Marine turtles are migratory, feeding in one place and migrating, often thousands of miles, to nesting sites where they breed and lay their eggs. The sea turtle nesting beaches in North Cyprus are identified, well studied and the most important beaches are protected. However, after turtles leave the nesting beaches and swim away, we have little idea where they go, yet these areas are where the turtles spend the majority of their lives. That was until the late 1990s when we begun to invest in satellite telemetry. The only way that we can track a sea turtle in the open ocean is to attach a transmitter and wait for uplinks to be received. If we can find out where the turtles migrate to, we can help to reduce the threats both at that location and along their migratory pathways.

Since 1998 over 60 satellite transmitters have been attached to marine turtles nesting in North Cyprus. From these studies, we now know that none of the turtles nesting in North Cyprus leave the Mediterranean and none are known to travel further West than Tunisia and Italy as adults i.e. they remain in the Eastern Mediterranean. The majority migrate to the North African coast where we have identified a number of foraging sites for both green and loggerhead turtles including the Nile Delta and Lake Bardawil in Egypt, the Gulf of Bomba in Libya and the Gulf of Gabes in Tunisia where many loggerheads nesting in Greece also forage. Less than 10% of those tracked actually stay in Cyprus post-breeding. Those that do stay off the island forage chiefly in Famagusta Bay and in Episkopi Bay.

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Main foraging sites of loggerhead turtles tracked from North Cyprus

Main foraging sites of loggerhead turtles tracked from North Cyprus

Migration routes of loggerhead turtles tracked from North Cyprus

Migration routes of loggerhead turtles tracked from North Cyprus