9am - 10pm
Turtle hatching in Northern Cyprus…
Experience the once-in-a-lifetime pleasure of watching turtles hatch, or a mother turtle heading up the beach in the middle of the night and burying her eggs in the sand.
Watch the start of a new life…
Together with other Mediterranean islands and the coastline of Turkey, various conservation sites have been set up to protect the two species of turtles that nest in the sand of the North Cyprus beaches to continually monitor the turtles during the laying and hatching seasons. The Loggerhead Turtle (Caretta caretta), and The Green Turtle (Chelonia mydas) both lay their eggs in nests, which you will find all along the Cyprus coast, especially East of Kyrenia, in the soft sand of Alagadi beach, as well as the stunning Golden beach in the Karpaz peninsula and The Akamas peninsula in the south.
The female turtle, otherwise known as the 'hen turtle', will lay between 70 and 150 eggs between late March and early June. The eggs are laid in warm sand, and the period of time before they hatch depends on the temperature, with the peak hatching time between July and August, when the weather is warmest. One of the most fascinating things is that instinctively, a female turtle returns to the beach where she was born to lay her eggs, even if that means travelling thousands of miles to the exact spot.
The baby turtles hatch at night and make their difficult journey to the sea. They are born at night, as this offers them the greatest protection from predators, but even so the infant mortality rate is extremely high. The baby turtles are hunted by predators on land as well as in the sea, as they provide a tasty snack for large fish.
The Loggerhead turtles live on a diet of jellyfish, molluscs, squid and flying fish and strangely, they appear to be immune to the toxins of the Portuguese Man o’ War. The Loggerhead turtles have very powerful jaws, which allow them to crush and eat crabs, clams, and mussels.
Loggerhead turtles can have very long lives, if they are fortunate enough to reach adulthood, they can live well in excess of 30 years.
The Green Turtle, is actually named not from the colour of its shell, but from the colour of its fat beneath the skin. They are actually a herbivorous animal, unlike the Loggerhead, and feed on sea grasses and other plants in the shallows and lagoons. They are known to travel vast distances between feeding areas and have an approximate life span of around 80 years.
In years gone by, the Loggerhead turtle was hunted for its shell, which was used to make combs, glasses frames and fancy boxes. The Green Turtle was previously killed for their flesh and also their eggs, which were a delicacy. They are both now an endangered, and therefore protected species, making the conservation efforts all the more important. The biggest threat to the turtles are fishing trawlers, as the turtles can get caught up in the nets and also the destruction of their natural habitats, as the sandy beaches are destroyed to make way for yet another hotel or housing estate.
In 1991 the Society for the Protection of Turtles (SPOT) was founded in Northern Cyprus and it has a keen and enthusiastic following. Information on membership can be obtained by writing to SPOT, PO Box 42, Girne, Mersin 10, Turkey. The main base is at Alagadi beach and the summer season is monitored by students of Marine Biology from universities throughout the world. An amazing experience for all are the Turtle hatching nights which are arranged during the season. Information about joining one of the nights is available at the SPOT site office at Alagadi beach.
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