North Cyprus Travel Guide

North Cyprus travel guide

There are two species of marine turtles in Cyprus, the loggerhead and green turtles come to the North Cyprus beaches to lay their eggs every year

In 1992, the Society for the Protection of Turtles in North Cyprus invited staff and students from Glasgow University in Scotland to conduct a survey of the nesting beaches in North Cyprus. The project has conducted annual monitoring and conservation of turtle breeding habits every year since 1992.The main breeding beaches are in the Karpaz, Guzelyurt bay and on the north coast at Alagadi turtle beach. Just to the East of Kyrenia/Girne). In the Mediterranean, 300-400 Green Turtles and 2,000 Loggerhead turtles nest annually.

Marine turtles begin their lives on land, where they emerge from eggs, after 45-60 days of incubation in the sand. Upon reaching the sea, they swim frantically out to offshore waters where they remain for the rest of their lives, the only exception being when adult females come ashore to lay their eggs. It is estimated that only one hatchling in two thousand will survive to maturity. When they are 25-30 years old, and 1-2 meters in length, adult males and females migrate to waters off nesting beaches to feed and mate. During a nesting season a female lays 3-4 nests, each containing around 100 eggs. She may nest every 1-3 years usually returning to the same beach. Some theories suggest that turtles return to nest on the beach where they hatched. It is not known how long marine turtles live, but estimates are between 60 and 120 years.

An average of 40 students, postgraduates and staff come out each year for the period of the nesting and hatching season, and are based at Alagadi and at Akdeniz.  Increasing numbers of Turkish-Cypriots also participate.  A large part of the work involves monitoring all nesting beaches throughout the whole of the season from mid May until early October.  At Alagadi Beach, the main nesting site in North Cyprus, both nighttime and dawn beach surveys are conducted to assess nesting and hatching activity.  In addition to monitoring marine turtle activity, threats to nests, hatchlings, and adults are also assessed. While the loss of beach habitat as a result of mass tourism is a problem in many areas of the Mediterranean, for the moment at least, this is not a major threat to these turtle populations in North Cyprus, as there are many remote and unspoilt beaches remaining.

Every year the Society records an average of 200 female Green and Loggerhead turtles nested on beaches on the north and west coasts of North Cyprus.  57% of Green turtles and 38% of Loggerhead turtles nesting at Alagadi are re-migrant, a very high percentage in comparison with studies of other marine turtle populations in the world.  For many females this was the third or fourth season that they had been recorded nesting at Alagadi, and for one Loggerhead it was the fifth season.  Alagadi Beach is now a Specially Protected Area and also has an Information Centre where local citizens and tourists can obtain more information on the turtle populations. The best time to observe the nesting is at the end of June and beginning of July. August and September are the best months to observe hatching.

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