In Phase I of this project (2017-2020) SPOT undertook monitoring of all nesting beaches in the north Karpaz and south Karpaz SPAs. This monitoring was considered critical, because a recent Mediterranean-wide review of sea turtle research had highlighted a data gap for this area; the most recent published information was in 1999. The monitoring was undertaken in collaboration with the North Cyprus Department for Environmental Protection, who provided a base at Ronnas Bay in Karpaz, which was also expanded and improved using these funds.
We found that during three years of monitoring, on average, more than 600 green turtle nests were laid annually, with nearly half of those laid at Ronnas Bay. Those results reaffirmed Ronnas Bay as one of the most critical sites for the Mediterranean green turtle.
We also satellite tracked 19 nesting females and one male green turtle from Karpaz nesting beaches. We found that most of these individuals migrated to forage at Lake Bardawil in Egypt. The work underpins the critical importance of Bardawil for Mediterranean green turtles as the foraging site which is contributing most to recovery rates.
Some samples were also collected through this project which will be analysed by academics at DEKAMER and Pamukale University, to determine the connectivity between foraging sites and nesting sites via genetic and forensic studies.
Phase I also developed education, advocacy and awareness raising in Karpaz. In spring 2018 and 2019 SPOT gave classes to all high school and primary schools in the Dipkarpaz and Yeni Erenkoy Municipalities. In 2019, a huge beach clean was held with support of the TRNC Presidency, Ministry for Tourism and Environment, Ministry for Education, Civic Defence, Dipkarpaz and Yeni Erenköy Municipality and every school in the Iskele District. More than 500 school pupils attended, and many tonnes of marine debris were removed from the beach, in some areas heavy lifting gear was required to move decades worth of plastic.
We expanded ecotourism offering hatchling release events to the public at Ayfilon beach, and we put on two festivals on Dipkarpaz village in collaboration with the Municipality, initiating the annual SPOT Caretta Fest. The event provides a sustainable alternative model for summer festivals which are increasingly being established on and around sea turtle nesting beaches.
In phase two actions focus on:
In September 2021, Mayors and Municipal staff from seven coastal Municipalities were taken on an exchange visit to Çıralı to see a good example of Municipalities working together with coatal businesses, locals, and NGOs for the joint benefit a natire and local people.