June 16th is dedicated to the importance of sea turtles around the world. MEDASSET pays tribute to these emblematic species for marine ecosystems and biodiversity by launching its field surveys in Albania and the Greek North Aegean coasts. Surveys are taking place in the framework of the Mediterranean project “Conservation of Marine Turtles in the Mediterranean Region” that is funded by the MAVA Foundation.
Research in Greece aims to fill a knowledge gap concerning beach suitability for sea turtle nesting along the North Aegean coasts and will investigate the possible shift in the range of sea turtles in response to climatic change. To collect necessary data, the research team is using traditional methods together with a research drone with specialised software, as well as water and sand temperature loggers. Surveyors shall cover mainland coasts from Thessaly to Alexandroupoli, as well as the North Aegean islands (Skiathos, Skopelos, Alonnisos, Thasos, Samothrace, Lemnos, Lesvos, Chios and Agios Eftratios). The survey is building on MEDASSET’s past survey that was implemented in the same area in 1991 by Dr. Max Kasparek.
In Albania, MEDASSET’s long-term work continues, with the valuable collaboration of Dr. Enerit Sacdanaku and of the Albanian environmental authorities. This year our research efforts concentrate on the sea turtle populations in Drini Bay that was previously established as a foraging and overwintering marine area in the Mediterranean thanks to systematic research by MEDASSET. The year-round survey focuses on monitoring sea turtle behaviour in the marine area through a drone survey and collection of samples in order to genetically identify the populations present in Drini Bay. Additionally, MEDASSET will carry out capacity building activities for protected area staff and assist in the set up of an official national stranding monitoring network.
The EU 2030 Biodiversity strategy sets specific goals for the conservation of the species and the ecosystems. The rise of the pandemic proves the need for increased efforts in preserving Europe’s natural heritage. The ecological role of sea turtles for marine ecosystems and the need for efficient conservation elevates the importance of survey efforts, leading to efficient protection.
Notes to Editors:
 The project “Conservation of Marine Turtles in the Mediterranean Region” is funded by the MAVA Foundation and is implemented in thirteen Mediterranean countries (Greece, Turkey, Albania, Algeria, Egypt, Morocco, Libya, Lebanon, Cyprus, Tunisia, Italy, Spain and France) by nine direct partners: ARCHELON , DEKAMER, National Marine Park of Zakynthos , MEDASSET, MedPAN, SPA/RAC , WWF Greece, WWF Tunisia, WWF Turkey. The project activities started in June 2017 and will continue until October 2022.
 For more information on the results of the first phase of the project in Albania: www. medmarineturtles.org/news/52-press-release-officials-and-experts-meet-to-discuss-research-results-on-sea-turtle-nesting-in-albania
 MEDASSET implemented the “Marine Turtles in Greece: Results of a survey of potential nesting beaches in the Northern Aegean Sea” in 1991 as requested by ECC, with Dr. Max Kasparek as the lead surveyor.
Subsequently, MEDASSET undertook the project “Increasing knowledge on migration routes and foraging sites in the Northern Aegean Sea (Greece)“ (2019-2020) with I. Giovos and N. Doumpas, as part of the project “Conservation of Marine Turtles in the Mediterranean Region’. The current survey on sporadic nesting continues research work in North Aegean coasts under the same framework.
 With roots back to 1983, MEDASSET was founded in 1988 in the UK and in 1993 in Greece. It is an international NGO registered as a not-for profit organisation in Greece. MEDASSET plays an active role in the study and conservation of sea turtles and their habitats throughout the Mediterranean, through scientific research, environmental education, advocacy and awareness raising. The organisation is a partner to the United Nations Environment Programme’s Mediterranean Action Plan (UNEP/MAP) and a Permanent Observer-Member to the Bern Convention, Council of Europe, since 1988.