Cyprus’ coasts of the British bases are teeming with turtles with the highest number of nests recorded within the areas since 2009, it was announced on Tuesday.

Bases environmental experts confirmed 282 nests “at all sandy beaches” within the bases as the season draws to a close.

Senior Environmental and Policy Officer Alexia Perdiou was delighted as the final numbers came in.

“The environment department of the Sovereign Base Areas Administration co-ordinates turtle conservation work, focusing on minimum intervention and by following international best practices, mirroring the work undertaken in the rest of Cyprus.

“Once turtle nests are identified they are demarcated with a protective aluminium cage, with a ring placed around the cage buried in the sand to prevent foxes and dogs from disturbing the nests. Hatchlings are then left on their own to emerge naturally from nests and make their way to the sea.”

The disturbance of nests is punishable with up to €17,000 in fines or up to three years imprisonment and the bases believe this has been an adequate deterrent.

Perdiou was quick to point to the joint efforts of other conservationists on island in protecting hatchlings.

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“The work of the environment department would have not been so successful without the invaluable help from volunteers who walk nesting beaches daily to identify turtle tracks so that nests can be protected until they hatch,” she explained.

“Volunteers comprise primarily of British citizens living and working in the bases but also citizens from elsewhere in Cyprus. The department also works closely with the non-governmental organisation Terra Cypria, which co-ordinates the volunteers who cover Lady’s Mile beach.

“Volunteers also play an important role in identifying and reporting illegal and damaging activities like dog walking, interventions in the sand, driving on the beach and overnight camping.”

But despite the most successful nesting season in over a decade, Perdiou did say there was no time to sit back and enjoy the success, saying the momentum should not be lost.

“No matter how much effort and resources competent authorities dedicate to the conservation of important species and their habitats, they are never enough unless they are embraced and complemented by citizens in the areas hosting these species,” she said.

“Only one in 1,000 turtles will make it to adulthood and it is therefore a priority species with a very strict protection status.

“Let us all try to safeguard a sustainable future for sea turtles and most importantly, let us not engage in damaging activities like lighting fires, leaving rubbish behind, walking dogs, staying overnight and using lights on turtle nesting beaches.”