Esme of Kefalonia

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Esme swimming

Sea turtles are highly migratory animals that move between winter and summer foraging grounds throughout the year. While some turtles are known to be residents of certain areas, many migrate continuously. Turtles can show fidelity to certain foraging grounds and return to feeding grounds of high quality to ensure an ample food supply. Here in Kefalonia, we have many turtles that are seen yearly, either in our harbour or on the nesting beaches. By using techniques such as photographic identification (Photo ID) we are able to identify turtles to the level of the individual which opens up a number of data collection opportunities. This allows us to understand what turtles return every year, how long they stay for, and what regions they occupy when here.

Esme foraging in sea grasses

In 2019 we tagged a female loggerhead sea turtle (Caretta caretta) now called Esme. She was caught in the Argostoli Harbour to tag, measure, and take her photos which were added to the Photo ID catalogue to help us identify her if she returned in the future. Esme was not seen again that year. In 2020 Esme was not spotted in the harbour, although, we did identify her twice during snorkelling trips in areas close to some of our nesting beaches. Esme is both of nesting size and age so it is possible that she did indeed nest there but not something we can be sure of. During the time that we have spent on the harbour in 2021, we have spotted Esme again in the exact same location she was first seen in 2019.

Esme swimming in Kefalonia

Knowing that these turtles return to this little Greek island every year is fascinating. She may be here to mate, nest or just to feed and rest. We hope to find out more and to do so we hope to be able to increase our time spent at the harbour (COVID restrictions dependant) and surely see her again. Maybe she is one of the females that does use our beautiful Kefalonian beaches as a nesting site.

Written by Josh Witzmann

Tags: Kefalonia, loggerhead, Caretta caretta, winter, Argostoli, conservation, Wildlife Sense, female


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