A meeting was held in Tirana on 2 May 2019 within the framework of the research project “Exploration of potential nesting sites & design of conservation measures for sporadic nesting in Albania “(2018-2019)that is implemented by MEDASSET in collaboration with Dr. Enerit Sacdanaku. The project is funded by the MAVA Foundation and is part of the regional initiative titled “Conservation of marine turtles in the Mediterranean Region”.
Dr. Sacdanaku presented the 2018 results of the project to Albanian environmental authorities that were represented by Mr. Zamir Dedej (Director of the National Agency for Protected Areas – AKZM) and representatives of the Regional Agencies of Protected Areas: Vlora (Nexhip Hysolakoj); Fier (Ardian Koçi); Durrës (Naim Herri); Lezha (Kristian Beqiri).
The research team is exploring all the sandy beaches of Albania in order to assess which beaches are suitable for sea turtle nesting. During the meeting, Dr. Sacdanaku and his team presented the traditional methods, but also the drone survey, that are used to create maps of the beaches and analyse key factors in determining the suitability of a beach to support viable nesting, such as elevation levels, compaction, sand and sea temperatures, human activities etc.
In total, 132 beaches were surveyed in 2018, of which 91 beaches were assessed as unsuitable for nesting. Data was collected at 49 sites and on further analysis one site was excluded due to substrata type and the remaining 48 sites were categorised as follows: 13 have low suitability; 18 have medium suitability; and 17 have high suitability for nesting.
The research project is also monitoring for signs of sea turtle nesting activity and disseminating an information hotline for the public to report any suspected nesting activity. Important sea turtle populations are known to use Albania’s coastal waters to feed and overwinter, but until 2018, when the first officially confirmed hatched nest was recorded at Divjaka beach, there were only a few anecdotal reports of sea turtle nesting.
Dr. Sacdanaku thanked the Director of the AKZM (Zamir Dedej), as well as the representatives of the Regional Agencies of the Coastal Protected Areas for their collaboration, which was renewed and strengthened during the meeting, for the implementation of the research project in summer 2019.
Dr. Enerit Sacdanaku, lead researcher, Tel.: +: 00355 68 41 03 150
Liza Boura, Programmes Officer, MEDASSET, Tel.: +30 210 3613572, [email protected]
Notes to Editors:
 Three of the seven species of sea turtles are found in the Mediterranean. The loggerhead (Caretta caretta) and green turtles (Chelonia mydas) nest here, and the huge leatherback (Dermochelys coriacea) is an occasional visitor. All species are included in the IUCN Red list of threatened species. Sea turtles are cold-blooded, air breathing, egg laying reptiles that spend their mysterious lives at sea but return each summer to the same area they were born to deposit their eggs in the sand. They take 20-30 years to mature and may live up to 100 years. Despite having travelled the world’s seas since the age of the Dinosaurs, their survival is threatened due to coastal development, pollution, collision with vessels, fisheries and climate change. Each summer sea turtles lay their eggs on sandy beaches in the east and south regions of the Mediterranean basin (mainly Greece, Turkey, Cyprus, etc). In the past years, a small number of sea turtle nests have been reported in Italy, Spain and other locations where nesting has not usually occurred in the past. This so-called “sporadic” nesting is of high scientific and conservation interest as it may indicate a possible shift in the nesting range of sea turtles towards the west and northern areas of the Mediterranean. Sea turtles are a highly migratory species and they may be responding to climatic changes by using new habitats to nest, feed and overwinter.
 MEDASSET has implemented the “Rapid Assessment Survey of important marine turtle and monk seal habitats in the coastal area of Albania” in 2005 and the project “Monitoring and Conservation of Important Sea Turtle Feeding Grounds in the Patok Area of Albania” during 2008-2010. Subsequently, in 2011, in close collaboration with the Ministry of Environment, MEDASSET prepared “Management Recommendations for Drini Bay” and the “Action Plan for the Conservation of Sea Turtles and their Habitats in Albania” which was adopted by the Minister of Environment in 2012.
 The project “Exploration of potential nesting sites & design of conservation measures for sporadic nesting in Albania “(2018-2019) is implemented by MEDASSET in collaboration with Dr. Enerit Sacdanaku. The project is funded by the MAVA Foundation within the framework of the regional project “Conservation of marine turtles in the Mediterranean Region” which is being implemented by ARCHELON, DEKAMER, MEDASSET, MedPAN, NMPZ, RAC/SPA (leader), WWF Greece, WWF Turkey.