KORONI and the turtles
We stopped in KORONI on our way to Sicily from Leros. We set off from Plitra in the morning and got to KORONI after several hours of sailing. The town looks very cute once you get close enough: blurred shapes start turning into nicely built houses and villas, a medieval castle on the left hand side dominates the bay and a cute cluster of houses and flats climb up the hill.
The road facing the sea is dotted with bars, restaurants, ice cream parlours and ‘ouzerie’,one after the other. Walking along it you end up to the castle, a magnificent building that dominates the surrounding sea.
We were starving after a day out sailing and went to a nice restaurant and had a fish platter for 2 and a small caraffe of ouzo. The food was just ok, not the best we had in Greece but our tummies were now full and we started wandering around the streets to get to know the place a bit better.
Our attention was caught by a group of people standing by a kiosk. They wore a blue t-shirt with ‘ask me about sea turtles’ on it. Who can resist such an invitation?
We went there and enquired about sea turtles! It was only the day before that I had seen a big turtle swimming by our boat in Plitra so I was more than happy to find out more about these interesting creatures.
The volunteers told us that Zangla beach in KORONI is one of the areas where female turtles lay their eggs. Exactly the same place where they hatched at least 20 years earlier- the wonders of nature and ‘no GPS’!
Sea turtles keep coming back every 3 years during the breeding period (May to October). They live up to 80 years and start laying eggs in their 20ies- just like humans!
The little turtles hatch at night and reach the sea following the reflection of the moon on the water. The short journey from the nest to the sea is very important for them as it strengthens their flippers and their lungs before their first dip.
The volunteers also told us that they go for a long walk on the beach every morning at 6.15 to check the nests and help baby turtles who might have lost their way to the sea. People are encouraged to join them.
We really liked the idea! At 5.45 am the day after I woke up Gc with some nice espresso still hot from the Moka and with a torch in one hand and the pillow marks still on our faces, we started speeding towards Zangla beach with our dingy.
We saw a group of people moving in the dark and waved at them. It was the volunteers together with some other tourists who had decided to join them for the day.
We started walking towards the first nest -there were 46 all together on Zangla beach- which had been marked with some bamboo canes and protected with a mesh to prevent foxes from digging them out and eating them.
During our long walk we saw signs of flippers along the path marked by the volunteers, which meant that some baby turtles had made it to the sea safely the night before. We also noticed some foxes footprints and broken shells: a clear sign that some little turtles never made it…
We were told that couple of days before few baby turtles had been found in the garden of a beach house. The outdoor light had been left on at night and the turtles had mistaken it for the reflection of the moon on the sea and gone the wrong way. Those didn’t make it either….
After 2 hours of walking, we didn’t see any baby turtles that morning, but we learned a lot about the Caretta Caretta turtle and how important it is to respect their environment and to protect them. The mother will go to the beach to lay the eggs, if she encounters obstacles along the way she will try 3 times. After the third attempt though she will give up and release all the eggs at sea. The baby turtles have no chance to survive if that happens.