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First turtle nests of the year on Marathonisi, Zakynthos

You will now notice a few nests popping up over the next few months, and the most popular areas being at Laganas, Kalamaki and Gerakas peninsula. During this time, there are restrictions in place for various areas of the beach and we would like to point out that in these restricted areas, there is a curfew on the beach from 19.00p.m up until the morning 07.00a.m until the end of October this year.  Marathonisi island is also a nesting place for the turtles so anyone hiring boats to visit it should be aware that the island also has restrictions. Visitors  will probably notice the Marine Park authorities around to advise people to stay away from the nests, giving out information on what is expected during your stay at the Marine Park and cleaning on a daily basis the Marine Park area. We must remind you that visitors are also responsible for their own rubbish and it is important to note that unfortunately, many have left their rubbish behind, which often ends up in the sea:, please not let that be you!

If you are lucky enough to see hatchlings making their way out from their nests and trying to make their way to the sea,  our advise is to allow them to make their own way  down into the sea, as this is their blueprint on where to come back, it is this reason that you must not pick up a hatchling and carry it to the sea. The best advise is not to intervene with mother nature! However, if you feel there is an issue concerning anything within the Marine Park,  staff will always be on hand to help; and you will always find a member within one of the many kiosks along the beach front.

Zakynthos is not just home to us who live here,  it is home to our visitors when they stay here and of course that could mean in human form and in animal form.

You may not know that one of the most rare animal species chose Zakynthos as a place to bring up its young and that is none other than the Monachus Monachus, known otherwise as the Mediterranean monk seal.

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It is thought to be the world’s rarest and most endangered sea mammals on our planet- current estimates suggest that there are only 500 monk seals in the Mediterranean and 250 of them live in the waters around Greece, including Zakynthos. The monk seal is considered to be a coastal species that rarely leaves the coast. It feeds on fish, lobsters and octopus. In the past they bred on open beaches however, due to human activity over the years,  they usually breed within inaccessible coastal caves.

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Their birthing period starts in August and ends in December. Each female gives birth to only one pup. The nursing period usually takes three to four months and they reach adult age around four years their life span can reach up to twenty years.

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The National Marine Park of Zakynthos is an active organisation helping protect all. The Marine Park area which stretches across the Bay of Lagana, actually hosts more than 170 species of plant organisms which extend to both rocky and sandy substrates providing an area rich in food supply for many species, because of this, the area is known as the underwater “rainforest” of the Mediterranean.

It makes a great place for many species to rest and graze including the endangered species of the loggerhead Sea Turtle.

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The Marine protected area also hosts more than 30 protected and endangered species of vertebrates, fish and mammals which are particularly important for an ecological and economic perspective, such as the noble pen shell, the purple sea urchin, the dusky grouper, the parrotfish and the common dolphin.

When you visit the National Marine Park,  your trip can be made more enjoyable as you discover the animal and sea life within their natural marine environment, it is important to note though, if you encounter a monk seal, loggerhead sea turtle or any other marine creature, please respect it and its environment. Keep the area you visit clean to avoid pictures like this Septembrios_fokia_1

Do not approach any animal and make sure you keep a minimum of 15 meters distance between you whilst observing them. Remember YOU are the intruder in their home, so try not to make it stressful for them.

A special thank you to Irene Margari from the National Marine Park of Zakynthos for the information that was required.

 

About Louise Inzk

Louise is Australian born and has been a Greek citizen since 1991. She has deep cultural ties with the island, often writing about Zakynthian Traditions and Culture. She is also an active member of the Volunteer Group of Zakynthos, Giostra Di Zante and is a member of the women's choir "Rodambelos". Her love of the island and all it offers saw her joining the Zakynthos (Zante) Informer admin team in 2014.

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