Thursday, January 29, 2009

Turtles of North Cyprus

Offshore, the famous sea turtles of North Cyprus mingle with a fantastic range of fish that draw divers from around the world. These splendid creatures come ashore on the golden beaches in May to lay their eggs, about 40 cm down, before carefully re-covering them with sand and heading back out to sea. Then, two months later, in July, baby turtles hatch through their leathery eggs and dig their way to the surface before scuttling out to sea to meet their parents.

Modern developments have driven the turtles from all but a few of their nesting sites in the rest of the Mediterranean, but the quieter bays of North Cyprus and the Turkish shoreline offer breeding sanctuaries for the 300 green turtles and around a thousand loggerhead and caretta caretta turtles that live in the region. It is impossible not to be in awe of these fantastic creatures and the beauty of their natural habitat.

Turtle Watching on Alagadi Beach

Indeed, as well as nesting on approximately 88 sandy beaches around Girne, on the Karpaz Peninsula and Gazima─čusa Bay, Alagadi Turtle Beach, east of Girne, is dedicated a specially protected area for these endangered Green and Loggerhead Turtles. The Ministry of Environment of North Cyprus works together with The Centre for Ecology and Conservation at The University of Exeter in Cornwall to monitor these creatures and work for their survival. The Society for the Protection of Turtles (SPOT) also works with teams from British universities to study nesting sites and release baby turtles securely into the sea at this “Turtle HQ”. You too can watch and help the turtles at Alagadi beach, join the SPOT team on their nightly surveys of hatching activity

Turtle Protection in Northern Cyprus

In an effort to protect the turtles, the Department of Environmental Protection has introduce measures between the months of May to October, prohibiting access to any beach between 10pm and 8am, as well as forbidding fires or lights on the beach and use of a speedboat within one mile of the shoreline. These safety measures also warn against throwing plastic bags into the sea, as the turtles can mistake them for jellyfish and die as they try to eat them.

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