THE Paphos swimmers association condemned on Wednesday the death of a large 50-kilo loggerhead sea turtle (Caretta caretta) which was caught up in fishing nets on Tuesday and died after being trapped underwater.
The turtle was located floating dead in the sea off the SODAP beach by a lifeguard late on Tuesday afternoon, the head of the Paphos swimmers association Matheos Ierokipiotis told the Cyprus Mail.
“At first he thought it was a person, but when he got close he realised it was a turtle,” Ierokipiotis said. He added that the dead turtle, which he believes was among those seen swimming around the Paphos municipal baths and SODAP beach area in recent weeks, had a fishing net wrapped around it.
Turtle expert Andreas Pistentis told the Cyprus News Agency that the turtle was a Caretta caretta turtle.
He warned fishermen to be more careful and if they realise they have a turtle in their nets they should set it free.
“We are very sad by this. We had lately four to five turtles swimming in the area, people were very happy to see them,” Ierokipiotis said. He added that this was probably one of these turtles.
He said that it is not uncommon for fishermen, professional and amateurs, to throw their nets too close to the beach and within the line of buoys, beyond which fishing is not allowed.
“The fisheries department must be more vigilant and impose stricter penalties on those not abiding by the rules,” Ierokipiotis said.
He also urged the fisheries department to give its consent for the creation of a marine park in the area, which would ensure the protection of turtles and the “area’s rich wetland”.
The green turtle (Chelonia mydas) and the loggerhead turtle and their eggs have been protected by law since 1971, as both turtles, especially the green, are endangered species.