Friday’s Fun Fact about: Lara Beach and it’s Turtle Conservation

Lara Beach, on the Akamas peninsula is a must-visit for those that would like a ‘different’ kind of beach experience in Cyprus.

Lara Beach - the magical hidden gem of beaches

Lara Beach – the magical hidden gem of beaches

With its mountainous back-drop, sandy beach and clear waters, Lara beach is truly breathtaking and is well worth the drive from Aphrodite Hills (around 45 minutes).  It has a magical kind of calm that you can’t quite put your finger on, and when you’re there you forget that anywhere else exists – we’d say you’d have to experience it for yourself to truly understand.

Another reason that Lara beach is so special is that it is declared as a protected area for turtles and their eggs.

Two species of turtle are known to commonly breed in Cyprus, the Green Turtle and the Loggerhead turtle – both of which are endangered, as per the World Conservation Union (you can read a little more about the protection in place a little further down).

A green turtle hatchling making it's dash to the sea

A green turtle hatchling making it’s dash to the sea

Turtles lay every 2-5 years. Loggerheads nest mainly from the middle of May to about the middle of August, while Greens start and finish about two weeks later. During the breeding season they lay on average 3 times, every two weeks. Loggerheads in Cyprus lay about 80 eggs per clutch while Green turtles lay on average 120 eggs. In Loggerheads the eggs are laid in chambers about 30-50 cm deep while Green turtles lay their eggs deeper, at about 50-80 cm. In turtles sex determination is dependent on the incubation temperature. Incubation at 29o – 30oC results in half the hatchlings being male and the other half female. Lower temperatures result in male hatchlings. Higher temperatures produce females. This means that eggs laid early in the season are more likely to produce male hatchlings than eggs laid later on.

Turtle hatchlings are attracted to lights. The hatchlings emerge from the sand at night, about seven weeks after the eggs are laid. They head directly for the sea. Their location of the sea is based on their attraction to the lightest part of the horizon – which is normally the sea.

Most Mediterranean countries now have legislation protecting turtles. Cyprus was probably the first country in this sea to legally protect turtles, along with dolphins and seals, by passing legislation (Regulations made under the Fisheries Law) as early as 1971.

habitat protection is essential to the survival of Cyprus' turtles

habitat protection is essential to the survival of Cyprus’ turtles

In 1976 a project was conceived to help the marine turtles of Cyprus. Two years later, in 1978, a project was launched by the Fisheries Department. It includes a seasonal station and a “hatchery” at Lara. The Cyprus Government finances the project. In 1980, it received World Wildlife Fund support for three years, as an IUCN/WWF project. In 1990 it received assistance from the European Union as a MedSPA Project. The Cyprus Turtle Conservation Project is the first turtle conservation project in the Mediterranean.

The main thrust of the project aims at:

  • Protecting and managing turtle nesting beaches
  • Protecting eggs and hatchlings from predation – and human activities
  • Protecting adult turtles
  • Monitoring the turtle population and nesting activity in Cyprus
  • Raising public awareness in turtle conservation

 

The hatchery at Lara Beach is really interesting (although very basic) and if you visit after hatching season then you may even be lucky enough to see baby turtles in the showcase tank – don’t worry, this is only to promote interest in protection of the turtles and the babies are not kept there for extended periods of time.  

For more details on this article you can visit the site from where we have taken extracts:  Click Here

 

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