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Carretta carretta sea turtle has left its eggs on a beach near Athens

15 August 2012 / 19:08:33  GRReporter
4691 reads

Anastasia Balezdrova

A sea turtle of the protected species Carretta caretta chose one of the busiest beaches in Athens to lay its eggs.

"The turtle came ashore in the first few hours after midnight on 29 July. It began digging a ditch. It laid the first eggs and covered them with sand. Then it laid a second row of eggs and continued in the same order. The whole thing lasted a little longer than an hour," Mr. Costas told GRReporter. He is the owner of the restaurant that serves the specific part of the beach in Artemis.

Then he and the waiter Christos helped the turtle to go back into the sea. "It hissed menacingly at first, but then it realized that we wanted to help and allowed us to do it."

Sea turtles of this species lay about 120 eggs in sand. Each egg has the size of a table tennis ball. The turtles cover them with sand and leave them. The eggs hatch after about 60 days and the baby turtles go to the sea, which is the brightest place at night. From there, sea currents take them out into the open sea. They live there between 20 and 30 years until they grow old enough to reproduce.

Carretta carretta sea turtles are threatened with extinction. There is a special centre in Greece that deals with their protection. They live in the Mediterranean Sea and often lay their eggs along the Ionian Sea, especially in the area around the islands of Zakynthos and Crete and the Peloponnese.

It is not known how the specific turtle got to the beach of Artemis, but scientists argue that the baby turtles that will hatch will come back to lay their eggs here one day.

The emergence of the new visitor put all departments in the region in action. A fence has been immediately erected around the place where the turtle laid its eggs and port authorities in Rafina have put up warning signs. Members of the volunteer group, dealing with catastrophes in Artemis, guard the place every day. The owner of the restaurant has put reed on the place to protect the eggs from predators. And they are not few in number. A dog managed to dig up and eat two eggs on the first day, before the fence was erected around them.

When the baby turtles hatch they are alone and facing many dangers. If there are nightclubs in the area, the lights may confuse them and they may set off towards them and die of exhaustion and dehydration. According to people dealing with their protection, only one out of two baby turtles that manage to reach the sea, will be able to reach adulthood. Because they are babies, they are easy prey for larger fish and seabirds. The more they grow up the more dangers reduce and the only animals that threaten them when their hard shell is formed are very large fish such as sharks.

For the time being, however, the offspring of the sea turtle in Artemis is safely hidden in the sand and enjoys the great interest of the people at the beach.


Tags: NewsCarretta carretta sea turtleBeachArtemisEggsProtected species
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