Of the world’s seven species of sea turtle, the green turtle, (Chelonia mydas) and the loggerhead turtle (Caretta caretta) both lay nests in Cyprus.
Globally the green turtle is categorised as endangered and the loggerhead turtle as vulnerable by the IUCN Red List. In the Mediterranean both green and loggerhead turtles have distinct populations called Regional Management Units (RMU). The loggerhead turtle RMU/sub-population was in 2015 listed by the IUCN redlist as being of least concern. This is because, despite high rates of mortality in fisheries, conservation efforts at nest sites in Greece, Turkey and Cyprus have been fruitful and an overall trend in the number of nests laid annually is increasing.The loggerhead is the most abundant marine turtle species in the Mediterranean, with an estimated 2000-3000 females nesting annually. The main nesting concentrations are in Greece, Turkey and Cyprus and there are possibly significant nesting grounds in Libya. Minor nesting aggregations have been described in Egypt, Lebanon, Israel, Italy, Syria and Tunisia with some sporadic nesting being reported in the West Mediterranean in recent years.
Green turtle nesting is much more localised, with most nesting occurring in Turkey and Cyprus with small numbers in Israel, Egypt and Syria. The nesting population for the Mediterranean has been estimated at 300-400 females annually.
From our results since 1992, we estimate that 10% of the loggerhead and 30% of the green turtles nesting in the Mediterranean nest in Cyprus, highlighting the importance of both Ronnas Bay in Karpaz and Alagadi beaches as the 3rd and 5th most important nesting beaches of the green turtle in the entire Mediterranean.
Threats and Conservation Efforts
Whilst many nests successfully hatch, others fail completely. One of the major reasons for this is the high level of predation, mainly by foxes and dogs. A key aim of this project is to reduce the levels of predation by screening nests. Only a small fraction, perhaps 1 of 1000 hatchlings survive to reach adulthood, somewhere between 15 to 30 years after hatching. By protecting the nests and increasing the number of hatchlings that reach the sea we aim to boost the number of surviving adults in the future.