Monday, 10 July 2023
For just the second time, a loggerhead sea turtle has chosen to nest on a Costa del Sol beach. The nesting habit was unheard of decades ago, but it is starting to become more regular, and climate change is believed to be the reason.
The female turtle laid and buried 69 eggs during the early hours of Friday 7 July on the Nueva Andalucía beach in Marbella, according to the town's mayor, Ángeles Muñoz. Nine of the eggs have been transferred to the Bioparc zoological centre in Fuengirola for monitoring.
The discovery was made thanks to a resident, who was walking with his dog in the area at 4am on Saturday 8 July, spotted the turtle and alerted the police. The nesting area has been cordoned off and is being guarded by Local Police, environmental officers and volunteers.
"It is an exceptional event, this is the thirteenth at a national level," environmental experts told SUR. The eggs have been laid at just 30 centimetres beneath the sand, which makes them extremely vulnerable and in need of protection.
This Monday, 10 July, Marbella town council launched a volunteer programme for the protection of the eggs, which will take between 45 and 60 days to hatch.
The baby turtles are therefore expected to hatch at the end of August or early September, and until then, there will be 24-hour guards to protect the nesting area.
The temperature will be monitored daily and, if necessary, a shading screen will be installed so that the temperature does not rise excessively, and harm the hatchlings. The nest is far enough away from the water where waves cannot damage it.
Experts warned that, after a successful nesting, the turtle may come back and lay another clutch in a place close to the current location. "This will not be the only laying we have this summer in Spain; when turtles need to lay, they do," López Jaime said.
Apparently due to climate change, certain populations of loggerhead turtles, which are a migratory species, moved five years ago and began to form their nests in areas of the Mediterranean that are now warmer. They stopped nesting in areas of Africa (such as the Sahara and Cape Verde), where they would typically nest as the climate had become too hot for the eggs to thrive.
The last time a turtle laid eggs on a Malaga beach was in August 2020, when another specimen (it is not known if it is the same one) laid its eggs in Fuengirola. However the eggs were transferred to Cabopino in Marbella due to the poor condition of the beach in Fuengirola. On the night of 22 September the eggs began to hatch. Of the 72 eggs laid, 60 hatched. The hatchlings, including those that were initially taken to the Bioparc incubator, were transferred to the Andalusian marine environment management Centre (CEGMA) in Algeciras.
They remained there for a year until they were ready to return to their natural environment.
At the time, the nesting of this endangered species on a beach in Malaga was seen as an extraordinary event, although experts had already predicted that these would be common in the near future.
Since 2001 the nesting sites have been advancing southwards. The first ones appeared on the Catalan and Levante coasts and, more recently, in Almeria. With climate change, these occurrences will become more common.
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