The project focuses on areas that are pivotal for the conservation of the two sea turtle species occurring in the EU territory (Caretta caretta and Chelonia mydas).
In the EU, Caretta caretta has major nesting sites in Greece and Cyprus, and limited nesting in Italy. Most turtles from these sites remain in the eastern Mediterranean, with key foraging grounds located in EU waters, like the Adriatic (Italy, Slovenia, Croatia), Ionian (Italy, Greece, Malta), and the Levantine basin (Cyprus, Greece). In the EU, Chelonia mydas breeds in Cyprus only, and its foraging grounds in EU waters are in Cyprus and Greece. Those foraging grounds are also frequented by turtles from other Mediterranean nesting sites. The nesting sites and foraging grounds located in the EU territory are extremely important for Mediterranean sea turtles as a whole. Anthropogenic threats are particularly intensive in the EU territory, with high coastal development and fishing effort, which combined affect all sea turtle stages, from the critical reproductive phase to all age classes at sea.
All this makes conservation actions in key EU areas crucial for EU and Mediterranean sea turtle populations. The project is focused on those areas where conservation measures are deemed as important and urgent, and can make a difference for the sea turtle status at EU, national and local levels. The project includes all the 6 EU countries mentioned above (Croatia, Cyprus, Greece, Italy, Malta, Slovenia), and the relevance of the specific areas prioritized is described in the following national sections.
ARCHELON is a Partner of the UNEP/Mediterranean Action Plan and its members of ARCHELON participate in the IUCN/Marine Turtle Specialist Group (MTSG) contributing to the formulation of regional and global strategies for the conservation of sea turtles.
ARCHELON the Sea Turtle Protection Society of Greece.
ARCHELON works closely with state agencies, local authorities, research institutions, other NGOs, fishermen and local inhabitants in order to mitigate and reverse population decline of sea turtles. Priority is given to the elaboration and implementation of integrated management plans in the major sea turtle nesting and foraging areas of Greece
Research on Lošinj, carried out since 1987 is the longest continuous research on one resident population of bottlenose dolphins in the Mediterranean Sea. Field methods include photoidentification, environmental, behavioural & biopsy sampling, while analysis focuses on population size, trends, abundance and distribution, habitat use and use modelling, population structure, social interactions, evolutionary genetics, feeding habits and fisheries interaction, pollution and physiological response etc. Research on sea turtles include fisheries interaction, migration patterns identification through satellite tagging and injured turtles recovery. The Education activities cover all ages and interest groups. Kindergarten and school programs are licensed by Croatian Teacher’s training agency and can be part of school curricula. University students receive ECTS points for participation in different programs, while they can also complete degree thesis with us. In addition, numerous activities (workshops, lectures, events, public appearances, documentary films etc.) are carried out with the aim of raising of public awareness on different aspects of environmental and species conservation. Main centre for activities is the Lošinj Marine Educational Centre, the first of its kind on the Adriatic coast providing space for a permanent exhibition and specialist facilities for structured educational programmes. The Conservation programme translates the research findings into management plans for the protection of marine vertebrates and their habitats. Activities include development and advancement of Croatian Natura2000 network, local and regional conservation plans, international conservation policy framework development etc.
Four departments (zoology, botany, geology, mineralogy), 30 curators and professional staff and over 2 mil. specimens mostly collected in Croatia and neighbouring areas, are making CNHM a place that engage public and scientists alike. CNHM is part of both national cultural and scientific networks. Amongst most interesting collections are those of Krapina Neanderthal hominids (largest in the world), speleological collection and numerous holotypes. In science, CNHM carries out numerous projects related to nature and biodiversity inventorying, monitoring, research and conservation. Our pioneering activities in biodiversity research have always set the standards providing needed results for species and ecosystems conservation. Amongst other, sea turtle research in Croatia has been initiated and lead by CNHM staff since early 90es. Since that time, CNHM carried out the Adriatic marine turtle project aimed at collecting the baseline data on sea turtle distribution, human interactions and conservation status in the Croatian Adriatic. The activities of the program resulted in the legal protection of sea turtles, information related to threats and threats mitigation etc. Through our activities in education we aim at creating cooperation throughout Croatia to support learning and through innovative ways engage society to realize and understand the significance of natural diversity. Therefore, CNHM is active in public education and awareness programs developed for widest audience. Lectures, workshops, permanent exhibition and organisation of large thematic natural-history exhibitions etc are some of them. As part of this activities the exhibition on sea turtles has been developed several years ago, aiming at presenting the results of the research carried out in the Adriatic Sea.
The mission of the Department of Fisheries and Marine Research (DFMR) is the sustainable management and development of fisheries and aquaculture and the protection and preservation of the marine environment through an integrated scientific approach. The vision of the Department is the economic and social prosperity of the fisheries sector in Cyprus , in a clean, healthy and productive marine environment.
There are five Divisions within the DFMR: 1) Marine Environment, 2) Aquaculture, 3)Fisheries Control and Structures, 4)Fisheries Resources and 5) Fishing Shelters and Publicity. The Naval Service of the Department supports all of its activities in the sea.
The Department of Fisheries and Marine Research started implementing the Turtle Conservation Programme in 1978, after surveys in 1976/1977 and has continued implementing it uninterruptedly since then.
Today Nature Trust (Malta) is one of the oldest and largest environmental NGOs in Malta dealing with biodiversity and the environment. Over the years it has worked and lobbied hard to obtain legal protection status for various species of local flora and fauna, helping to save from extinction several rare and endemic species. The Trust is very active in Education For Sustainable Development through various means, with a strong belief in education as the best tool to create awareness on nature conservation. The organisation also carries out many environmental projects in Malta, namely in afforestation, habitat conservation, and the creation of marine protected areas. As the FEE representative, it runs five major educational programmes: Eco Schools, Young Reporters for the Environment, Learning About Forests, Blue Flag for Beaches, and Green Key for Hotels.
The organisation is also highly prevalent in wildlife rescue and rehabilitation activities. Through several programmes, Nature Trust (Malta) assists a variety of animal species, especially marine turtles, which are fully rehabilitated and released back into the wild. At present the NGO is seeking to set up the first wildlife rehabilitation centre in Malta with focus on turtles, which will also be geared towards de-oiling. Furthermore, the organisation works closely with the national authorities in monitoring turtle nesting sites in Malta, guarding the nests to ensure more chances of hatching. Nature Trust (Malta) also manages various sites of ecological importance in Malta, some of which are designated Natura 2000 sites.
These projects are very demanding, but Nature Trust (Malta) feels that this is the mission environmental NGOs should carry to help conserve the precious natural heritage of the Maltese Islands.
Marine biological research at OC-UCY focuses on the investigation of marine biodiversity and abundance in the Levantine, and on the mapping of coastal areas in Cyprus. OC-UCY also carries out environmental impact assessments and performs water analyses for nutrient concentrations. In particular, OC-UCY actively contributes to the enhancement of knowledge concerning marine life which is essential to the determination of the legislation regarding the adaptation to climate change. OC-UCY also assesses the effects of climate change through the study of biodiversity by monitoring physical parameters and recording invasive species. The OC-UCY is currently an active participant in the Interreg Mediterranean 2014-2020 BLUEMED project, as well as the CIESM marine biology programs Tropical Signals (monitoring invasive species) and JellyWatch (monitoring jellyfish populations).
BBCD staff comprises: scientists working in international networks on Taxonomy, Ecology, Molecular and Conservation-related issues of marine, terrestrial and freshwater biodiversity; young postgraduates, PhD students, and post-docs, with very high skills in field and lab work, including bioinformatics, molecular systematics, ecotoxicology etc… Zoologists at BBCD direct and coordinate the Zoology Museum (MZUR) education and research activities. MZUR vertebrate and invertebrate collections (over 2 millions specimens) include primary type materials, and are constantly enriched by collecting campaigns. Teaching and popularization activities at MZUR for citizens and students of high schools aim at increasing the awarness of citizens on the issues of biodiversity, and on the role of natural history museums. University level teaching includes courses in zoology, marine biology, ecology, evolutionary biology, conservation biology.
BBCD launched sea turtle research in Italy in the 1980s, with the first surveys at land and collaboration with fishermen, and is the most active research group on these animals in Italy.
BBCD has participated in a number of LIFE-Natura projects during the years.
University of Primorska (Univerza na Primorskem/Università del Litorale, UPR) is a public higher education institution established in 2003 in the Slovenian coastal region (Primorska). It includes 7 faculties and carries out 65 undergraduate and graduate programs and 14 doctoral programs in the field of natural and life sciences, mathematics and information sciences, humanities and educational sciences. The Faculty of Mathematics, Natural Sciences and Information Technologies (FAMNIT) of the University of Primorska offers courses at all three levels of higher education (BSc, MSc and PhD) and conducts research in the fields of natural sciences, mathematics, computer science and information technologies. Apart from educational activities, FAMNIT is also involved in organisation of international conferences, scientific meetings and science-promotion activities for general public. The faculty employs 116 university teachers and researchers working in five departments, and 15 professional/technical and administrative staff.
The Life-EUROTURTLE project in Slovenia is operationally carried out by a research team of the Department of Biodiversity of UPR which has extensive skills, knowledge and experience in applied biodiversity research and application of the results in conservation and policy. The main research fields include population ecology of large marine vertebrates, impact of anthropogenic stressors on marine systems, conservation genetics and marine conservation, as well as studies in biodiversity and conservation ecology of terrestrial and freshwater ecosystems, and invasive species. Researchers of the Department of Biodiversity apply numerous contemporary methods in molecular ecology, spatial ecology and modelling, and taxonomy. The Department operates in new facilities of the university campus “Livade”, equipped with modern laboratories and state of the art equipment.
WWF Italy is an Italian Association for Environment Protection created in 1966; it has its headquarters in Rome. It is one of the national autonomous organizations born from WWF International and strictly related to it. Main objective of all WWF Associations are promotion, organization and financing projects on nature safeguarding all around the world. WWF Mission is finalized to stop the degradation of the planet’s natural environment and to build a future in which humans live in harmony with nature, by conserving the world’s biological diversity, ensuring that the use of renewable natural resources is sustainable and promoting the reduction of pollution and wasteful consumption. WWF Italy is a committed grassroots organization with hundreds of local groups, where over 5,000 volunteers actively participate in conservation or fundraising work. At the moment WWF Italy is the largest Italian environmental organization and its main activities are divided in nature conservation, site management, territory safeguard, education.