Being the main nesting ground in the Mediterranean for the Caretta Caretta turtles has many benefits and attracts many visitors to the island of Zante. However, it also brings certain responsibilities; mainly to ensure that tourism and human development does not infringe on the habits and habitat of this endangered species of sea turtles. The National Marine Park of Zakynthos works throughout the year to safeguard the nesting ground of the turtles in Zante.
During your holiday in Zante, especially on the South and South-West coast, you are bound to come in contact with the National Marine Park who monitor and protect these beaches. We have put together some more information about this important Greek organization.
Eco friendly travel agencies in Zakynthos, Greek islands, invite you to cruise with volunteers from the turtle protection society as thyrough the magical National marine park of Zakynthos. You'll meet the caretta-caretta turtles and learn about this endangered species on eco friendly boat trips which r in accordance with the guidelines of the National Marine Park of Zakynthos.
On these boat trips in Zante you also swim and snorkel in the most spectacular beaches around the island of Marathonisi.
Their main interaction with tourists comes in the form of beach stations, located on all of the main beaches in the Bay of Laganas, where the Caretta Caretta loggerhead sea turtles like to nest. National Marine Park workers at these stations aim to kindly inform tourists about the turtles to encourage minimal negative impact on their habitat.
The National Marine Park, located on the Southern Coast of Zakynthos, encompasses the Marine area of Laganas Bay, including the beaches and a stretch of land adjoining them. It also includes the two small islands of Strophadia, which are 50 miles south of Zakynthos.
The region of the National Marine Park in Zakynthos provides the most important nesting rookery in the Mediterranean for the endangered species of loggerhead sea turtles, known as the Caretta Caretta. Also present in the region is the critically endangered species of Monachus monachus, which is known as monk seal.
What the visitor should know!
The boundaries within the region of the National Marine Park include definite zones. Certain activities are permitted within these zones – others are strictly prohibited. On Sekania Beach and Pelouzo Island all visitors are prohibited from entering. These are kept as sacred nesting grounds for the turtles, totally undisturbed by humans, and are known as an ‘Area of Absolute Protection’.
On the beaches in the Bay of Laganas that are open to tourists there are some restrictions on activities. These beaches are known as ‘Nature Protection Areas’. The main restrictions are:
• Public access to nesting beaches only from sunrise to sunset
• The use of sun umbrellas, more than three to five meters above the waterline as they may disturb eggs within the turtle nests
• Digging on beaches where turtle nests are located, or disturbing the blue cage markers that are laid out to mark the presence of the nests
• The use of vehicles on beaches, including bicycles, motorbikes and cars
• Horses and dogs without a leash are not permitted on beaches
• The use of any light source at night due to the fact that this may disturb the turtles
• You are requested by the National Marine Park Place to place rubbish in bins, or to take it with you when you leave. It is important not to throw or discard rubbish or plastic into the sea, because sea turtles may eat the plastic, mistaking it for jellyfish, and die from suffocation
• Sea urchins and starfish must not be removed from the seabed
In the sea, the National Marine Park also monitors motor boat activities. All boats are prohibited in Zone A. They are also permitted In Zone B, but at a speed limit of 6 miles per hour, and they are not allowed to drop anchor. In Zone C boats are permitted at a speed limit of 6 miles per hour, and may drop anchor.
If you are going to head out on a turtle spotting trip, bear in mind the correct procedure for observing the Loggerhead Sea turtle:
• Maintain a minimal distance from the turtles of ten to fifteen meters
• Observation of each turtle should not exceed ten minutes per boat, when a turtle is near the surface, and fifteen minutes when the turtle is resting on the seabed
• Boats should not approach turtles from in front, blocking the direction of the swimming of the turtle
• No more than two boats should follow the same turtle at any one time
• Do not swim with turtles at any time
• Boat speed should not exceed two nautical miles per hour, when observing the turtles
• Professional tour boats should operate only between the hours of eleven in the morning and five in the afternoon
It is essential to be careful in the presence of a turtle and to behave in a manner that causes minimum disturbance. When a turtle is disturbed by your presence it will suddenly change direction or swimming speed.
On spotting marine mammals in the sea, such as dolphins, turtles or seals, all boats should decrease speed to within the legal limit, and not change direction abruptly. It is important not to chase or circle animals, nor to rev the boat engine. Animals should be allowed to approach or swim away from a boat in their own time. You should not try to touch, feed, or swim with any animals. Depart immediately if you observe any animals striking their head or fins on the surface of the sea. Such activity indicates that the animals have been disturbed. If anyone spots an animal in distress please report the situation as soon as possible.
On finding an injured or sick animal (sea turtle, seal, dolphin or bird) please contact the National Marine Park of Zakynthos or the Port Police immediately.
For further information you can visit the newly opened Thematic Exhibition Centre at Daphne, Vasilikos. There, you can learn about the general biology of the Loggerhead Sea Turtle, its reproductive cycle, and the nesting beaches found on Zakynthos. It has something for all the family, with a series of informative videos. For the children, there is an exhibition of ‘masterpieces’ by young artists, as well as many educational toys to help develop awareness regarding environmental issues.
The Exhibition Centre is open from 10:00 until 20:00. (Telephone: 6973330786)
The easiest way to travel and enjoy turtle spotting trips in Zante is with a tour, specially designed to show you the best places to visit in Zakynthos.
If you are looking for things to do in Zakynthos, and places to visit in Zante, travel agencies in all the main resorts will advise on extraordinary sight-seeing tours in Zakynthos, many of which are guided by professional Zante tour guides. Many Zante trips are off the beaten track in Zante, away from mass tourism in Zakynthos.
You can visit travel agency offices in Zante in all main Zante resorts who we arrange trips which pick you up from central resorts on Zante island. You have a choie of trips around the island of Zante by boat, jeep safaris and mini bus. Travel agents in Zakynthos also arrange trips from Zante for trips to Kefalonia, Athens and Olympia.
Many on holiday in Zakynthos also visit agencies in their main resorts for advise on things to do in Zakynthos which will help tourists in Zante have an eco-friendly holiday with a personal touch.