By Maria Gregoriou
EIGHTY turtle eggs were saved by the fisheries department after attempts to protect them with a special cage failed due to a clean-up on the Kastela beach in Larnaca.
The eggs gave now been taken to the protected Lara bay turtle conservation station in the Akamas.
At the beginning of July the department was informed by a beach bar owner that a green turtle had been on shore for hours and had possibly laid eggs. On investigation, marine officials placed a protective cage over the nest.
But later a clean-up on the beach knocked away the cage and it was feared the eggs might have been damaged or destroyed.
“Eighty eggs were removed from the nest and transported safely to Lara,” a marine official said. None had been destroyed.
The environmental department of the British bases at Akrotiri also released a statement on Monday announcing the success of their plan to protect turtle eggs.
The plan includes training people who are authorised to identify, excavate and move nests and to educate school students about the protection of turtles.
Nesting beaches are checked on a daily basis. “More than 30 nests protected by cages have been found up to now. Until the end of the summer this number is expected to exceed 50,” the statement said.
The breeding season for turtles in Cyprus starts late in May and lasts until the end of August. They lay eggs every two to five years and nesting takes place at night.
The Green turtle (Chelonia mydas) and the Loggerhead turtle (Caretta caretta) are the two species which nest in Cyprus. Both are threatened by extinction in the Mediterranean.
In Cyprus Green turtles now nest on the west coast beaches of Lara and Toxeftra and on some beaches on the north coast.. Loggerheads also nest in these areas but their main nesting beaches are in the Polis and Limni area in Chrysochou bay.
Turtles and their eggs have been protected under the Fisheries Legislation since 1971. The main predator of turtle eggs in Cyprus is the fox.
The Cyprus Turtle Conservation Project was set up by the Department of Fisheries and Marine Research in 1978 to help the marine turtles of Cyprus. It was the first such project in the Mediterranean.
The project aims to protect nesting beaches and eggs, to protect adult turtles, monitor turtle population and nesting activity and also to raise public awareness in turtle conservation.