Last month, my wife and I had the chance to visit other parts of Cyprus that I hadn’t seen before, including the sea turtle hatchery at Lara Beach. While the beach was open during the day to swimming and sunbathing, sea turtles come ashore on appropriate nights to lay eggs, and a conservation effort has been underway there for the past decade.
Of seven recorded species of sea turtle, two – loggerhead turtles (Caretta Caretta) and green turtles (Chelonia Mydas) – lay their eggs on Cypriot beaches. Both are listed as endangered species.
The conservation effort included several aspects. On the one hand, there were tents set up with posters to educate bathers on a wide variety of topics relating to sea turtles. In one was a fish tank with a dozen or more hatchlings that had been caught freshly hatched and were being kept for a week for visitors to see, before being released. That is the picture above, which I took looking down into the tank. (Greens have white undersides, and looking at them from above you can see the rim of the shell as white; loggerheads are all dark)
What makes this situation work, with the mix of beach-goers and sea turtle nests are the measures taken to protect the nests. The nests are blocked off (see picture) and marked, making it difficult for people to step on them.
Other efforts include relocating nests where hatchlings would otherwise almost certainly perish. Most of these were from other nearby beaches, where they would be unable to get back to sea, trampled on at busier beaches, or preyed upon by fox.
And another approach was tried a couple years ago – keeping hatchlings in captivity longer, giving them time to grow, so that a higher percentage of them might live to adulthood.