Caretta Caretta Loggerhead sea turtles are the symbol of the ecology of Zakynthos in the Greek Islands. Greece In particular Zakynthos, is the largest nesting ground for Caretta Caretta sea turtles in the Mediterranean Sea with over 3,000 nests each year.
The National Marine Park of Zakynthos was established to help protect the Caretta Caretta Turtles, particularly because the growth of tourism in Zante was threatening some of their nesting grounds.
There are now some restrictions on some South West Zante beaches after sunset and a few are closed altogether from tourists.
The Mediterranean Sea provides a nursery for young Caretta Caretta loggerhead sea turtles.
It is well documented that the female turtles swim away from the beach where they are hatched, into what is known as the 'lost years'.
Little is known of where they reside during that time. When they are finally ready, after a period of about thirty years, to breed, they return to the very same breeding ground where they were conceived, and actually return three times during the summer season to lay their eggs on the very same beach where they were hatched.
Although Caretta Caretta loggerhead sea turtles move quickly in the ocean, they are slow and unable to defend themselves on land.
Male Caretta Caretta loggerhead sea turtles hardly ever leave the sea. Female Caretta Caretta turtles leave the sea only to lay eggs, nesting at night between sunset and sunrise. Female Caretta Caretta loggerhead turtles generally nest every two to three years.
The nesting process can take between one and three hours. The female turtle will normally lay between fifty and two hundred eggs, the size of golf balls, in her nest. When she has laid her last egg, she covers the eggs with sand, stamping down the sand with her plastron. She then flings more sand about with her flippers to camouflage the nest.
It takes around two months for Caretta Caretta eggs to incubate. The hatchling turtles emerge from their nests, between sunset and sunrise, and make their way to the sea shore, under the light of the stars and the moon.
Light reflected off the water from the moon and stars helps to guide the hatchling Caretta Caretta loggerhead turtles to the sea. Problems can occur if car headlights, street lamps, or lights on buildings near the beach cause hatchlings to travel in the wrong direction. Any baby hatchlings still on the beach in the morning may be eaten by predators or die in the heat of the sun.