Turtles on Kalamaki Beach
On very rare occasions, you're able to witness something unique on the sandy shores of Kalamaki. Oddly it's not just humans looking to make the most of the golden sand. Zante turtles is the name and protecting them is the ”game'.
The beach at Kalamaki is a dedicated turtle conservation area, where endangered loggerhead turtles (Caretta Caretta) seasonally venture to the sandy shores to nest. On average, they only give birth once every two to three years, mating for a period of up to six weeks, so it's an important time for preserving this threatened amniote. With Zante mainly known for its party lifestyle, this rare journey made by the turtles in Zante is a beautiful sight to behold as a nature lover.
To protect the ”Loggerheads' - nicknamed because of their large heads and horned beak - the nests are marked and easily visible as volunteers patrol the area to ensure their survival. It takes some time for the hatchlings to grow to the average adult size between 31 to 45 inches. To begin with they're so small that they're at a high risk of not surviving due to mother nature.
Taking into consideration pollution, a weak shell at birth that doesn't protect them and the threats from tourism, their numbers are decreasing rapidly. Only 1.8 inches in length, baby turtles in Zante get used to the water by swimming out to sea on their own before returning after seven days. If you're lucky enough, you may see the tiny baby turtles break free from their shells and take to the water for the first time.
If you do miss this amazing phenomenon, don't worry, as the shallow coves are well known for being turtle spotting hotspots throughout the year. The national marine park has taken it upon themselves to protect the Caretta Caretta following the dangers to their existence. With over 80% of the ”loggerheads' only returning to the same spot where they nest, the south coast of Zante has increased heavily in visitors due to the turtles in Zante.
Often swimming long distances, sometimes thousands of kilometres, it's truly a sight to behold to witness these beautiful creatures. While there's plenty of space for sun worshippers on this remote part of the island, precautions are put in place to protect them, such as taking the sunbeds away from their nesting zones and not shining lights at nights.
Unfortunately, the slightest disturbance can make the female abandon her plan of nesting and return to the sea. As well as being a home for turtles for a brief period, the beach is a peaceful setting to unwind under the warm Greek sun. Kept thoroughly clean to allow the Caretta Caretta's successful and peaceful mating, the golden sands are in a pristine condition. The cool, blue waters gently shelve from the sand making the shallow depths safe enough for families.
Because of the protection of the turtles in the area, water sports are not permitted on this beach while boat excursions are also popular for getting a better view of the loggerheads in the sea.
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