Conservation Efforts Pay Off for Turtles

Conservation Efforts Pay Off for Turtles
Conservation Efforts Pay Off for Turtles

It has been another encouraging year for turtles in Cyprus, with the number of nests this year at around 1,600 so far, founder and co-head of the turtle conservation program under the island's fisheries and marine research department Andreas Demetropoulos said on Monday. The number is still growing but already far exceeds last year's 1,100, Cyprus Mail reported. This is due to the work the conservationists did 20 to 30 years ago, he said, as this is how long it takes for the endangered Loggerhead and Green turtle to reproduce.

When the program started, there were just 300 nests, and numbers are still growing.

"The best year was three years ago, in 2016, with 1,800 nests," Demetropoulos said. "The numbers fluctuate but they are still going up." One of the reasons for the success is that the nesting grounds are now protected from foxes, as cages are placed around them.

Another is that two large areas which are their habitat at Lara and Toxeftra beaches have been protected since 1989, whereas in the past visitors would confuse and disturb the turtles by camping and lighting fires.

In March this year, a 24-hour hotline was made available for those who find injured, sick or dead sea turtles by the Oceanic Institute of the University of Cyprus to help improve the reptiles' management and protection. According to the fisheries department, injured turtles are taken to the marine research center of Cyprus, where they are treated and released back into the sea.

Green turtles reproduce almost exclusively in Cyprus and Turkey. There are only about 1,500 female Green turtles that lay eggs in those two countries. The Loggerhead or Caretta also breeds in Greece and in smaller numbers in other Mediterranean countries. The number of females is around 6,000.

Both are protected by the European Union's habitat directive.


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