Over the past 30 years the increase in tourism here on the island has had a dramatic impact on the landscape. Where Zakynthos airport now stands was once a large lake where thousands of flamingoes from Africa migrated to every year. The most popular nesting beach on the island is now hardly a beach at all, it is completely unusable as a nesting beach and has been completely overrun by development. Increase in all inclusive hotels means all local restaurants, bars and taverns are suffering throughout the island. The pollution created on the island has also become a huge problem.
Lack of enforcement of protective legislation has lead to the suffering, disturbance and loss of sea turtles and many other animals. We often find tourists arrive on the island with absolutely no knowledge of the situation and what they can do to help. By talking to and educating visitors we are not only informing them of the situation but by advising them on beach regulations (knock down sandcastles, fill in holes, pick up litter and do not visit the beaches at night), suggesting sea turtle friendly alternatives to ruthless sea turtle spotting boat trips and providing information about sea turtles. We can help them to understand the importance of conservation and hopefully inspire them to help.
And it doesn’t stop here; the more awareness we can spread the more people will change their behaviour and attitudes. We teach them a lot of things while they are on holiday in Zakynthos, information that they can also take home with them and the next time they travel. Our education work doesn’t only help the sea turtles of Zakynthos, it can help endangered animals and the environment all around the world.
We are currently gathering signatures for a petition calling for an immediate review and amendment of the existing legislation regarding the protection of the natural flora and fauna of Zakynthos. We believe that the National Marine Park of Zakynthos are not doing their job properly; they consistently violate protocol that has been put in place to protect the wildlife of the island. We have tried to communicate with them on numerous occasions, but they remain insensitive to the repercussions of this crisis, and do not respond to calls to act upon and reverse the process of degradation of the most important sea turtle nesting habitat in the Mediterranean. Please take the time to sign this petition, as a review of this legislation with greatly help the Caretta caretta in Zakynthos.
Earth, Sea and Sky