Turtle species in Cyprus.

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Cyprus, a Mediterranean island nation, is home to a variety of unique flora and fauna, including several species of turtles. These ancient creatures have been living in the waters surrounding Cyprus for millions of years and play a vital role in the island’s ecosystem. In this article, we will explore the different turtle species found in Cyprus, their habitats, and their conservation status.

Green Turtle (Chelonia mydas)
The green turtle is a large marine turtle that can grow up to 1.5 meters in length and weigh up to 300 kilograms. They have a distinctive greenish-brown carapace, which gives them their name. Green turtles are found throughout the world’s tropical and subtropical oceans, and Cyprus is no exception. They are known to nest on several beaches along the island’s northern and eastern coasts, including the Alagadi beach in Girne and the Lara beach in Akamas. Green turtles are classified as endangered globally by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) and are protected by law in Cyprus.

Loggerhead Turtle (Caretta caretta)

The loggerhead turtle is another species of marine turtle that is commonly found in the waters surrounding Cyprus. They have a distinctive reddish-brown carapace and can grow up to 1.2 meters in length and weigh up to 250 kilograms. Loggerhead turtles are known to nest on several beaches along the island’s southern coast, including the Larnaka Salt Lake and the Pafos coastline. Like the green turtle, loggerhead turtles are classified as endangered globally by the IUCN and are protected by law in Cyprus.

Leatherback Turtle (Dermochelys coriacea)

The leatherback turtle is the largest of all the turtle species and can grow up to 2 meters in length and weigh up to 900 kilograms. Unlike other turtle species, leatherback turtles do not have a hard carapace; instead, they have a leathery skin covering their back. Leatherback turtles are found throughout the world’s oceans and are known to nest on several beaches along the island’s southern coast. The leatherback turtle is classified as vulnerable globally by the IUCN and is also protected by law in Cyprus.

Hawksbill Turtle (Eretmochelys imbricata)

The hawksbill turtle is a smaller species of marine turtle that can grow up to 1 meter in length and weigh up to 80 kilograms. They have a distinctive pointed beak and a patterned carapace. Hawksbill turtles are found throughout the world’s tropical oceans and are known to nest on several beaches along the island’s southern coast. The hawksbill turtle is classified as critically endangered globally by the IUCN and is protected by law in Cyprus.

Conservation Efforts Cyprus has implemented several measures to protect its turtle populations. The Department of Fisheries and Marine Research is responsible for monitoring and protecting turtle nesting sites and implementing conservation measures. This includes regulating beach lighting to reduce disorientation of hatchlings, implementing beach cleaning programs to remove debris that can impede nesting, and educating the public about the importance of turtle conservation.

Cyprus is home to four species of marine turtles, each with unique characteristics and conservation needs. These ancient creatures play a vital role in the island’s ecosystem, and it is important to continue efforts to protect them. By implementing conservation measures and educating the public, we can ensure that these magnificent creatures continue to thrive for generations to come.