Survey on sea turtle nesting activity South Lebanon, 2004
Prepared by Monica Aureggi* Charbel Rizk** Lily Venizelos*** 24th January 2005.
NAUCRATES, Via Corbetta, 11 22063 Cantuâ€™ (Co) Italy. email@example.com
MEDWETCOAST Project, Ministry of Environment, Lebanon. firstname.lastname@example.org
MEDASSET: 1C Licavitou St., 10672 Athens, Greece. email@example.com
Acknowledgements Research was carried out between 25th June and 11th August 2004, in the framework of MEDASSETâ€™s conservation programmes in the Eastern Mediterranean providing coordination and financial support, in order to facilitate future management decisions that may safeguard the long-term existence of these critical nesting habitats, to teach Lebanese representatives to monitor and protect turtle nests and to collect viable data throughout the season. The project was a collaboration between MEDWETCOAST Project (MWCP) and the Mediterranean Association To Save the Sea Turtles (MEDASSET). Supported by the Marine Conservation Society (MCS) Turtle Conservation Fund (UK). The Co-authors would like to acknowledge the help and support of the staff of the Tyre Coast Nature Reserve, Tyre Municipality, Lebanese Ministry of the Environment and MEDWETCOAST Project. Special thanks to Charbel Rizk, Hiba Rteil, Mona Khalil, Habiba Syed, and Max Kasparek for their invaluable contribution to the project. Grateful thanks to the guards, Ali and Habib for assuring safety during the morning surveys. Thanks to Nabil Chemaly, Eyad and Rania Mroueh for their voluntary fieldwork. Thanks to Suzanne Crossland for help with the report text and design. Finally, we must mention the children and local people who patiently listened to our awareness and conservation talks.
Table of Contents 1. INTRODUCTION
a. Sea Turtle Biology
b. Status and importance in Lebanon
2. SURVEY IN TYRE COAST NATURE RESERVE & ABBASSIEH
a. Location and study area
3. CONSERVATION AWARENESS AND TRAINING
4. THREATS AND POTENTIAL SOLUTIONS
I. Threats a. On Land
b. At Sea
c. Detailed beach specific information
II. Solutions a. On Land
b. At Sea
5. REQUIREMENTS FOR HABITAT ENHANCEMENT OR PROTECTION IN THE TCNR
6. RECOMMENDATIONS FOR FURTHER ACTIONS
9. PHOTO GALLERY
1. INTRODUCTION a. Sea Turtle Biology: Life Cycle Marine turtles spend the majority of their lives in the marine environment, but their existence begins on land as hatchlings. Decades later, as adults, the females return to land to lay their eggs. A marine turtles life cycle, the sequence of events from an individuals birth to its death, occurs mostly in the water with only a fragment occurring on land. The existing seven species of marine turtles share a common life cycle, which vary marginally. Hatchlings enter the sea and are not seen again until at the juvenile stage, in the open oceans foraging zones. As juveniles, they are observed in a developmental habitat, before moving to the foraging habitat, which they share with adults. For the reproductive period, they migrate from their foraging habitat to their mating area. Females and males encounter each other in the nesting habitat before the males return to their foraging zone. The females spend the season in their nesting habitat. Once the reproductive period ends, females return to their foraging zone. Eggs laid on the beach produce hatchlings, approximately two months later, that crawl into the sea. Here, the hatchlings begin a pelagic phase lasting several years. This pelagic phase, undertaken by most sea turtle species, is the least known life-stage and is therefore termed the â€œlost yearsâ€?. Hatchlings sequentially use three different sets of cues to maintain orientation during their initial offshore migration. While on the beach, they locate the ocean by crawling towards the brightest seaward horizon, orientating away from elevated vegetation and dune silhouettes. Upon entering the sea, they initially orientate seawards by swimming into the waves and by setting a magnetic course based on near shore cues, they continue on offshore migration. As soon as they enter the sea, they undergo a period of hyperactive continuous swimming activity (frenzy period), which lasts an average of 24 hours. By the second/third day (post frenzy period), hatchlings swim exclusively during the daytime. Variation in frenzy and post frenzy behaviour may vary between species. They undertake denatant migration offshore to the open ocean, often taking refuge in circular current systems (gyres) that transport them. Taking advantage of the gyres, they feed and grow for several years until at the juvenile stage. Juvenile nursery habitats (pelagic and oceanic) are often located in association with weed lines or drift lines proximate to frontal boundaries near major currents. This periodâ€™s duration varies between species and populations. Green turtles spend less time in the oceanic nursery than Loggerheads, which remain here until they are larger than the Greens. The end of this life cycle stage is determined when the juveniles reappear in their developmental habitat (neritic and demersal). From a physiological viewpoint, the shift from the pelagic to the demersal stage may be explained by the capacity of older specimens to dive deeper, for longer periods than juveniles. Leatherbacks are the exception, remaining pelagic even as adults. During this phase, juveniles may make seasonal foraging migrations into temperate latitudes. According to several authors, seasonal juvenile migrations were recorded within the Mediterranean.
Once juveniles reach adult size (i.e. they are larger than the minimum breeding size), they are found in the adult foraging habitat, an area usually separated from the nesting habitat. Adult-sized turtles within foraging habitats include sexually immature and mature individuals. Although marine turtle foraging areas are globally, widely dispersed, primary foraging habitats are located within the north and south 20 °C isotherm of the average sea surface temperature and in relatively shallow continental shelf areas. At the onset of the breeding season, adults of both sexes travel from their foraging habitat to their breeding habitats (breeding migration), located close to their nesting beach/ beaches. Females generally do not reproduce annually, whereas males may breed every 1-2 years. The mean interval between a given females reproductive seasons varies from 1- 9 years between species. There is little knowledge on courtship behaviour: most observations have been made in captivity. Mating often occurs near the nesting beach but could also occur along migratory corridors. It generally occurs 1-2 months preceding the egg laying cycle of the season. Copulation lasts several hours and mating pairs are observed at the sea’s surface. Multiple mating’s of females during a nesting season have been reported. In Green turtles, the carapace of older females is often deeply and permanently scarred in the marginal, where the male’s claws have clasped the female. At the end of the mating period males return to the adult foraging habitat, whereas females swim between the breeding and nesting habitats (the inter-nesting habitat). The adult female emerges on the nesting beach laying several clutches of eggs at approximately 2-week intervals, variable depending on the species. Nesting sites usually correspond to the region of the female’s natal beach. Nesting beaches are accessible from the sea, high enough to prevent nest inundation by tides, possess a suitable substrate for gas exchange in the egg chamber and provide the eggs with an appropriate moisture level. The nesting process is similar for different marine turtle species and has been fully described by many authors. The eggs, white, spherical and with a 4-6cm diameter (depending on species), buried in the sand, at approximately 50 cm deep, incubate naturally for a period of between 50-70 days, depending on the species and environmental temperatures. Clutch size and number of clutches per season vary between species. An average clutch consists of 100 eggs. The nest environment must meet certain conditions to allow embryonic development (gas exchange, moisture and temperature levels). Hatchling sex is determined by nest temperature. This process is called “temperature dependent sex determination” (TSD). Cooler temperatures produce males and warmer temperatures produce females. A pivotal temperature exists, which produces an equal ratio of both sexes in a nest. Hatching success is typically high (80% or more) unless external factors interfere. Hatchlings usually emerge nocturnally, controlled by a gradient of sand temperature at the surface. Hatchlings often emerge from the nest simultaneously, as a group effort. They break free from their eggs and by doing so stimulate surrounding eggs to hatch synchronously. The hatchlings work co-operatively to exit the nest. Those higher in the nest scratch down sand from the nest walls and ceiling. Hatchlings beneath crawl up the egg chamber by climbing on top of discarded eggshells and the sand filtering down from above. This elevates hatchlings up the egg chamber, allowing nest exit, often in small groups (from Gerosa and Aureggi, 2001).
According to their life cycle, marine turtles depend on two main habitats: land and sea.
Nesting Environment (Adults and hatchlings) Pelagic Zone (Juvenile nursery habitat)
Marine Environment (Hatchlings, juveniles, adults) Demersal/ neritic zone (Juvenile developmental habitat and adult foraging)
b. Status and importance in Lebanon Three species of marine turtles, Loggerhead turtles (Caretta caretta), Green turtles (Chelonia mydas) and Leatherback turtles (Dermochelys coriacea) are encountered in the Mediterranean. Caretta and Chelonia nest within the basin, and Dermochelys has occasionally been recorded in the sea. The main nesting concentrations of Caretta caretta in the Mediterranean are located in Greece, Turkey and Cyprus. Substantial nesting has also been discovered in Libya (Laurent et al. 1997) but nesting effort needs quantifying. Minor nesting sites are located in Egypt, Lebanon, Italy, Syria, Tunisia and occasionally in Spain (Margaritoulis, 2001). Nesting of Chelonia mydas occurs exclusively in the South Eastern part of the basin, mainly in Turkey and Cyprus; few nests appear in Egypt, Syria, and Lebanon (Margaritoulis, 2001). Total nesting effort of Caretta caretta in the Mediterranean ranges from 3,375- 7,985 nests per season (Margaritoulis et al, 2003). However, these numbers are considered minimum figures, as they exclude nests outside of monitored areas or in countries where regular monitoring has not yet begun (e.g. Lebanon, Libya). Annual Chelonia mydas nesting effort ranges between 350-1,750 nests per year. An estimate of 115-580 females per season can be generated, by dividing nest number by 3; the estimated average number of nests a female lay’s each season (Kasparek et al., 2001). The two Mediterranean species are listed in IUCN’s Red Data Book (2000) as Endangered. Chelonia mydas is categorized as Critically Endangered because global figures are so small. Several International Conventions contain provisions for the protection of marine turtles. The most important are: − The Convention on International trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES). − The Convention on the Conservation of European Wildlife and Natural Habitats (Bern Convention). − The Convention for the Protection of the Mediterranean Sea against pollution (Barcelona Convention).
âˆ’ The Convention on the Conservation of Migratory Species of Wild Animals (CMS) (Bonn Convention). The Barcelona Convention is the only one to which all of the riparian Mediterranean nations are signatories. The significance of this Convention is reflected in the adoption of an Action Plan for the Conservation of Marine Turtles and in the establishment of a coordinating mechanism, known as RAC/SPA (Regional Activity Centre for Specially Protected Areas). Lebanon is a contracting party to UNEP/ MAP (1975), which attempts to protect the Mediterranean in an environmentally sustainable way. MAP reflects the priorities and activities of UNEP. Lebanon signed and ratified the Mediterranean Action Plan (UNEP) in 1975, the Barcelona Convention and protocols, and the revised Action Plan for the conservation of marine turtles (1999). Within the Mediterranean Action Plan, recommended actions at National level were listed for each country (UNEP-MAP/ RAC/SPA, 1999). A survey of the entire Lebanese coast was conducted by MEDASSET in 2001 (Demirayak et al., 2002) and another in 2004 to assess potential sea turtle nesting sites and nesting concentrations. In 2002 and 2003, surveys were conducted around El Mansouri (Newbury, 2002; St. John et al., 2003). Surveys based around the entire coast found that there is sparse nesting along part of the northern coast, which is scattered on several developed beaches, and the southern nesting sites were found to be more important and relevant nationally and regionally. Along a 20 km stretch of coast, near Tyre town, three assessed nesting sites have been deemed important for both Mediterranean nesting species (Table 1; Fig.1). Fig. 1. Location map of study sites in Lebanon
Fig. 1b: Detailed map of the Study area: Tyre Coast Nature Reserve.
Key: P= Car Park. Section A= 0.654 km; Section B=0.320 km; Section C = 0.740 km.
Abbassieh TCNR Ras El Ain (TCNR) El Mansouri Total
Length (m) Number of seasons
Min - Max Caretta
1,670 1,714 0,600
2 1 1
weekly daily daily
4 3 – 61 91 – 91 -
Min – Max Chelonia 13 – 91 -
332 – 373 46 – 52
32 – 53 4 – 14
Table 1. Estimation of annual nesting effort in South Lebanon. TCNR = Tyre Coast Nature Reserve. Min - Max = number of nests per season. Data derived from: 1 2004 survey; 2 Newbury et al., 2002; 3 St John et al., 2003. With the exception of estimates provided for El Mansouri, collected daily during part of the season, nest numbers indicated represent site underestimates or minimum figures because surveys were not conducted daily or throughout the entire nesting season. Additionally, these figures exclude nests laid on small beaches besides those surveyed. Although data is incomplete and represents an underestimate, total nesting effort in south Lebanon ranges between 46-52 Caretta nests and 4-14 Chelonia nests. Until recently, data on nesting effort for Lebanon was unavailable, due to an absence of beach surveys. Although long term seasonal monitoring in south Lebanon is urgently needed, which could provide higher figures; MEDASSET’s recent surveys have identified an estimated nesting effort for the country. The overall Caretta nesting effort in the Mediterranean, including values from monitoring projects and estimates, is shown in Fig.11.1 in Margaritoulis et al., 2003 (Fig. 2). Lebanon was designated an open triangle indicating an estimate, because nesting effort data was unavailable. Although long term daily monitoring in south Lebanon is urgently needed and would probably provide increased figures, the country can now be included within the category of 21-100 nests per season indicated with a small solid triangle (Fig. 2).
Fig.2. Mediterranean nesting effort: update of Fig. 11.1 in Margaritoulis et al., 2003. To identify conservation priorities for Mediterranean green turtle nesting sites, areas are classified according to the maximum number of nests recorded in any year (Kasparek et al., 2001). Although long term monitoring for Chelonia on a daily basis in South Lebanon is urgently needed and would probably provide increased figures, the area according to the recent estimation could be considered a nesting area of “moderate importance” with 10-100 nests per season (Kasparek et al., 2001). Coastal tourism in the Mediterranean is set to continue increasing. In Lebanon, urban sprawl, uncontrolled development and poorly planned tourist investments are threatening the remaining coastline (Newbury et al., 2002). Priority should be given to the still undeveloped southern area, by declaring and managing it as a protected area, preferably before there is development pressure. Turtles return to their natal area, to nest, when they mature. This imprinting and fidelity of turtles to their natal beaches leads to demographically distinct and independent populations (Demetropoulos, 2001). By protecting key nesting beaches, a contribution will be made towards conserving the two nesting species. In protected areas such as the TCNR, in addition to spatial planning regulations governing development, seasonal beach management measures should be applied throughout the year. 2. SURVEY IN TYRE COAST NATURE RESERVE & ABBASSIEH a. Location and study area Beaches were visited at the start of the survey and their locations (Fig. 1b) were recorded using a Global Positioning System (GPS) (Garmin 12). Key points were defined as latitude and longitude in degrees and minutes (hddd°mm.mmm’).
Tyre Coast Nature Reserve (TCNR): This site is located immediately south of the City of Tyre. The reserve is one of the only remaining protected sandy beach ecosystems in Lebanon. It is an important nesting site for sea turtles and contains fresh water estuaries and springs that outflow to the sea thus creating a fresh/ marine water interface. Its biodiversity derives from several elements grouped in a small area of 3.8 km² only. These elements form a mosaic of habitats and include the only coastal dunes in the country associated with their dune fixing plants, water-bodies, a wide sandy beach that is of great attraction to marine turtles, and an agricultural area. Moreover, the site encompasses an ancient water spring, streams and marshes, which are located several metres from the sea. The total length of the beach is 1,714m, determined by GPS. It is located within the TCNR and extends from 33°15.698’- 035°12.423’ in the north to 33°14.794’ – 035°12.740’ in the south (extending from the Rachidieh camp). For monitoring purposes, the shore of TCNR was divided into three sectors: • Sector A: (part of TCNR’s Tourism Zone) from the Rest House wall, northern end (33°15.698’ – 035°12.423’), to the end of the beach kiosks (33°15.371’ – 035°12.656’). Total length: 654m. It consists of fine sand, mechanically compacted at the start of high season to install the kiosks. Sixty kiosks are located approximately 40m from the shoreline and there is a car park behind. Tables and chairs occupy a large beachfront area. • Sector B: (part of TCNR’s Tourism Zone) from the end of Sector A to the first fence indicating the start of the TCNR Conservation Zone (Sector C) (33°15.201’– 035°12.710’). Total length: 320m. Sector B consists of fine sand and is approximately 80m wide. Removal of dry sand enabled construction of a football ground approximately 50m from the sea. This area is utilised for recreation and camping. • Sector C: (TCNR Conservation Zone) from the end of sector B to the fence that delimitates the Rachidieh camp (33°14.794’ – 035°12.740’). Total length: 740m. This beach sector corresponds to the reserves Conservation Zone, therefore, remains natural. It consists of fine sand with a small vegetation covered sand dune. There is a small wetland at the back of the beach. Ras el Ain (TCNR Sector B): total beach length surveyed was 600m determined by GPS. The beach is located after the end of the Rachidieh camp 33°13.844’ 035°12.691’ north to 33°13.525’- 035°12.629’ south. It consists of sand and pebbles. A small wetland and agricultural areas are located at the back of the beach. There is a stream flowing into the sea. The beach is used for animal grazing (goats, sheep and cows). Abbassieh beach (AB): located North of Tyre town. Total beach length surveyed was 1,670m determined with GPS. The study area began beyond the kiosk area, which has several permanent concrete pillars (33°17.132’ – 035°13.048) extending to a stream (33°18.008’ – 035°13.281’).
The beach consists of fine sand with sand dunes at the back extending approximately 1,200m. This area corresponded with the study area previously described as ‘El Abbassieh’ and ‘El Bourgheliye’ in St. John et al., 2003. Beyond this point, the beach becomes narrow and pebbly for approximately 200m before enlarging to a stretch of fine sand. Behind the dunes, is agricultural land and streams from here enter the sea. The beach is undeveloped, with the exception of several small, localized buildings. El Mansouri beach (EM): located approximately 15km south of Tyre town. According to a previous survey (Newbury et al., 2002) it is 1.4km long. MEDASSET Representatives, Mona Khalil and Habiba Syed, were responsible for conducting a monitoring program during the season. Technical advice was given on hatching methodology. Results of the El Mansouri 2004 research will be published elsewhere. b. Methodology The monitoring programme was conducted daily between: 27th June – 7th August 2004 at TCNR (Sectors A-B-C) and Ras el Ain, and weekly (minimum) at AB. Throughout the programmes duration, turtle tracks and nests and predator tracks were recorded daily by two people (minimum) walking the length of the beach, from 5.30a.m at TCNR (Sectors A-B-C). The survey was conducted in the early hours of the morning to ensure freshness and clarity of turtle and predator activities. If surveys are conducted later in the day, the sun, wind and human activities (footprints) reduce clarity, hindering accurate identification. The date assigned to every track or nest recorded, corresponded to turtle emergences from the previous night. Chelonia mydas and Caretta caretta tracks were identified to species according to the symmetry or asymmetry of the tracks. Chelonia tracks are symmetrical, because their front flippers move synchronously to pull the turtle over the sand. Caretta tracks are asymmetrical, because their front flippers move alternately (Pritchard and Mortimer, 1999). Each emergence track was examined to determine whether it was a nesting emergence (led to a nest) or a non-nesting emergence, also called a “false crawl” (no nest). Recorded tracks were erased at TCNR. At AB, recorded tracks were ‘marked’ by drawing a horizontal line across the track, to avoid repeat counting. Nests were identified through analysing the characteristic patterns in the sand. At TCNR, Loggerhead egg chambers were located by “probing”; introducing a wooden stick into the sand (Demetropoulos and Hadjichristophorou, 1995). A sample of 15 eggs per nest was measured. Some nests went unrecorded during the survey. These were later discovered through evidence of predation or hatching activity. It is assumed that they were laid before our arrival (27th June 2004) or that their tracks were erased by natural elements. Nests within the TCNR were marked with a stone (buried in the sand) and mapped with GPS. Distance measurements were taken from nests to the sea and vegetation. Fresh “false crawls” were also mapped daily with GPS. All measurements were taken using a 20m tape measure, held tight in a straight line from the nest to the water line or vegetation. During morning surveys, nests were checked and recorded for signs of predation or human disturbance. No hatching events were observed at TCNR, probably due to lots of human activity (footprints) hindering hatchling track discovery.
At AB beach, nests and tracks were recorded but not marked. Surveying on a weekly basis prevented identification of all nests laid, in particular observations of shallow Loggerhead tracks, which are not visible after 24 hours. c. Results Tyre Coast Nature Reserve (TCNR): 9 Loggerhead (Caretta caretta) nests were discovered and mapped using GPS along beach Sectors A-B-C (Tab. 2). The majority (77 %) were laid within Sector C, and only 23% within sector B. Two “false crawls” were found in Sector A and one in Sector C. Two nests were relocated towards the vegetation line.
Date 28/06/04 28/06/04 29/06/04 29/06/04 01/07/04 06/07/04 10/07/04 22/07/04 26/07/04 ?
Species Cc Cc Cc Cc Cc Cc Cc Cc Cc
Sector C C C C C B B C C A
Latitude 33°15.151’ 33°14.855’ 33°15.020’ 33°14.906’ 33°14.827’ 33°15.279’ 33°15.253’ 33°15.035’ 33°14.952’
Longitude 035°12.715’ 035°12.744’ 035°12.734’ 035°12.737’ 035°12.747’ 035°12.692’ 035°12.693’ 035°12.733’ 035°12.739’
Tab. 2: Loggerhead turtle (Caretta caretta) nests found on TCNR beach. Date = Laying (Oviposition) Date; Cc= Caretta caretta.
Although data is incomplete, because monitoring did not occur over the entire nesting season, nesting females preferred Sector C, which coincides with the reserves Conservation Zone. This section lacks tourist infrastructure and is less utilised by locals compared with Sectors A and B; interestingly, people were only seen jogging during the daytime and fishing in the mornings. For marine turtles, as with other egg-laying creatures, nest placement is important for reproductive success. When marine turtles come ashore to nest, they look for a nest site with appropriate characteristics. The southern part of the beach (Sector C) was preferable to the other areas (Sectors A and B), offering more suitable nesting site conditions to emerging turtles. In the northern part of the beach, many factors threaten the nesting habitat, e.g. tourism. If tractors drove over Sector B nests, they could have reduced their hatching success rates due to nest damage through compaction. All nests were located 5 – 19.4m from the sea (Fig. 3) and 16.8 – 50m (Fig. 4) from the vegetation line, indicating a nesting preference for the beachfront.
Fig. 3. Nest distribution in relation to distance from the sea
20 18 16 14 12 10 8 6 4 2 0 0,88 B
Spatial distribution of nests in relation to their distance from the sea
km /Beach Sector
Fig. 4. Nest distribution in relation to distance from the vegetation
50 45 40 35 30 25 20 15 10 5 0 0,88 B
Spatial distribution of nests in relation to their distance from the vegetation
km /Beach Sector
Some data on reproductive biology were recorded and summarized in Table 3. Tab. 3. Reproductive biology data on Caretta caretta at TCNR beach. * Sample of 15 eggs per nest; EC = Egg chamber. Reproductive biology Data Egg Diameter (cm)* Egg Weight (g)* Clutch size EC TOP (cm) EC BOTTOM (cm)
Mean 3.9 32.7 92 31 48
Min-Max Range of Individual values N 3.7 – 3.9 30.4 – 34.8 86 – 98 17 – 41 43 – 53
3.6 – 4.2 28 - 38 86 - 98 17 - 41 43 - 53
7 7 2 9 2
Ras el Ain (TCNR Sector B): no turtle emergences were recorded during the survey. An exact estimate of Loggerhead nests is only possible through daily surveillance. As their nests are only detectable within 24 hours of nesting activity, the result likely represents an underestimate. Abbassieh beach (AB): Loggerhead turtle (Caretta caretta) and Green turtle (Chelonia mydas) nests were found on AB. C. mydas laid 9 nests between km 0.730 and 1.440, C. caretta laid 4 nests between km 0.980 and 1.660. Additionally 3 C. mydas and 6 C. caretta “false crawls” were recorded. On 6th August, hatchling tracks were found exiting a C. mydas nest indicating that the nesting season began around 7th June (allowing for 60 days incubation). Since the survey was conducted on a weekly basis, data provide an underestimate, particularly for Loggerhead emergences and nests, detectable only when fresh. However, results confirm that the beach is important for both species. In fact, according to the first-year survey, conducted in 2003, 6 C. caretta nests and 1 C. mydas nest were identified on the first stretch of beach (St. John et al., 2003), but again these figures represent an underestimate arising from survey methodology. 3. CONSERVATION AWARENESS AND TRAINING On 14th July, a presentation was given in the TCNR office about the importance of sea turtle conservation, to a group of Municipality beach cleaners and guards. The aim of the talk was to raise survey awareness and to explain how they could help conserve the species’. This presentation was their first introduction to the subject, and they listened and asked questions. On 17th and 24th July, the main author, Rania (TCNR secretary) and Nabil (a volunteer), conducted awareness activities on the beach to 30 children (details in Annex - e). The children were split into two teams and had to pretend they were “turtle researchers”, observing tracks on the beach. The response was positive; they asked questions and made good on site observations. In addition to the children, some beach visitors approached and listened and we were invited back. A tape featuring environmental songs was distributed to each participant. On 18th July at El Mansouri beach, 20 university students visited the nesting site. A talk on sea turtle conservation was given and nests on the beach were shown. On the 19th/20th July, the first phase of training of trainees (TOT) was conducted at TCNR. An office lesson was given with a power-point presentation to 9 participants. The presentation contained general information about sea turtle biology, conservation and threats. The group monitored the beach of TCNR in the evening and participated in daily monitoring (early morning). Abbassieh beach was partially monitored, and one fresh Loggerhead nest was found. Although the trainees would need further field experience, it was a promising start. On 22nd July a group of children and adults with the TERRE organization visited TCNR. They were given a talk and shown a track in the sand. On 4th/5th August the second training phase for trainees was conducted at TCNR. Participants were shown a power-point presentation about hatchlings. The group monitored the TCNR beach that evening and participated in the early morning monitoring. Abbassieh beach was partially monitored, but no hatching was seen. On 7th August, a presentation was
made to the kiosk owners on the beach highlighting the importance of sea turtles in TCNR and the crucial need for their collaboration on site. The attendees were given an awareness package containing several posters produced by the Ministry of Environment and MedWetCoast Project and an educational song tape. On 11th August, a presentation on sea turtle biology and their status in Lebanon was given at the Ministry of Environment. The participants actively participated asking questions during the discussion session. During the research period, few volunteers participated in the morning survey, expressing interest in the work and learning about the methodologies, but none intended continuing the work in the future. Tab. 4: Description of the target Target group Municipality beach cleaners and guards School children University students 1st phase training of trainees on site Children and adults with the TERRE 2nd phase training phase for trainees on site Presentation at the MoE on sea turtle biology and conservation strategy Presentation to the Kiosk Owners On site training for local community members
Purpose Awareness Awareness (on site) Awareness (on site) Training Awareness Training Awareness (in the Ministry) Awareness of the users Trainings
4. THREATS AND POTENTIAL SOLUTIONS I. Threats 1.a. General threat information: description of threats highlighted in South Lebanon. 1.b. Threats checklist for South Lebanese nesting sites: marine turtle threats and their ranked significance on four surveyed beaches (Table 4). 1.c. Detailed beach specific information: Main threats are listed for each site, based on problems evident during surveying. Threats, such as fisheries, are not listed because they have not yet been estimated. General threat information This section provides supportive information used to rank turtle threats listed in Table 4. Threats concern the nesting (beach) environment and the marine environment (from Gerosa and Aureggi, 2001).
a. On the beach 1. Tourist development The most valuable land is often located along the coastline, particularly when associated with sandy beaches. For this reason, Mediterranean nesting beach loss through tourist development is a main threat, with much coastal development having occurred in recent decades. Buildings (e.g. hotels, discoâ€™s, houses, swimming pools, roads, etc.) proximate to nesting beaches negatively impact due to consequent light use, beachfront recreational furniture, increased human presence, vehicular use, garbage dropping, road development, etc. 2. Increased human presence/ anthropogenic impact Developed nesting beach use by tourists or locals may negatively impact marine turtle nesting, egg incubation and hatchling emergence. The most common and serious problem is disturbing nesting females (Demetropoulus and Hadjichristophorou, 1995), in fact nocturnal anthropogenic activities on the beach may result in females aborting nesting attempts at any stage of the nesting process. Pedestrian beach traffic may lower hatchling emergence through compacting sand at the nests surface (Mann, 1977). In addition, human footprints represent obstacles to hatchlings crawling to the sea, prolonging their time on land (Witherington, 1999). Bonfires and flashlight use may disturb and disorientate nesting females and hatchlings. 3. Artificial lighting/ Photo-pollution Extensive research has shown that artificial beachfront lighting negatively impacts nesting females and hatchlings. Green turtle adults avoid bright areas on nesting beaches (Gerosa et al., 1995). Fewer nests were laid in bright areas compared to darker oneâ€™s (Margaritoulis, 1985). Excluding buildings, other light sources that may deter nesting females, include vehicles driven beside or along nesting beaches (Witherington and Martin, 1996; Arianoutsou, 1988), flashlights and bonfires (Margaritoulis, 1985; Arianoutsou, 1988), camera flashes (Campbell, 1994). Artificial photo-pollution also affects hatchlings. A visual response to light is their principal component of sea-finding behaviour. Photo-pollution may fatally disorientate hatchlings. Disorientated individuals may crawl in the wrong direction, become entrapped in vegetation or debris, or get run over by traffic on nearby roads (Witherington, 1999; Irwin et al., 1998). Intense artificial lighting may even draw hatchlings back out of the surf (Carr and Ogren, 1960). 4. Beach vehicle use Nocturnal use of vehicles on nesting beaches may deter nesting females and/ or disorientate emerging hatchlings (NRC, 1990). Driving over incubating nests may cause sand compaction, which may decrease their hatching success rates (Mann, 1977; Witherington, 1999). Vehicular tracks on the beach may interfere with a hatchlings ability to reach the sea (Aureggi, 2003b; Witherington, 1999).
Vehicular traffic on nesting beaches contributes to erosion, especially during high tides or on narrow beaches where driving is concentrated on the high beach and fore-dune (NRC, 1990). 5. Beach Erosion Nesting beach erosion may cause partial or total loss of suitable nesting habitat (Dodd, 1988). Coastal development may accelerate erosion rates. 6. Beach Garbage Large amounts of debris (e.g., plastic, glass, hospital waste, tar balls, etc.) deposited on nesting beaches arrive via the sea. Layers of debris were found in the sand at different depths (Gerosa et al., 1995; Kasparek, 1995). Such layers may reduce suitable nesting beach habitat or may deter hatchling emergence (Yerli and Demirayak, 1996). Visitors may also dispose of waste on nesting beaches. 7. Recreational beach equipment Sun loungers, chairs, cabanas, umbrellas, canoes, small boats, etc. are physical obstacles deterring nesting attempts, interfering with egg incubation and hatchlings crawling to the sea (NRC, 1990; Arianoutsou, 1988; Witherington, 1999). The documentation of aborted nesting attempts in close proximity to these obstacles is increasingly common as more recreational equipment remains on nesting beaches throughout the evenings (NRC, 1990). 8. Predation Marine turtle nests may be attacked by an array of predators such as red foxes, jackals, dogs, feral hogs, etc. These animals locate eggs buried in the sand and destroy many nests (Aureggi et al., 1999; Broderick and Godley, 1996) becoming one of the main nesting site threats (Aureggi et al., 1999). Following nest attack, ghost crabs and birds may intervene, predating the remains (secondary predation). Predators attack hatchlings prior to, or during emergence, or whilst crawling to the sea (Aureggi, 2001; Aureggi et al., 1999; Broderik and Godley, 1996). Adults coming ashore to nest, may be attacked by jackals (Peters et al., 1994). 9. Flooding or inundation Marine turtle nests laid close to the high tide line (HTL) risk inundation, which may reduce hatching success rates. Sea storm may reach and flood turtle nests (NRC, 1990; Yerli and Demirayak, 1996) and alter their hatching success. 10. Animal grazing Beach animal grazing could negatively influence sand characteristics, altering sand composition and dune vegetation (Aureggi, 2003a).
b. At sea 11. Fisheries interaction (incidental take) Incidental capture in fishing gear has become one of the Mediterranean’s and the World’s main threats to marine turtles. A review on the subject is in Gerosa and Casale, 1999. 12. Ghost gears The losses and discards of commercial fishing gear in the sea may negatively impact marine turtles. Such gear can indefinitely ‘fish’: catch and entangle marine life indiscriminately, causing injury, strangulation, starvation and drowning. 13. Turtle exploitation Turtle exploitation negatively affects sea turtle populations and was previously common throughout the Mediterranean (Sella, 1982). Currently it is limited to a few of the basin’s countries (Grametz, 1989; Laurent et al., 1996; Nada, 2001). Periodically turtles are killed and eaten on board, usually when the crew regard the turtle as a delicacy (Gerosa and Casale, 1999). 14. Boat collision Collisions with vessels may injure or kill marine turtles. Regions of greatest concern have a high concentration of boat traffic and turtles (NRC, 1990). 15. Pollution and marine debris Ingestion of marine debris negatively affects marine turtles, by obstructing the gut, absorbing toxic by-products and reducing the gut walls nutrient absorption (Balazs, 1985). Effects of industrial, agricultural or residential pollutants are difficult to evaluate. The necessity to swim close to the surface to breathe makes turtles susceptible to chemicals present here, which provoke skin carcinogenesis (Lutz et al., 1986), loss of sense organ and salt gland function, resulting in mortality (George, 1997). The marine turtle’s mode of respiration, a rapid inspiration of surface layer air before diving, introduces petroleum vapour into the lungs reducing the individual’s growth (Lutcavage et al., 1997). Consumption of contaminated food or tar balls induces a decrease in breeding capacity and causes physiological problems (Lutcavage et al., 1997). Additionally, tar adheres well to the turtle’s body and, when sufficient, may induce flipper and therefore swimming immobility. Hatchlings are attracted to tar balls. Once bitten, tar balls may arrest the beak and the oesophagus causing death (Lutcavage et al., 1997). Pesticides, heavy metals and PCB’s have been detected in marine turtles and their eggs (George, 1997; Storelli et al., 1998a; 1998b). Recent studies found that pollutants may affect a turtle’s reproductive success (Aguirre et al., 1994).
16. Environmental Contaminants Chemical contamination of the sea from sewage, agricultural runoff, pesticides, solvents, petroleum, etc. is widespread along the Mediterranean coast (Kaska et al., 2004). 17. Underwater explosion The use of underwater explosives may injure or kill turtles and degrade or destroy foraging habitat (Klima et al., 1988). 18. Predation Predation of hatchlings and young turtles is significant in the sea, unlike that of adults. Hatchlings entering the sea may be preyed upon by a variety of fishes and to a lesser extent by marine birds (Stancyk, 1982). Tiger sharks are the main predator of adults and juveniles (Stancyk, 1982), but there are no Tiger sharks in the Mediterranean Sea. In the Mediterranean, the monk seal was also recorded as an adult predator (Margaritoulis et al., 1996). 19. Disease and parasites Little information is available to assess the effects of disease and/ or parasites on marine turtle populations. Most reported diseases have been described in captive animals (Kinne, 1985). 20. Aquaculture Aquaculture activities utilise land along the sea beach (shrimp, brackish water fish farming) or shallow seabedâ€™s (for artificial reef, and other mariculture practices). Such intensive and uncontrolled aquaculture expansions along the coast have reduced sea turtle nesting and foraging habitats (Choudhury et al., 2003). South Lebanon Nesting Site Threats Checklist Table 5. Threats: 1 = major problem; 2 = minor problem; ? = unknown / not evident; - = not current problem; P = known problem but extent unknown Tyre (TCNR) Sector:
ON THE BEACH 1. Tourist development 2. Increased human presence 3. Artificial lighting/ photopollution 4. Vehicle use 5. Beach erosion 6. Beach Garbage
Ras el Ain (TCNR)
1 1 1
1 1 1
2 2 1
1 1 P
2 2 1
1 2 1
1 2 1
1 2 1
1 2 1
1 1 1
7. Recreational beach equipment 8. Predation 9. Flooding and inundation 10. Animal grazing AT SEA 11. Fisheries 12. Ghost gears 13. Turtle exploitation 14. Boat collisions 15. Pollution and marine debris 16. Environmental contaminants 17. Underwater explosions 18. Human predation 19. Disease and parasites 20. Aquaculture
1 1 -
1 1 -
1 1 P 1
2 1 1 -
P ? P P 1 P ? ? -
P ? P P 1 P ? ? -
P ? P P 1 P ? ? -
P ? P P 1 P ? ? -
P ? P P 1 P ? ? -
P ? P P 1 1 ? ? -
* Description of threats in Demirayak et al., 2003; Newbury et al., 2002 and St John et al., 2004. Detailed Beach Specific Information TYRE (TCNR) Status: protected area (by Law) Main turtle threats: Tourist development Increased human presence Artificial lighting/ photo-pollution Vehicle use on the beach Beach erosion Beach garbage Recreational beach equipment Flooding and inundation Environmental contaminants RAS EL AIN (TCNR) Status: protected area (by Law) Main turtle threats: Vehicle use on the beach Beach garbage Animal grazing ABBASSIEH Status: NOT protected Main turtle threats: Tourist development Increased human presence
Vehicle use on the beach Beach erosion Beach garbage Recreational beach equipment Predation Animal grazing Environmental contaminants El MANSOURI Status: NOT protected Main turtle threats: Tourist development Increased human presence Artificial lighting/ photo-pollution Vehicle use on the beach Beach erosion Beach garbage Recreational beach equipment Predation Flooding and inundation Environmental contaminants Underwater explosion II. RECOMMENDATIONS FOR POTENTIAL SOLUTIONS a. On land: 1. Tourist development 1.1 Protect and manage turtle nesting sites. 1.2 Declare Abbassieh and El Mansouri beaches protected areas. 1.3 Ensure coastal construction activities avoid disrupting nesting activities, through conducting an Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA). 1.4 Introduce a sustainable tourism development plan for the future that will not interfere with or affect the turtleâ€™s needs. 1.5 Encourage eco-tourism. 1.6 Develop near-shore sustainable landscape guidelines, recommending appropriate native vegetation plantation, not clearing native stabilizing beach vegetation and evaluating the effects as appropriate. 2. Increased human presence 2.1 Close the beach (Conservation Zone) at night during the nesting season. 2.2 Prohibit beach camping. 2.3 Set up an awareness programme directed at local people and local administration. 2.4 Cover over sand digging (sandcastles, etc.) daily during nesting season. 2.5 Prohibit near-shore speedboat and jet-ski use during the mating, nesting and hatching season (May-October). 2.6 Establish an Information Centre near the beach, that acts as:
a focal point for tourists and locals to inform and raise awareness of the importance of conserving marine turtles, distribute awareness material, report information concerning marine turtles and to display local wildlife specimens and childrenâ€™s works. 3. Artificial lighting/ Photo-pollution 3.1 Conduct a night survey to identify beach lights visible to the human eye at turtle level. 3.2 Quantify effects of artificial lighting on nesting females and hatchlings. 3.3 Evaluate need for lighting regulations. 3.4 Eliminate unnecessary light sources near the beach and reduce the number of light sources providing more than adequate illumination. 3.5 Provide solutions for correct light management (Annex â€“f). 3.6 Provide hotel owners, local municipality, etc. with guidelines for correct light management. 3.7 Regulate lighting necessary for safety or security. 3.8 Luminaries should not be directed onto the beach or onto objects visible from the beach, such as car parks, road lights, etc. 3.9 Provide light source shields: these should be completely opaque, sufficiently large, and positioned to prevent light from the shielded source from reaching the beach. Light shields can be fashioned from inexpensive, easily obtained materials (e.g. aluminium and galvanisedsteel flashing, plywood, opaque plastics). An effective, simple, and inexpensive way to shield luminaries with hemispherical globes is to line the inside of the seaward half of the globe with household aluminium foil (the foil is unlikely to remain on the outside of the globe). Shielding light by fastening tinted acrylic or acetate to luminaries or painting their globes are generally ineffective because these materials are insufficiently opaque. Tarpaper shields are effective for short periods only because they do not weather well. 3.10 Vegetation can block artificial lighting from the beach. 4. Vehicle use on the beach 4.1 Prohibit tractor and/ or other vehicle use on beaches throughout the year because they compact sand. Particular enforcement is needed during the nesting and hatching season. 5. Beach erosion 5.1 Do not compact sand on nesting beaches through vehicle use prior to the nesting season. 5.2 Forbid beach development, including infrastructures like football grounds. 5.3 Forbid mechanical beach cleaning. 5.4 Ban construction close to the beach. 5.5 Ban littoral vegetation cutting. 5.6 Forbid jetty or sea wall constructions in the sea
6. Beach garbage 6.1 Increase the number and size of rubbish bins on the beach. 6.2 Set up an awareness campaign. 6.3 Introduce a fining system. 6.4 Organize cleaning days throughout the season. 6.5 Set up beach cleaning that does not damage nesting habitat. 7. Recreational beach equipment 7.1 Stack beach equipment over night. 7.2 Limit sun bed, chair, and table numbers per kiosk. 8. Predation 8.1 Determine predator species and predation rates on nesting females and eggs and hatchlings for one season (minimum), before taking action. 8.2 Use of the term “predation” is often reported without specifying the event referred to. Categorizing predation into specific types would facilitate design allowing for the application of suitable conservation strategies, and determination of predatory species. Two types of predation must be distinguished between: nest predation during incubation (P) which is externally visible, and hatchling predation (PH) which is identified and distinguished from P, through the presence of neonate turtle hatchling tracks on the sand. 8.3 Initiate a “hatching-monitoring programme”: by positioning people beside every hatching nest during the evenings. A volunteer team (local people, students, International volunteers, etc.) should be trained and involved in this programme. Human presence near a nest deters dogs and other predators. Hatchling predation by crabs may be reduced if hatchlings are followed to the sea throughout the study period. Costs are low, but volunteer recruitment, training and coordination are necessary. A research team should have been working since the start of the season and should have identified oviposition dates and nest positions along the beach. 8.4 Individual nest protection and hatching monitoring may involve protecting the nests with cages or screens. It requires an information campaign to locals and tourists alike to avoid human disturbance, manpower and accurate nest mapping (by an expert). Costs involved are for enclosure materials and manpower. A research team should have been working since the start of the season, and should have identified oviposition dates and nest positions along the beach. 9. Flooding and inundation See # 5 9.1 Relocation of eggs higher up on their original beach (when laid too near the waterline).
10. Animal grazing 10.1 Forbid animal grazing on nesting beaches and sand dunes to avoid harmful impact on beach characteristics and sand dune vegetation. b. At sea 11. Fisheries 11.1 Establish a project to evaluate fisheries and turtle interactions or to estimate sea turtle mortality (direct and indirect). 11.2 Evaluate the areas fishing effort. 11.3 Suggest alternative measures to reduce mortality from the most threatening fishing methods. 11.4 Establish an education programme for fishermen. 11.5 Train fishermen in handling techniques (adopt â€œThe sea turtle handling guidebook for fishermenâ€?, edited by RAC/SPA, UNEP/MAP, Mediterranean region by Gerosa and Aureggi, 2001). 11.6 Ban fishing close to the shore (i.e. within 5 km of nesting sites) or establish no fishing zones during the nesting and hatching season. 11.7 Estimate the exploitation rate of sea turtles in fish markets. 11.8 Eliminate direct take of turtles and their eggs. 11.9 Reduce direct take of turtles and their eggs through public education, legislation and enforcement. 12. Boat collision 12.1 Ban water sport use, e.g. jet ski, speedboat, etc. within 5km of nesting beaches during the reproductive, nesting and hatching season. 12.2 Train a vet in marine turtle rescue and recuperation techniques. 13. Pollution and marine debris 13.1 Formulate and implement measures to reduce or eliminate marine debris, e.g. conduct beach cleanups. 14. Environmental contaminants 14.1 Monitor to estimate the impact of environmental contaminants on sea turtle populations. 14.2 Enforce laws and regulations. 14.3 Prohibit discharge of pesticides, heavy metals, sewage, etc. directly into the sea. 15. Underwater explosion 15.1 Ban the use of explosive methods. 15.2 Enforce control along nesting beaches.
16. Predation 16.1 Estimate predation rates at sea through monitoring and recording strandingâ€™s of both live and dead individuals. 17. Disease and parasites 17.1 Investigate parasites and other infectious agents and study their impacts on marine turtles. 18. Aquaculture 18.1 Delineation of proper aquaculture zones far away from important sea turtle nesting grounds to avoid sea birds feeding on rejects flying to nesting beaches to feed on hatchlings. 18.2 Ban the use of bright illuminations that reach seashores during nesting and hatching season. 18.3 Control chemical and effluent release from aquaculture farms and hatcheries into marine and coastal riverine systems. 5. REQUIREMENTS FOR HABITAT ENHANCEMENT OR PROTECTION IN THE TCNR All marine turtle species share a similar life cycle, linked to onshore and offshore coastal habitats. For this reason, they are important indicators of environmental impacts since their survival depends upon the health of these habitats (Chaudhury et al., 2003). Turtles spend the majority of their lives at sea but depend on land for reproduction, when females emerge periodically on beaches to lay their eggs. The nesting habitat must be protected to ensure future generations. The Lebanese coast shows an escalating degree of urbanization and tourist facility development on several coastal sites. After comparing past cartographic data with the modern-day situation, it becomes evident that several sandy coastal areas have disappeared (Demirayak et al., 2003). TCNRâ€™s nesting area represents an important site, as do Abbassieh and El Mansouri beaches, which are currently undeveloped. Sand dune protection and restoration of damaged and degraded areas should be considered as priority action. Sand dunes are an integral part of sedimentary coastlines, acting as a vast natural sediment bank. Erosion and deposition continually occur across the land-sea interface. When intact behind beaches, sand dunes form a barrier replacing eroded material and afford beaches protection. The higher relief of sand dunes behind nesting beaches, blocks light from nearby roads and development (Irvine et al., 2000). At TCNR, a preliminary study assessing the need of a dune restoration project should be conducted. The habitat has likely changed and degraded with time. An assessment of its condition should be conducted before any action is taken.
Preliminary study: − Land use changes: conduct analysis of aerial photographs or historical material to determine how the coastline was. − Land ownership: analyse how existing Lebanese law classifies sand dunes. − Set up a Pilot Monitoring Programme to investigate sand accumulation rates in some areas. Calibrated sticks can be placed at various sites along the beach to monitor sand accumulation throughout the year. − Assess the importance of the wetland behind the dune. − Survey of sand dune vegetation. Dune Restoration Project: − Apply sand-trapping fences, made of double layers of plastic netting (Irvine et al., 2000) where needed, according to the monitoring programme results. − Replant native sand dune vegetation. − Construct a wooden walkway. − Involve local people and authorities in this habitat restoration environmental management. 6. RECOMMENDATIONS FOR FUTURE ACTIONS 6.1 Designate Protected Areas including marine and terrestrial turtle habitats. 6.2 Compile a Marine Turtle Conservation National Action Plan with the objective to protect, conserve and manage marine turtles and their habitats in the Lebanon. Specific objectives: 6.2.1. Reduce direct and indirect causes of marine turtle mortality 6.2.2. Manage marine turtle nesting areas 6.2.3. Protect, conserve and rehabilitate marine turtle habitats 6.2.4. Research and monitoring 6.2.5. Increase public awareness and education 6.2.6. Improve national, regional and international cooperation 6.3 Coordination structure at National level 6.3.1 Establish a Sea Turtle Conservation Commission (STCC) within an Institution such as the Ministry of Environment or a University. Specific tasks of STCC: − compile marine turtle conservation national guidelines − issue permits for activities involving marine turtles − authorize marine turtle conservation activities according to National laws and International Conventions to which Lebanon is a signatory.
− authorize or provide permits to International scientists assisting and/ or training local bodies conducting marine turtle activities 6.3.2 Establish a Marine Turtle Monitoring Network along the coast − encourage information exchange − create a database − create a website for networking 6.4 Monitoring and Research − set up long term monitoring programmes on the main nesting sites (Abbassieh, Tyre, El Mansouri) to assess the conservation status of nesting populations − provide standard national methodologies − establish a national database − undertake genetic studies to identify population units − undertake detailed predation study − determine effects of factors such as tidal inundation, beach use of vehicles, etc. on hatching success − set up a tagging programme − determine distribution, abundance and status in the marine environment − determine adult migration routes and interesting movements through satellite tracking − identify foraging grounds − identify current or potential threats to adults and juveniles in their foraging grounds − study the impact of diseases (if any) on turtles − create a stranding network 6.5. Training − train personnel at regional and national levels in sea turtle monitoring methodologies − organize and implement training courses or workshops − encourage international exchange programmes − edit existing MEDASSET training manual and log sheet 6.6. Involve local communities − involve local people in monitoring activities − set up awareness campaigns − set up a beach Information Centre − set up school environmental education programmes − integrate information on marine turtles into public school curricula − organize teacher training − produce awareness materials
6.7. Enhance International Cooperation âˆ’ support existing international and regional Agreements and Conventions to ensure that turtles in all life stages are protected in the Mediterranean Sea âˆ’ develop new international agreements/ collaborations âˆ’ continue collaborating with International NGO researchers 7. CONCLUSION In Lebanon, several nesting areas have been declared protected (Palm Island and Tyre). Adequate protection to additional significant beaches: Abbassieh and El Mansouri, should be a priority. Although data collected during the 2004 survey is incomplete, hence, cannot provide a precise estimate of sea turtle populations or determine their status, it has shown the area to be important for Caretta and Chelonia at national and regional levels. Establishing long term monitoring programmes will provide valuable information useful in the creation of a National database and consequently to apply suitable conservation strategies at each site. The creation of a Sea Turtle Conservation Commission based in an institution such as the Ministry of Environment would ensure coordination and control of marine turtle related activities. Strategies and actions to mitigate escalating problems must consider the complex biology of turtle reproduction and also socioeconomic factors and political interests (Demetropoulos, 2001). International cooperation with NGOs, institutions, governments, etc., should be encouraged to enhance information exchange and collaboration.
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9. Photo Gallery.
Plate 1: Talk to beach kiosk owners to raise project awareness and ask for collaboration ÂŠ 2004 MEDASSET, Photo: M. Aureggi.
Plate 2: Children on the nesting beach learn aboutmarine turtles ÂŠ 2004 MEDASSET, Photo: M. Aureggi
Plate 3: Methodologies: Measuring marine turtle eggs in a nest ÂŠ 2004 MEDASSET, Photo: M. Aureggi
Plate 4: Measuring egg temperature ÂŠ 2004 MEDASSET, Photo: M. Aureggi
Plate 5: Cattle on the nesting beach ÂŠ 2004 MEDASSET, Photo: M. Aureggi
Plate 6: Sun loungers pose a barrier for a nesting female marine turtle ÂŠ 2004 MEDASSET, Photo: M. Aureggi
Plate 7: An Eastward drift from the whole Mediterranean washes garbage ashore reducing nesting site availability and hatching success ÂŠ 2004 MEDASSET, Photo: M. Aureggi
Plate 8: Vehicles on the nesting beaches compact sand reducing available nesting habitat, crushing nests and reducing hatching success by diverting hatchling access to the sea. ÂŠ 2004 MEDASSET, Photo: M. Aureggi