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marine park zante

Discover The Marine Park of Zante

THE MARINE PARK

Zakynthos’ Marine Park (in Greek Εθνικό Θαλάσσιο Πάρκο Ζακύνθου) was established in December 1999 and it was the first protected institutional area of Greece. The 135km² park includes the Gulf of Laganas up to Keri Lake and the islands of Marathonisi, Pelouso and Strofades. Home to between 900 and 2000 nests a year, the marine park is considered one of the most important nesting sites of the Caretta Caretta throughout the Mediterranean.

The Marine Park of Zakynthos is made up of 4 marine areas (A,B,C,D) and in addition to the turtles it is also home to some species of Monk Seals (Monachus Monachus). In order to protect these precious creatures and their habitat, strict restrictions are in place on professional and recreational fishing and motorised water sports. However, during the day you can discover the beauty of the area by sailing, swimming, snorkelling or scuba diving. Sailing is permitted with a speed of up to 6 nautical miles per hour, with mooring in area C.

map marine park zante

CARETTA CARETTA TURTLES

marine park caretta caretta turtles

The Caretta Caretta are reptiles measuring approximately 1 metre in length. Although they breath with their lungs, these turtles spend almost all of their life in the sea, feeding on jellyfish, molluscs and other invertebrates. They reach Zakynthos in early spring, mainly from the central Mediterranean where they spend the winter. The eggs are laid from the middle of May until the end of August.

The females go out at night on the beach and after choosing the right spot, dig a hole with their fins about 40-50cm deep. Here they lay an average of 120 eggs and this process is repeated 3-4 times during the summer. The eggs are the size of a ping pong ball with a soft shell, so as not to break. The incubation lasts from 42 to 70 days.

Interestingly, the sex of the newborn depends on the temperature of the sand: with a temperature of above 29°C females are born, while at lower temperatures males are born. The 5cm long babies come out of the sand primarily during the evening and with the help of the reflection of the moonlight in the water, find their way to the sea. During this journey from nest to sea, the turtles regulate their ‘magnetic compass’ thus it is essential that they make this journey alone, so that they can find their way back in the future to reproduce.

CARETTA CARETTA TURTLES

marine park caretta caretta turtles

The Caretta Caretta are reptiles measuring approximately 1 metre in length. Although they breath with their lungs, these turtles spend almost all of their life in the sea, feeding on jellyfish, molluscs and other invertebrates. They reach Zakynthos in early spring, mainly from the central Mediterranean where they spend the winter. The eggs are laid from the middle of May until the end of August.

The females go out at night on the beach and after choosing the right spot, dig a hole with their fins about 40-50cm deep. Here they lay an average of 120 eggs and this process is repeated 3-4 times during the summer. The eggs are the size of a ping pong ball with a soft shell, so as not to break. The incubation lasts from 42 to 70 days.

Interestingly, the sex of the newborn depends on the temperature of the sand: with a temperature of above 29°C females are born, while at lower temperatures males are born. The 5cm long babies come out of the sand primarily during the evening and with the help of the reflection of the moonlight in the water, find their way to the sea. During this journey from nest to sea, the turtles regulate their ‘magnetic compass’ thus it is essential that they make this journey alone, so that they can find their way back in the future to reproduce.

MONK SEAL

marine park monk seal mediterranean

One of the rarest species of marine mammals, the Mediterranean population of mature monk seals is thought to be around 350-450. They are in grave danger of extinction and today you can only find them in the north eastern Mediterranean area, in particular on the Greek coasts and in the Marine Park of Zakynthos. They rarely move away from the coasts, feeding on fish, lobsters and octopuses. Historically, the seals use the beaches to rest and give birth. Currently, human presence limits them to inaccessible coastal caves. In Greek waters they reproduce from August until December. Each female gives birth to a single baby that breastfeeds for 3-4 months. The Mediterranean seals become sexually mature at the age of 4, and they can live up to approximately 20 years old.

MONK SEAL

marine park monk seal mediterranean

One of the rarest species of marine mammals, the Mediterranean population of mature monk seals is thought to be around 350-450. They are in grave danger of extinction and today you can only find them in the north eastern Mediterranean area, in particular on the Greek coasts and in the Marine Park of Zakynthos. They rarely move away from the coasts, feeding on fish, lobsters and octopuses. Historically, the seals use the beaches to rest and give birth. Currently, human presence limits them to inaccessible coastal caves. In Greek waters they reproduce from August until December. Each female gives birth to a single baby that breastfeeds for 3-4 months. The Mediterranean seals become sexually mature at the age of 4, and they can live up to approximately 20 years old.

MARATHONISI ISLAND

marine park island of marathonisi

Marathonisi Island is the only island in the Marine Park accessible to the public, located a few miles from the coast and reachable thanks to the many excursions that leave from Laganas, Agios Sostis and Keri. Marathonisi island is also called the turtle island, due to its shape similar to the turtle. Here there are 5% of the nests and therefore access to the beach is controlled by WWF volunteers. There are 2 points where organized excursions stop, the white beach located to the south where smaller boats (up to 30 seats) and the white pebble beach located to the east, where larger boats stop (over 30 places) .

MARATHONISI ISLAND

marine park island of marathonisi

Marathonisi Island is the only island in the Marine Park accessible to the public, located a few miles from the coast and reachable thanks to the many excursions that leave from Laganas, Agios Sostis and Keri. Marathonisi island is also called the turtle island, due to its shape similar to the turtle. Here there are 5% of the nests and therefore access to the beach is controlled by WWF volunteers. There are 2 points where organized excursions stop, the white beach located to the south where smaller boats (up to 30 seats) and the white pebble beach located to the east, where larger boats stop (over 30 places) .

WATCH THE VIDEO OF ALL BEACHES IN ZAKYNTHOS

WATCH THE VIDEO OF ALL BEACHES IN ZAKYNTHOS