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odd nesting This nest has been laid in the middle of permanently placed umbrellas. Eggs stand less chance of maturing amid such disturbance.

Fighting for a place in the sand

Turtles can easily be prevented from nesting and their eggs can be destroyed by the activities of holiday makers on the beach. The multitude of umbrellas, deckchairs, sunbeds and tables which usually litter beaches can present an impenetr able barrier to an egg carrying turtle, causing her to return to the sea or lay her eggs in an inappropriate site. This has been regularly witnessed on the Mediterranean beaches of Zakynthos, in Greece and Dalyan, in Turkey.

An umbrella spike plunged into the sand above a nest can decimate the nest since even if only one or two eggs are broken they will rot and infect the entire clutch. Even innocently dug sand-castles can become impenetrable 'mountains' to n ew-born turtles, frustrating their efforts to reach the shore.

Over time, the heavy and constant use of a beach by tourists can completely change the nature of the sand through compaction. This affects the capacity for gases to circulate around nests which in turn reduces growth rates in embryo turtl es and increases mortality of hatchlings. Traffic on beaches can compact sand even more severely, making it virtually impossible for turtles to dig nests.

tracks between beach furniture The tracks in this photo show how a turtle was forced off the beach after crawling into sunbeds.
raking sand Permanently placed beach furniture can present an almost impenetrable barrier to nesting turtles, forcing them to return to the sea without laying their eggs..
(MEDASSET/L Venizelos)

Turtle friendly tourism

  • At particularly important nesting sites, regulations should be implemented to restrict visitors from the areas of the beach used most frequently by turtles. This is usually the back section where the sand is soft and dry; markers should be put out to ward beach uses away.
  • Beach furniture such as deckchairs and umbrellas should be kept out of this area and all beach furniture should be removed at night. Beaches should also be closed at night during peak nesting seasons with access allowed only with qualified guides.
  • Signs should be in place to make it clear why the beach is important to turtles and to explain how special regulations are needed to protect their nests.

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WSPA's campaign booklet - Turtle Alert! has been adapted for the WWW by EuroTurtle, which is a Web based project by MEDASSET International (Mediterranean Association to Save the Sea Turtles), Exeter University (UK) and the Biology Department of King's College,Taunton, UK. EuroTurtle is Europe's first Sea Turtle Biology & Conservation Web Site for Science and Education.

Copyright © 1997, WSPA (World Society for the Protection of Animals).
These pages are the intellectual property of WSPA.
Permission to copy these materials must be obtained from WSPA.