During the lockdowns of 2020, loggerhead sea turtles (Caretta caretta) in the Bay of Laganas on the Ionian island of Zakynthos moved to shallower and warmer waters which were beneficial for their eggs, according to a recent study published in a scientific journal.
The turtles took advantage of the unprecedented tranquility due to the absence of mass tourism and speedboats to approach the beach. “The 2020 data set demonstrated that increased tourism pressure, not temperature, is driving turtles to more remote areas. In particular, more than 50% of the turtles remained within 100 meters of the coast [in 2020],” Kostas Katselidis, biologist, environmentalist and official at the National Marine Park of Zakynthos, told Kathimerini.
“2020 was a good year for the breeding of the Caretta caretta. The picture for 2021 is also interesting, as tourism was greatly reduced. The trends were similar, although we still haven’t finished processing the data,” he said, adding that the water temperature in the shallows of Laganas Bay is up to 3-5 degrees Celsius higher than the environment, which can have a positive impact on the eggs.
The study also recommends the creation of a coastal refuge zone between May and June when tourist pressure is minimal but turtles begin to gather.