A lack of funding and proper organization has left a key nesting ground for the endangered Mediterranean loggerhead turtle (Caretta caretta), off the coast of the Ionian island of Zakynthos, without guards, giving free rein to organizers of day cruises, Kathimerini has learned.

Pleasure boats are moored along the coastline of Marathonisi from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. daily, according to architect Dionysis Zacharias, whose family owns the tiny islet. He complained that hundreds of tourists visit daily, disturbing the turtles. “This is one of the most significant breeding grounds for the Caretta caretta,” he said.

The director of conservation group WWF Hellas, Dimitris Karavellas, blamed the problem on funding cuts which have prevented the recruitment of guards for the nesting site.

Environment Minister Yiannis Maniatis insisted that the funding problem had been “unblocked” but suggested that the protection program had yet to get started.