Zante is known for many things: beautifully hot summers, amazing local cuisine, long golden sandy beaches, stunning cocktails with the token straw umbrellas, the list goes on! One of the most special sights you can see here though is the endangered Caretta Caretta Sea Turtle.
These beautiful creatures use the sandy beaches of Zante, particularly those in Laganas bay, as nesting grounds during their season (June to August). The mother’s will come ashore and test the sand to find the most ideal place to lay her eggs. She will lay around 120 eggs, of which just over half will hatch. It is very important to not disturb the nesting sites, clearly marked out across the beaches the turtles like to use.
The new hatchlings use the reflection of the crest of the moon to find their way to the sea. If you are ever lucky enough to witness this, please do so from a distance. It is an important part of the birthing process for the turtle to make it’s own way into the water. Even after all the eggs laid and hatched it is estimated that only one in one thousand grow up to be an adult turtle.
The female turtle will always lay her eggs on the same beach from which she was born.
So how can you spot this majestic creature?
They are distinguished by their characteristically red-brown shell, large head and 4 large posterior fins. Caretta Caretta turtles have been known to grow to between 80 and 120cm in size with the largest weighing 140kg! Despite their impressive dimensions, they are nimble navigators in the water and can reach speeds of 30km/h.
The National Maritime Park of Zakynthos runs from Laganas all the way to Gerakas and also includes the islets of Marathonisi and Pelouzo. The park is the favoured location of the turtles and their conservation is protected by ARCHELON.
There are many boat trips which offer turtle spotting trips. You can also hire your own motor boat and use this to take a trip to Marathonisi, jump off and explore the waters with the a snorkel. While the turtles are naturally curious creatures it is advised to keep a cautious distance as they are wild animals and can be spooked. It is not recommended to feed them as it can be bad for their diet.They have also been known to have quite a strong bite if your fingers were to ever get too close. Ouch!
In short, if you get an opportunity to see these amazing creatures treat it with the respect it deserves. Remember to always take your rubbish with you away from the sea and beaches and dispose of it responsibly and never disturb the nesting areas or new borns.
We hope you have an amazing experience here on the island!