News Local Climate change adds to plight of endangered sea turtles in Cyprus

Climate change adds to plight of endangered sea turtles in Cyprus

Hatched baby sea turtles on the Mediterranean island of Cyprus struggling to crawl to the sea now face the added threat of climate change as they dig their way out of nests in the sand, scientists say.

The endangered species has faced decades of threats to its survival, including coastal development for tourism and fishermen’s nets.

According to Medasse, the Mediterranean sea turtle protection association, climate change has caused a rise in sea levels and more frequent, severe storms, jeopardizing the turtles’ nesting grounds.

“This year is a little bit of a strange year, because of the climatic changes we see very, very strange weather,” said marine biologist Myroula Hadjichristoforou, in charge of the Cyprus Fisheries Department’s marine turtles protection programme.

“We had very, very extreme climatic phenomena, a lot of strong winds, big waves covering the beaches, and I think we lost a lot of nests.”

Instead of once or twice in the entire summer, very rough seas have been observed every two weeks, sometimes every week.

Hatched baby turtles can get disoriented by artificial lights or tyre tracks and face an elevated risk of dying in the sun or being eaten by foxes. Even if they make it to the sea they are prey to birds and fish.

HOT WEATHER A RISK

Changes in temperature affect the sex of a turtle, with hotter weather producing more females. High temperatures can also hinder eggs from hatching.

Even if their nests on the beach remain unscathed, few survive the annual ordeal of getting safely into the sea.

“Out of every 1,000 babies that go to sea, one or two will survive to become mature and to come back to the beach where they were born to lay their own eggs,” said Hadjichristoforou.

Due to an imprint mechanism, which scientists call a turtle’s GPS, female turtles return to the same beach where they were born to lay their eggs.

Cyprus is home to two endangered turtle species – the Green Turtle and the loggerhead Caretta Caretta.

In the island’s Paphos district, the Lara beach reserve is a protected area, stretching along 10 kilometres (six miles) of coastline. Nests are protected with cages and hatching areas on the beach are fenced off.

Successful conservation efforts on Cyprus have led to an increase in nests to around 2,000 today from just 300 four decades ago.

(Reuters-photo by Yiannis Kourtoglou)

Top Stories

369 new cases through PCR tests, two deaths announced on Saturday

The Health Ministry announced the death of two persons due to COVID-19. Specifically, a woman 82 with underlying conditions, who had been treated at...

38-year-old arrested for sending videos of minor’s sexual abuse

The Police’s Office for Combating Cybercrime arrested a 38-year-old on the basis of an arrest warrant within the framework of investigating a case of...

Final phase of MEDUSA Multinational Exercise concluded

The final phase of the multinational aeronautical exercise "MEDUSA-10/20", which took place in the sea northwest of the city of Alexandria in Egypt, was...

PM Johnson and EU chief seek to break Brexit impasse

British Prime Minister Boris Johnson will speak to European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen on Saturday to try to break an impasse in...

Moscow rolls out Sputnik V COVID-19 vaccine to most exposed groups

Moscow began distributing the Sputnik V COVID-19 shot via 70 clinics on Saturday to the most exposed groups, marking Russia's first large-scale vaccination against...

Taste

Squash soup

Ingredients: 1 kg pumpkin, cut into small cubes, approximately 5 cups 2 medium (400g) sweet potatoes, cut into cubes, approximately 2 ½ cups 1 chopped leek, only...

Mezedes

No visit to Cyprus is complete without enjoying the traditional meal of many small dishes known as ‘meze’. This large feast, which has been a...

Prawns with fried cheese, barley shaped pasta

Put the barley shaped pasta into a small pan with salted water, bring to a boil and when tender, drain. Peal the prawns leaving...

Salmon and shrimp sheftalies

Mix all ingredients for tabbouli in a bowl and keep to one side so flavours can combine. Prepare the sheftalies: wash and soak the casing...