Zoe, the Loggerhead turtle with a GPS transmitter during her release in May of 2019.
ZOE, the Mykonian
In September of 2018, northern winds were blowing when a Loggerhead turtle was floating on the sea surface in north-western Naxos.
An amateur fisherman found the Loggerhead turtle off Grotta beach, who tried in vain to dive. The association of Naxos Wildlife Protection was informed and, the sign that the sea turtle could not dive indicated buoyancy issues and so the fisherman was guided on how to collect the sea turtle safely and bring her to the port of Naxos.
On the 5th of September, 2018, the female sea turtle named ZOE was examined. The accumulation of barnacles on her carapace, plastron as well as her head and flippers was an indication of bad health for a long time.
The poor Loggerhead turtle received first aid care, fluids and rest and the next day she was transferred via ferry to the Rescue Center of ARCHELON in Athens.
There, the examination showed that Zoe was suffering from lung infection and remained the winter at the Rescue Center, since the waters of Greece become cold for sea turtles to be safely released.
As we waited for the sea temperature to rise, Zoe rested in Athens under the care of ARCHELON’s volunteers.
In the meantime, the association of Naxos Wildlife Protection started the procedure of obtaining a GPS transmitter for Zoe, with the generous funding of Cyclades Preservation Fund.
In May of 2019, two volunteers of ARCHELON accompanied Zoe back to Naxos where she would be released, now equipped with a GPS transmitter which would provide us data on her movements and health condition.
Zoe was the first sea turtle released by Naxos Wildlife Protection with a transmitter.
On the 30th of May, a crowd gathered on Agios Prokopios beach, residents of the island as well as visitors, schools and representatives of the local authorities and Cyclades Preservation Fund. Even the fisherman who had rescued Zoe attended the release with his family.
When Zoe was placed on the sand, she simply raised her head as if to make sure she was free to return home and then, without hesitation, crawled into the crystal clear waters.
The first night, Zoe headed west towards the island of Paros and two days later her GPS transmitter showed a straight course north towards Mykonos island.
And this is where Zoe spent all summer!
It was concluded that, most probably, Zoe initially came from Mykonos when she had been found sick floating and the northern winds had carried her southwards towards Naxos.
Although Loggerhead turtles are considered a migrating species, it is not the first time we observe an individual showing a preference to a specific area. Zoe’s data proved that an adult Loggerhead turtle could reside in the Aegean sea year-round.
One year after her release in May of 2020, Zoe showed for the first time that she was traveling, specifically covering an area approximately 1/3 of the Aegean sea, reaching Chios in the east and Evia and Kithnos in the west. This took place during end of May-beginning of June of 2020, which coincides with mating season for Loggerheads in the Aegean sea.
Although Zoe is not a resident of Naxos island and we do not have the ability to watch her from up close, her transmitter provided us with valuable information, not only on her movements, but also on her safety from human activities.
We will keep observing and following Zoe through her transmitter for as long as the program allows it and we hope she will keep away from harm!
“The love for all living creatures is the most noble attribute of man.”– Charles Darwin