THE BRITISH Bases yesterday called on beach-goers to act responsibly as Cyprus is now at the heart of the turtle nesting season.
According to the announcement, all sandy beaches within the bases’ area (Lady’s Mile, Akrotiri turtle beaches, Kourion, Episkopi, Paramali, Evdhimou, and Pyla-Ormidhia) are closely monitored to protect turtle nests until they hatch with the support of volunteers who walk the beaches on a daily basis.
Turtle nests are demarcated with a protective aluminium cage and a small sign. Any disturbance to the nest is strictly prohibited.
“But turtle nests and turtle hatchlings cannot be safe unless everyone helps by avoiding disturbance that jeopardises their survival,” said the statement.
The bases issued a warning against camping activity, use of artificial lights, dog-walking, driving vehicles and leaving rubbish on turtle-nesting beaches.
According to the bases, camping and other activity on turtle nesting beaches at night can deter female turtles from nesting and lead them to lay eggs in the sea, potentially destroying 100 eggs.
Artificial lights on the beach disorient hatchlings and can cause them to move away from the sea. They are normally attracted by the strongest light which should be the reflection of the moon on the sea. However if there are artificial lights by restaurants on the beach, car lights or any other form of light, they could be attracted towards them and die.
There should be no dogs on turtle nesting beaches. They constitute an extremely serious nuisance to nesting turtles. They can predate turtle nests by destroying the nest and removing eggs. Also they may deter turtles from nesting.
Vehicle movements on the beach not only compacts the sand, making it very difficult for the turtles to dig their nest, but they often lead to the collapse of a nest and the destruction of the eggs.
Leaving rubbish on turtle-nesting beaches can make it difficult for the turtles to find a suitable area to nest. Rubbish can also be an obstacle for hatchlings when they are trying to find their way to the sea.
The Green Turtle (Chelonia Mydas) and the Loggerhead Turtle (Caretta caretta) are both endangered, priority, species and they are strictly protected. Interfering with nesting turtles, eggs, hatchlings or nests is punishable with a fine up to €17,000 or with imprisonment up to three years. Walking dogs on the beaches is punishable with a fine up to €854 or imprisonment up to three months.
“If every beach user acts responsibly they will be positively contributing to giving turtles a better chance of survival. Currently, only one turtle in a thousand will make it to adulthood,” said the statement.
The bases call on anyone who notices any activity which can disturb nests or turtles to inform the bases police by telephone at 1443.