EU PROTECTS > Our Environment > A safety net for sea turtles: How the EU is helping protect our marine ecosystems

“Sea turtle conservation is about preserving this endangered species and its critical role in the healthy marine ecosystems we all depend on.”


In the Mediterranean and Adriatic seas, sea turtles play a vital role in marine ecosystems. They help maintain healthy sea grass beds and transport essential nutrients to the shore. These majestic creatures have always been vulnerable to predators, but today’s threats come in the form of fishing nets, boat propellers and pollution. 

Researchers, NGOs and volunteers across Europe are working hard to protect sea turtles – together they monitor and raise awareness about sea turtle populations and intervene when they are in danger. 

EU funding for sea turtle conservation is about protecting the future of our seas and our planet. 

A safety net for sea turtles: How the EU is helping protect our marine ecosystems

Sea turtles have inhabited Earth for around 100 million years and are vital to the health of our seas. The EU is supporting researchers from across the continent to track their movements and protect creatures that are increasingly under threat.

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Paolo Casale

University of Pisa


“We monitor sea turtles at feeding and nesting areas along Europe’s coasts. EU financial support really helped us study a species that is essential to the marine ecosystem."

“No other project on this issue truly unites researchers from different European countries in this way.”








“You cannot protect the turtle population without understanding their movements.”

 - Paolo Casale

Dr. Draško Holcer

Croatian Natural History Museum


“The northern Adriatic is a key feeding area for sea turtles. With EU support, we are finding ways to use LED lights as a tool to mitigate sea turtle capture in fishing nets.”

"We want to promote this technology among fishermen, along with other conservation measures in the area.” 



“Many fishermen understand that the sea turtles need our help.”

 - Dr Drasko Holcer

Eirini Kasimati

ARCHELON – Sea Turtle Protection Society of Greece


“There is a phone number people can call when an injured turtle is found – we’re on the line 24/7.” 

“The turtle is brought here to the rescue centre by bus, ferry or sometimes even by plane.”





“The turtles sometimes stay with us for a couple of months, or even a year.”

 - Eirini Kasimati

Andreas Demetropoulos

Cyprus Wildlife Society


“My interest in sea turtles started back in the 1970s. It was love at first sight! Our project started off with a small team, the first of its kind in the Mediterranean. I think turtle conservation is important, and is a key part of the global efforts to conserve biodiversity.”







“Since 2012, we have seen many more turtles nesting in Cyprus.”

 - Andreas Demetropoulos

Did you know?


The number of sea turtles caught up in fishing nets in the Mediterranean sea each year.


The number of kilometres a female turtle may travel every 2-3 years to get back to the beach where she hatched as a baby. And it’s on this very same beach that she lays her own eggs as an adult.


True to its name, this EU project is a joint effort to secure the future of sea turtles in the East Mediterranean (involving 6 EU countries – Italy, Malta, Slovenia, Croatia, Greece, Cyprus), led by the Croatian Natural History Museum and supported by organisations like ARCHELON.

Do not disturb

The EU’s Natura 2000 network designates and protects areas throughout Europe, in order to ensure the long-term well-being of Europe's most endangered species and their habitats. The network includes the beaches in the East Mediterranean – which are the breeding grounds for Loggerhead turtles.

Lifeline for our seas

The EU has co-funded  120 projects, mobilising €320 million funds, on the health of our seas and oceans.

Protecting rare species

With funding from the EU, the International Union for Conservation of Nature has drawn up a European Red List of endangered European species so that appropriate conservation action can be taken to improve their status.


Some of them may even come from your country.

Connected by the EU, there is a network of local heroes working together to help protect us from environmental threats, pollution, the loss of endangered species and more. From conservationists to customs officers, food safety officers to flood response teams, discover how the EU supports local heroes in your country.