The loggerhead sea turtles (Caretta caretta) living around the Lion and in Ditikos
The so-called loggerhead turtle (Caretta caretta) lives in various places all over the world. However, loggerheads lay their eggs primarily in places that have warm climates. Loggerheads are the most common type of sea turtle in Greece and in the entire Mediterranean Sea. The size and weight of an adult Caretta varies greatly. A full grown one can be up to 120 cm long and weigh up to 220 kg.
Loggerhead females generally only mate every two to three years and the mating season usually begins in spring. From mid-May to mid-August, the Caretta Caretta female then lays her eggs, a process she might repeat up to three times.
After hatching, male loggerheads spend their entire lifetimes in the water, whilst the females come ashore only for the purpose of laying their eggs. It can be that a female loggerhead will travel many, many kilometers to return again to the so-called nesting beach (where she in all likelihood was born herself).For that the female crawls slowly ashore at night and uses her fins to dig a deep pit into which she then lays between 50 and 100 eggs. The eggs are soft-shelled and about 40 millimeters in size. After she’s finished laying, the loggerhead female seals the pit with sand and returns to the sea.
After about 50 to 80 days, approximately 75 baby loggerheads known as hatchlings emerge from their surrounding egg shells and crawl out of their sandy nest. Then under cover of night, the hatchlings start making their dangerous journey to the sea. Only a few of them will make it there alive and not fall prey along the way to natural enemies like cats, dogs or raptors (birds of prey). However, the greatest danger loggerheads face is unfortunately, from human beings, who among other things - disturb nests, or interfere in some way with the hatchlings’ already difficult journey to the relative safety of the sea. Especially the ever increasing rate of tourism in the Mediterranean is a great threat. The loggerhead turtle is an extremely endangered species and meanwhile, there are strict regulations designed to protect these creatures.
Their nesting time and main tourist season are at the same time of year. So, please, take special care and be considerate of this endangered species and do not disturb them. Particularly, their nesting beaches must not be disturbed at night. This means: Do not make noise, turn on lights, or make camp fires on nesting beaches.
Numerous environmental protection organizations, such as Greenpeace and the WWF are actively trying to help rescue loggerhead turtles and ensure that this amazing creature survives and can flourish. On Crete’s southern coast, there are several nesting beaches, including some near Lentas near the Lion. Loggerheads who use them will distribute their nests around the beach – beyond where waves can reach them. The females also bury their eggs quite deeply – so nests are not always easy to spot. Often locals and tourists will mark nests that have been identified so that everyone knows to leave the nests in peace. Please be aware, take care, and help do what you can to protect them.
Please note: The nests must not be touched. Please try to avoid nesting areas at all and if you do happen to be on a nesting beach, keep a wide distance from the nests by, for example, staying as close to the sea as possible. Further: Please do not use any light near nesting beaches in the night, such as flashlights, candles or campfires. Hatching turtles must not be supported on their way into the sea (even not when they have, for example, fallen on their backs or are apparently running in the wrong direction). Thank you so much for helping us to protect the animals and the habitat of the endangered sea turtle!