It is a fact that turtles which come very close to the beach are a pleasant surprise both for locals and visitors of Paphos Port. These “visits” are more frequent during summer months because of good weather conditions.
Sea turtles in Paphos Port
Sea turtles used to live on Earth before humans and they will definitely continue to exist after humans.
However, they are under threat and they face extinction due to climate change and human intervention in places where they live and breed.
On the coasts of Cyprus there are two types of sea turtles:
Loggerhead sea turtle: it is known as Caretta – Caretta. Caretta – Caretta is a big turtle(but smaller than green turtle). It’s about 80cm long and can lay more than 70 eggs.
Green Sea Turtle – Chelonia Mydas. It is know as the Green Turtle. It is a big turtle. Its length can reach 110cm and its weight can reach 160kg. It can live for more than 80years. It is omnivore and is mainly fed on marine plants and animals. It can lay more than 100 eggs.
It is pointed out that the Green Turtle is the second endangered species in the Mediterranean Sea after the Mediterranean seal Monachus – Monachus.
Human beings are sea turtle’s most dangerous enemy
Turtles and their eggs have been protected by fishing laws since 1971. Lara/ Toxeftra area is protected by the same law as well. In addition, since 2003 Polis/ Limnis area has been a Natura Reserve area.
However, due to the fact that the terms of Barcelona Treaty are not implemented by Cyprus and private beaches are on the increase, turtle’s lives are under threat.
Turtle’s lives are under threat because of our actions.
Accidents with crafts. Fishermen’s longlines and nets are more most common threats. Turtles are trapped and die of asphyxia. Furthermore, let’s not forgot that fishermen kill turtles because they destroy their nets.
Turtles are disturbed by people during breeding out night on the beaches as many locals and tourist go to see them laying their eggs. This results is scaring the turtles which go back to the sea without laying their eggs.
Turtle laying its eggs.
Serious problem which is caused by tourist in Akamas area is the deep tyre prints which prevent baby turtles from reaching the sea. The use of four wheel vehicles and illegal camping in Lara Beach, Aphrodite’s Baths, Fontana Amarosa and “Nahira” area have been extremely harmful to nature.
Another serious problem is lights. Lights in the area distract hatching turtles.
Instead of going to the sea turtles follow the lights. Some years ago, in Argaka turtles followed the lights of a beach restaurant and left to the beach. They were found in the street and taken back to the sea, but they followed the lights again and got out of the sea. It goes without saying that monitoring beach areas where turtles lay their eggs at night is more than necessary.
Baby turtle is hatching
The region of Akamas is struct by several environmental disasters and this is catastrophic for turtles. Unfortunately forest fires which are caused deliberately are constantly on the increase. Thus, burnt land is getting bigger and bigger and risk to reach the nests is really high.
Finally, the measures taken by the government because of the pandemic increased people’s visits to nature trails.
People escape from everyday pressure by visiting nature and Akamas has become very popular destination. Sadly , visitors threw litter in the area and also destroyed the places where turtles breed without even realizing that.
Threats in Nature to the life of Sea Turtles.
In Cyprus, foxes are real threat to turtles as in some beaches 80% of eggs or baby turtles are eaten by them.
Another threat is the sea itself. When the nests are very close to the sea there is always the risk of flooding and being destroyed.
Let’s give them a chance to live safe.
There are many things we can do to contribute to the protection of the environment.
Let’s avoid land development (building) on beaches where turtles breed..
Let’s not destroy their nests.
Let’s not litter on beaches.
Let’s think that/these can cause injuries or even death to turtles.
All together, we can achieve that.
After that has been mentioned above, don’t you think that we should all do our best to protect them?
Paraskevi Antgoni Savva
Student C3 ( Agia Paraskevi Gymnasium)
Geography Teacher ( Agia Paraskevi Gymnasium)