Caretta turtle nesting range expansion under climate warming: urgent actions to mitigate threats at emerging nesting sites in the Western Mediterranean

Caretta caretta turtle nests are increasing along the western Mediterranean coast.

Loggerhead turtles are expanding their nesting range into the Western Mediterranean, where beaches are becoming suitable through climate warming. Places not previously explored by sea turtles have now recorded a significant increase in the number of nests: during the last two seasons nests have increased from 12 to 146. Another significant number: about 100 nesting attempts were recorded, but unfortunately the Caretta caretta turtles were exposed to several threats such as light pollution.

Based on this data, the Life Turtlenest project, co-financed by the European Union’s LIFE programme and coordinated by Legambiente, will improve the conservation status of Caretta caretta, a priority species of the Habitats Directive. The envisaged actions are the establishment of an international network, the use of shared best-practice procedures specifically revised to mitigate the threats on emerging nesting sites, the capacity building of trained beach operators and managers, the identification of new index sites for monitoring, and the strengthening of the Natura 2000 network. Furthermore, an awareness campaigns for citizens and stakeholders will be aimed at increasing the knowledge of the presence of turtle nests and the social consensus towards policies for the protection of turtle nesting habitats.

The project will take place in 3 different countries: the regions bordering the Tyrrhenian Sea (Basilicata, Puglia, Campania, Sicily, Sardinia and Tuscany), the French region of Camargue, the Côte d’Azur and Corsica, and the Spanish regions of Catalonia, Murcia, Andalusia, the Balearic Islands and Valencia.

Mediterranean Sea will be monitored through the realization of a state of art predictive model incorporating physical, geomorphological and biological data obtained by project activities as a tool to evaluate changes in habitat suitability under current and future climatic scenario and to guide management decisions.

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