The Caretta caretta loggerhead turtle is the only one of the three species of marine turtles in the Mediterranean to reproduce in Greece.
Although it swims in far-off seas and oceans throughout the winter, at the end of May the female Caretta caretta returns to the shore where it was born to lay her own eggs.
The Caretta caretta lays her eggs throughout the entire southeastern Mediterranean (Libya, Tunisia, Italy, etc.), but 60 percent of the population visits the Greek coasts.
This beautiful turtle, which weighs an average 90 kilos and has a length of one meter in adulthood, continues to follow the same migration route for tens of millions of years, from the days of the dinosaurs.
Loggerheads, like all other sea turtles excluding the leatherback sea turtle, are members of the ancient biological family of Cheloniidae. About 40 million years ag0, a branch of the Cheloniidae gave rise to the loggerhead sea turtle.
The Caretta caretta is classified as endangered by the International Union for the Conservation of Nature, and is listed under Appendix I of the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES), making international trade illegal.
Laganas Bay, on the Ionian Sea island of Zakynthos, is one of the most important nesting sites for the Loggerhead. Other smaller nesting sites in Greece are in the Peloponnese and on the island of Crete.
One of the last remaining natural habitats of the Caretta caretta turtle in the Mediterranean, visiting Laganas Bay in the late spring provides a rare opportunity to see hundreds of them mating in the warm waters. In the summer, roughly 2,500 turtles lay their eggs on the sand beaches. Sea turtles nest where they were hatched and the Caretta caretta have been returning to Laganas for thousands of years.
This summer, nesting began on May 28, the director of the Greek "Archelon" Sea Turtle Protection Society, Theodoros Benos-Palmer told ANA-MPA.
He explained that the mating/nesting season would last 60 days.
The Loggerheads mate in the bay of the shore where they began their lives, and the females go ashore approximately every 15 days to dig a nest in the sand, where they lay about 110 eggs, which they cover over with sand. Each female digs an average three nests during the season, meaning that she emerges on the shore only three times.
The eggs incubate in the hot sand until early September, when they finally emerge at night and head to the water, attracted by the moonlight reflected on the sea.
Approximately 80 years ago, the entire world population of Caretta caretta was more than 50,000. Today it barely numbers 4,000.