Greece’s top sea turtle protection society, Archelon, reports that it has already found loggerhead sea turtle nests on Zakynthos and Crete islands, most likely driven by climate change induced higher land and sea temperatures, which is the earliest recording of nests on record.

According to an announcement on their website, volunteers went out to beaches that they commonly monitor for Greece’s famous Carretta Caretta sea turtle nests to prepare for the season and were shocked to find that some nests had already been laid.

The volunteers monitor the beaches from May until October and have found nests on Sekenia beach, located in the National Marine Park of Zakynthos and in the Nature Protection Area of Kyparissia Bay in northern Crete, Rethymno.

The non-profit reports that scientists have been expecting a shift in egg-laying season and keeping watch for such a change since 2016, as an adaptation mechanism to increasing land-sea temperatures.

It is yet unknown what additional impact higher temperatures will have on sea turtle populations, as “an increase in temperatures prevailing inside the nest during incubation can […] lead to the birth of more female and male turtles, which can affect populations and their survival,” explains Archelon.

Archelon’s researchers and volunteers have been monitoring beaches and recording their findings on Zakynthos, Crete and the Peloponnese since 1984.