species, from ‘endangered’ which had been assigned since 1996, to ‘vulnerable.’ In addition, its Mediterranean population is now listed as ‘least concern.’ This new status means that the species is not in danger of extinction in the near future on the condition that their current status remains the same.

The new listing of Caretta caretta in the Mediterranean actually reflects the success of all the important conservation actions that take place all these years in Greece, which must continue on by international and local groups.

About the Mediterranean Monk Seal (Monachus monachus)

After 25 years of systematic efforts to preserve the species, the first results are now starting to show and the IUCN preservation status for the Mediterranean monk seal dropped down one category in the endangered species list, from ‘critically endangered’ to ‘endangered’, according to a Hellenic Society for the Study & Protection of the Monk Seal (MOm) announcement earlier this year.

Experts from around the world gathered and evaluated the most recent data and found positive developments in at least three of the four main regions of the monk seal's range, among them Greece.

What seems to be playing a significant role in the betterment of the species’ status is the positive attitude by the majority of the citizens, as a result of information, environmental education, and general awareness. However, the danger of the species’ extinction has not been eliminated as the populations remain small and fragile while most of the main threats for the species remain substantial, such as the habitat degradation and competition with human fishing.

Mediterranean monk seals are considered one of the world’s most threatened marine mammals. Once widespread throughout the Mediterranean, the Black Sea and the northern coast of Africa, their numbers have declined dramatically for most of the twentieth century.

To read this article in full, please visit: Greek News Agenda