Caretta Caretta (Loggerhead) in Cyprus

Caretta Caretta

It is a large turtle similar to the green turtle (Chelonia mydas), with a relatively larger head. Its colour is reddish brown or brown, attaining a shell length of about 0.7-2.1 m. It usually weights about 135kg, but larger specimens weighing up to 400 kg have been recorded. It is found in all oceans of the world; is a carnivorous reptile with a reportedly bad disposition.

In 1992, Glasgow University was invited by the Society for the Protection of Turtles in North Cyprus (KKKD/SPOT) to conduct a survey of the marine turtle nesting beaches on the coast of North Cyprus. Each year since, a team of students and staff from Glasgow University have been involved in the monitoring of the nesting and hatching activities of these endangered turtles. In the Mediterranean there are estimated to be only 300-500 green and 2,000 loggerhead females nesting annually. With such low numbers, it is crucial that all remaining nesting beaches are monitored and protected so that these endangered species avoid extinction.

The 1995 season has been by far the most successful since the project began in 1992. Over 80 beaches were monitored from the end of May until the beginning of October. The team recorded a total of 2,473 nesting activities (461 of them green turtle and 519 of them loggerhead.)

It is estimated that each female lays an average of three nests in any season, with each female nesting every of two to three years. From these figures we can estimate that in 1994 there were populations of 154 green turtles and 173 loggerheads nesting on the shores of North Cyprus. This therefore indicates that approximately 30 per cent of the green and 9 percent of the loggerhead turtles in the Mediterranean may nest on the beaches of North Cyprus. For both species, but in particular the green turtle, North Cyprus is therefore an extremely important nesting site internationally - and, In particular, regionally. The protection of these species in the Mediterranean.

Of the nests laid, 402 (41 per cent) were recorded as hatched and 344 (35 per cent) predated. Many do not hatch due to unsuitable incubation conditions. At hatching, nests are excavated to avoid subsequent predation.

More than 3,00 hatching were liberated into the sea . If any hatching were not yet vigorous enough for the sea they were kept in follow-on accommodation until fully developed. Several nests were transplanted due to unsuitable nesting conditions - for example laying too close to the water, which may lead to flooding of the nest - and subsequently hatched successfully.