Since 1992 a marine turtle conservation and monitoring project has been conducted on the beaches of Northern Cyprus. Here the endangered green (Chelonia mydas) and loggerhead (Caretta caretta) turtles nest. This is a very well established project conducting excellent research and providing invaluable experience for under-graduate students. Each year self-funded volunteers work on this project. This project is carried out in the northern part of the island inhabited by Turkish Cypriots. They are an incredibly friendly nation and it is an extremely safe place to stay.
MTCP aims to minimise the threat of introduced canine (stray dog and fox) predators by screening all nests with protective cages. SPOT works to protect the nesting beaches themselves from human threats, by delivering information to and working with authorities to protect key sites. We encourage local artisanal fishers to minimise the mortality rate of sea turtles that get caught in their fishing gear, by distributing materials to them on appropriate sea turtle handling and by developing and encouraging alternative methods. MTCP provide annual data on the status of sea turtles and their habitats in North Cyprus and University of Exeter produce a comprehensive range of research outputs on Mediterranean sea turtles. SPOT promotes education in schools and delivers classes each year on sea turtle conservation. We also organise field trips for school groups.
The project is a collaboration between the University of Exeter’s Marine Turtle Research group (MTRG) which has established and collaborated with numerous monitoring and research projects around the world, and the Society for the Protection of Turtles in Northern Cyprus (SPOT).
The project is led by Meryem Özkan under the guidance of Prof. Annette Broderick, Prof. Brendan Godley, Dr. Robin Snape and the chair of SPOT Kutlay Keço.
During the last decade, the numbers of green and loggerhead turtles nesting on the beaches monitored by MTCP has been consistently increasing, which is an indication that our conservation efforts are paying off. As a result of our efforts, five Natura 2000 Specially Protected Areas have been designated and everyone on the island knows that sea turtles are under protection.