Advancing Marine Turtle Conservation: A Comprehensive Study of Nesting Habitats and Effective Protection Measures for Caretta caretta in Albania

Endora Celohoxhaj

The loggerhead sea turtles, Caretta caretta (Linnaeus, 1758), is considered as vulnerable on global scales (Casale & Tucker, 2017). The species is particularly sensitive to various anthropogenic pressures in the coastal areas. Despite stil being considered as least concern in the Mediterranean (Casale, 2015), the assessment is rather outdated and was not focused on the local scales. Thus, there are severe threats to the sea turtles that enters or nests in the Albanian waters which are reflected in uncontrolled fisheries, destructive fisheries, habitat loss and pollution.

A loggerhead sea turtle (caretta caretta) was identified on Drimadhes Beach in Himara during the late evening hours. © Endora Celohoxhaj.

A loggerhead sea turtle (caretta caretta) was identified on Drimadhes Beach in Himara during the late evening hours. © Endora Celohoxhaj.

The project will be based in coast of southernmost Adriatic Sea of Albania. The first part of the proposed area is represented by sandy coast and long coastlines that are suitable for the nesting of sea turtles. The second part is characterized by gravel substrate and shorten coastlines but whit physical features which are also very important for the nesting sites. Despite there were 3 confirmed nests in the proposed area last year, there is a complete lack of systematic monitoring in Albanian coast, nor there are any data on the status and reproduction of marine turtles. For the past years, we are enthusiastically monitoring potential nesting beaches for sea turtles in Albanian coast and further collecting data on their distribution, threats and reproduction. Despite the data is not yet published, as we still consider it incomplete, we have successfully identified nests in last 3 years. Unfortunately, all of them were destroyed by different natural and anthropogenic pressures (such as natural predators jackals and sea gulls; tides and human disturbance on the nesting area with camping tents and sun umbrellas). Timely finding of the nests is crucial for their preservation and awareness rising.

Thus, the project aims to identify, map, protect and monitor the nesting sites for threatened marine turtles in southern Albania. Project activities will fully cover the nesting season for sea turtles which is expected between March and October, whilst hatchlings were expected to hatch until the end of November. The preparation activities will begin by the end of February while the fieldwork will be conducted June to November 2024.

Header: The assessment of loggerhead sea turtle (Caretta caretta) nesting after 90 days and the collection of eggs from the nest. This nest was discovered near the Grykderdhja area of the Vjosa River in July of 2022, but due to natural factors, none of the eggs survived, and none of the hatchlings emerged. © Endora Celohoxhaj.

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