Saturday , July 11 2020

Mission “Save Hercules”, Lagana Bay, Zakynthos.

The press release by ARCHELON, WWF and Medasset in regards to our sea turtles, Caretta Caretta, within the National Marine Park of Zakynthos, caused a lot of questions. Even more, those demanding  answers. Most of the messages were of disappointment that our National Marine Park has come to this.

Lagana Bay 13/08/19

Video click on link:-

The question put by ARCHELON, “what is happening in Laganas bay?” is one they wanted answered!

(Read more!)

For the moment, we are yet to see our Port Authorities and our Marine Park Authorities make a statement about the abuse these sea creatures face on a daily basis.

Messages were also of concern about the sea turtle known as “Hercules.”

Just how well is he doing, after his severe injuries?

We remind you that is was because of a FB status complaining people witnessed a sea turtle being ran over, that investigations took place.

Believing that the sea turtle was dead after the boat ran over it, and seeing a bloody trail, caused an uproar on social media. The turtle turned out to be the well known Hercules and just what happened to him, no one seemed to know. It was only after Zakynthos Informer getting in contact with the ARCHELON and the Marine Park of Zakynthos, that investigations took place. He was found after a search, with severe injuries to his shell. So bad were his injuries, the poor turtle would have had no chance of survival in the so called “Haven” he chose to live.

Kosta Papafitsoros, who is a volunteer for ARCHELON talks about Hercules.

“Meet Hercules, one of the coolest resident male turtles of Zakynthos. He is usually very calm and acceptable to human presence. He is actively foraging around Agios Sostis and loves hiding/resting on top of seagrass Posidonia Oceanica. Here, another volunteer, Adam Mulcahy is observing him in one of these resting moments.” This is the Hercules he remembers! Swimming freely within the “haven” known as the Marine Park of Zakynthos. Due to the injuries he received within the so called “Haven” Kosta is now hoping that one of his favourite turtles will survive.

As soon as the Marine Park officials along with ARCHELON volunteers spotted him, they acted quickly and he was transported immediately to Athens. It was here that an investigation of his injuries took place. Vets gave him on the spot treatment and a pray or two was made for him to pull through.

Weeks have gone past and Hercules is still fighting for his life. The danger is the hole that has been left in his shell and for that to heal properly. It is not the first time he has found himself in difficulties due to human interference. Being harassed by swimmers is one example. Even recently, this June to be exact and before the collision with a boat, he swallowed a fishing line. The line had made it through his internal organs, a miracle for Hercules.  Whilst photos of him trying to keep his area clean from pollution can be seen below.

In a post on social media we get the picture of how Hercules’ life was thrown into a fight of survival.

“With great anger and sadness, we announce today that Hercules is the latest victim of the totally irresponsible and unregulated turtle spotting boat behaviour in Laganas Bay!Hercules carapace was cut wide open when it was hit by a boat propeller. All indications show that this was done by a turtle spotting boat manoeuvring over him.Hercules, which is a male loggerhead present on the island since 2014, was hit so brutally that his inside organs are now visible.

He was quickly transported to the ARCHELON rescue centre in Athens where the experienced personnel is at the moment doing its best to keep him alive, even though the odds are against him.

Make no mistake: this was not an accident. This is the result of irresponsibility, greed and ignorance about sea turtles. Anyone in Laganas Bay can rent a boat and manoeuvre it above a turtle. Boats are circling turtles on a daily basis (sometimes even more than ten of them!). Creating a view that disgusts both locals and tourists.

Almost every single boat exceeds, very often by far, the speed limit of 6 knots, which by law exists in the bay. Until turtle spotting activities actually get regulated by laws (today only guidelines exist) and until these are properly enforced, I recommend the following:
If you are a tourist and you want to see a turtle via an organised tour, be very careful about the company that you are going to choose. Do a pre-check, ask around, see the reviews of online tourists sites, e.g. tripadvisor. If you go on a trip and you think that the crew took the welfare of the animal into consideration, go online and write a good critique. Otherwise, complain to the company and write down a very stern critique for the next people to see. 
Evaluation right now! From the tourists, for the tourists and the turtles! ” 

(video click on link) Video Hercules with friend Archilles 

The video shows Hercules with another sea turtle known as Archilles.  Unfortunately, he had a tragic end to his life, when a boat collided into him in Lagana Bay. Let’s hope Hercules does not have the same fate his friend did.

After six years of avoiding the worst, July 25th seemed to be one of the worst for Hercules. Somehow he didn’t get off lightly this time!

For now, he is being looked after by ARCHELON. His injuries are so severe that they are not a hundred percent sure whether he will pull through. He is a fighter and he is taking one day at a time with the help of the volunteers.

This little guy, whose name I think suits him just right. It is not that he is a huge Caretta Caretta, but the fact that he is a fighter.

He’s not giving up! In my book; he deserves the honour to be called Hercules!

Zakynthos Informer wish him a speedy recovery and to return to his natural habitat soon. Hopefully, however, to a marine park that operates as a “Haven” for those who choose to live there.

**special thank you to Anna Lamaj and Kostas Papafitsoros.

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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