Following reports that a loggerhead turtle might have nested again at Golden Bay, Nature Trust Malta (NTM‐FEE) has confirmed the nesting with the collaboration of different individuals and private entities. Environment and Resources Authority (ERA) officers also went on site to cordon off the Area and are monitoring the situation.

ERA is also assessing the situation to decide on immediate measures that are to be put in place to ensure that the nest is not endangered in any way. ERA will therefore work in close collaboration with Nature Trust Malta (NTM‐FEE); the Majjistral Park; the Ministry for the Environment, Climate Change and Planning (MECP); and other public and private entities, as applicable.

An Emergency Conservation Order will be issued by ERA to ensure more direct protection to the nesting area. As for other nesting cases in the Maltese Islands and the world, excessive noise and trampling in the nesting area and unnecessary artificial lighting in the area pose a danger to turtle eggs and any hatchlings.

The Environment and Resources Authority notes that this is the second reliably confirmed nesting of loggerhead turtle this year. This further nesting episode in Golden Bay is interesting as it comes four (4) years after the 2016 episode. Such increased nesting records may be due to increased site fidelity in sea turtles in relation to Maltese shores, marking a positive indication towards a more permanent comeback of this species in terms of loggerhead turtle nesting in Malta.

Indeed, recent studies carried out by ERA have confirmed that the loggerhead turtle is currently at a favourable conservation status and improving in the Maltese Islands and, whilst acknowledging that more long-term monitoring is required, the abundance and distribution of this species in Malta seems to be indicative of long-term viability. This is possibly also due to increased protection in Malta and the Mediterranean, as well as rehabilitation programmes for injured and stranded turtles being undertaken in the Mediterranean region, including Malta. In Malta such work is coordinated by Nature Trust Malta (NTM‐FEE) with Environment & Resources Authority, as the competent authority, which also sponsors and finances such rehabilitation activities by Nature Trust Malta (NTM‐FEE).

ERA is calling for the public’s collaboration in reducing impacts to such nests and that any observations of any environmental illegality or turtle activity should be immediately reported to ERA on 9921 0404 or ced.nature@era.org.mt.
Note on the species: The loggerhead turtle (Maltese: il-fekruna l-komuni), scientifically known as Caretta caretta is a long-living, slowly maturing marine species that inhabits tropical to warm temperate areas. This species is classified as globally endangered by the World Conservation Area (IUCN) and is also protected by various national and international legislation. Capturing, killing, taking, and trading these turtles, as well as the deliberate disturbance of these species, particularly during the period of breeding, rearing and migration, is prohibited and subject to legal action. Even the destruction of eggs or taking of eggs from the wild is strictly prohibited and constitutes a criminal offence. In fact, the national ‘Flora, Fauna and Natural Habitats Protection Regulations’ impose a minimum fine of nearly €500 and going up to nearly €2400 for each egg that may be destroyed or taken from the wild. The area where the loggerhead turtles has laid its eggs is also a protected area under the Environment Protection Act (Cap. 549) and a Natura 2000 site through the EU Habitats Directive.

For further information, please refer to era.org.mt 

5 July 2020