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Running towards the sea


Less Plastic, more Life. Fighting single-use plastic to protect the Caretta caretta nesting ecosystem in southern Calabria

The Ionian coast of Calabria is the main nesting site for Caretta caretta turtles in Italy; as many as 60% of the nests found every year in our country are located in this stretch of coast. However, plastic pollution threatens this area and its ecosystems. In the Mediterranean Sea, 130,000 sea turtles die every year due to the ingestion of plastic and other waste. As if this isn’t enough, plastic changes the nesting beaches’ features, putting at risk the development of eggs, its hatching and the race of the young towards the sea. To fight this emergency and protect the turtles, we are committed to monitoring and protecting the nests, working in parallel on education and awareness-raising for students, citizens and tourists.

Plastic pollution threatens the survival of sea turtles, both on the beach and at sea. A recent study showed that 85% of turtles found along the Mediterranean coast contain plastic in the stomach. The disposal of waste in the regions of southern Italy is still a critical topic, in Calabria less than 1/3 is managed correctly. In addition, mountain streams drag large quantities of waste from the villages of Aspromonte onto the beach. The waste reaches the areas where the greatest number of nests of the Caretta caretta species are found, specifically, in the 40 km of wild beaches between Melito di Porto Salvo and Bianco.


With the project Less Plastic, more Life, supported by the European Outdoor Conservation Operation, we want to safeguard sea turtles by fighting plastic pollution and ensuring that the hatchlings can safely reach the sea. Thanks to the collaboration of Caretta Calabria Conservation, during the breeding season we can monitor the coast daily, to identify and protect the highest number of nests.
However, this is not enough. We want to inform and involve local communities with an awareness campaign on the effects of plastic pollution, promoting more environmentally friendly consumption habits.
Education plays a key role in shaping long-term changes. For this reason, we organize educational excursions on the beach for 250 students, so that children can learn more about local ecosystems and learn to love and protect them. To continue the journey also on the school desks, teachers and educators will be provided with a digital kit and training courses dedicated to the theme of marine litter.

 

Involving local fishermen and tourists in conservation activities is also essential. We work with fishermen through the organization of workshops on plastic pollution and the involuntary capture of turtles with fishing nets. For the tourists and nature lovers, we organize trekking activities on the beach to discover the coastal environment, with particular attention to the main threats to the Caretta caretta nests.

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