Sea Turtles of Cyprus

Sea Turtles

As you travel to Northern Cyprus, you may be interested to know that it hosts some of the most important turtle nesting beaches in the Mediterranean. Both species of turtle that nest in Northern Cyprus are endangered species. Approximately 10% of the loggerhead and 30% of the green turtles in the Mediterranean nest in Northern Cyprus. Considering that as few as 300-400 green and 2000 loggerhead turtles are estimated to nest each year in the entire Mediterranean, it is crucial that we all do our bit to protect them.

Marine turtles begin their lives on land, where they emerge from eggs, after 45-60 days incubation in the sand. On 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 in the region of 60-120 years.

Sea Turtles

Two species of marine turtle nest on Mediterranean beaches, the loggerhead, Caretta caretta, and the green turtle, Chelonia mydas. Both of these nest in Northern Cyprus. The total Mediterranean populations of these two species are estimated at 300-400 green and 2000 logghead females nesting annually. It possible b estimate how many males a juveniles there are. These species are both endangered, especially the green turtle, with Cyprus and Turkey being the only known nesting sites. In 1991, with increasing awareness of the plight of marine turtles in the Mediterranean, the Society for the Protection of Turtles in North Cyprus contacted Glasgow University for assistance. This resulted in the Glasgow University Turtle Conservation Project initiated in 1992. Student volunteers work alongside volunteers from these non-governmental organizations and the local Department of Environmental Protection. Throughout the coastline N. Cyprus 80 beaches are monitored from may through until October since m sandy beaches support some turtle activity.

On the beaches at Alagadi, (10 miles east of Girne/Kyrenia), nightly patrols arke carried out enabling detailed information about biology of these species to be collected. q nesting season in N. Cyprus runs from] May until early August with hatching occurring from late July until late September.

Vital Statistics
Age at maturity 25-50years
Life-span Up to 100 years
Length Loggerheads: 80 - 100 cm
Greens: 100 - 120 cm
Weight Loggerheads: 50 - 100 kg
Greens: 70 - 150 kg
Number of eggs/clutch Loggerheads: 50 - 100
Greens: 100 - 150

When to see marine turtle in Cyprus
Mating May/June
Nesting June/July
Hatching Aug/Sep

Where to see marine turtle in Cyprus
You may see turtles whilst swimming or boating. You can also visit the MTCP at
Alagadi, where a limited number of places are available to see nesting turtles at night.