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.