Endangered Green, Loggerhead turtles make comeback in Cyprus In this photo taken on Thursday, Aug. 9, 2018, beachgoers observe a tiny sea turtle that just hatched trying to reach the Mediterranean's warm waters on Cyprus' protected Lara beach. (AP Photo/Petros Karadjias)
Endangered Green, Loggerhead turtles make comeback in Cyprus
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There is a stretch of beach in Cyprus. Cyprus is a Mediterranean island. It has has been home to Green and Loggerhead turtles for thousands of years.

Tiny turtles have just hatched on Lara Beach. They strain against the surf to reach the Mediterranean Sea. Then they embark on their life's journey.

In 20 to 30 years they will return. They'll be back at this exact location to lay their own eggs.

These turtles were hunted to near extinction in the first half of the last century. Now the Mediterranean's endangered Loggerhead and Green turtles are making a comeback. This is thanks to pioneering conservation efforts. That's according to Cypriot marine biologists.

Those efforts began in 1978. Back then, there were just 300 turtle nests on the island's beaches where the reptiles return to lay their eggs. The population has grown to around 1,100 nests last year. That's according to Andreas Demetropoulos. He is the founder and co-head of a turtle conservation program. It is under the island-nation's Fisheries and Marine Research Department.

That may not sound a lot, but the turtles' reproductive cycles stretch out as long as three decades. So the results are "quite spectacular," said Demetropoulos.

This increase is especially encouraging for the Green turtle. It lays its eggs in only two countries. These countries are Turkey and European Union member Cyprus. There are only about 1,500 female Green turtles that lay eggs in those two countries. This is less than the 6,000 female Loggerheads — or Careta Careta — that lay eggs across the Mediterranean.

Cyprus has 200-300 Green turtles that lay eggs. The number for Loggerheads is more than double that. That's according to Myroula Hadjichristophorou. She is a biologist and conservation program co-head.

Cyprus instituted its conservation program long before any other EU member and that has paid off, said Hadjichristoforou. Efforts include guarding against the turtles' main predator — foxes. Efforts also included passing crucial legislation in 1989 that allowed conservationists to protect two key beaches in the island's west and northwest. This kept curious locals and tourists at bay.

Before this, residents would camp on the beach and fire up barbecues. They had little concern for the turtles. But over time, Hadjichristophorou says the region has built up a conservationist culture — from schoolkids to adults. Now folks who spot something like an injured turtle notify the authorities immediately.

Turtles have been around for 200 million years on Earth but have called the Mediterranean home only for about 10,000 years, said Hadjichristophorou. Remarkably, the turtles' have their own ingrained "biological GPS.” It brings them back to lay their eggs to the same beaches that their ancestors chose thousands of years ago.

"When people come here with their families, their children, they see the babies coming out of their nests, this is something that they will never forget," said Hadjichristophorou.

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CRITICAL THINKING QUESTION
Why is Cyprus so concerned about its turtles?
Write your answers in the comments section below


COMMENTS (86)
  • CadenC-5
    8/28/2018 - 12:59 p.m.

    Cause they don't want to go extinct.And cause its a main extraction for visitors.

  • jordanw-orv1
    8/28/2018 - 02:56 p.m.

    The state is concerned about these turtles because they are going extinct. Also since the turtle eggs are food for nearby carnivores. Also its a sight to see for the tourists.

  • Lilas-eic
    8/28/2018 - 03:11 p.m.

    they dont want them to go extinct

  • AngelicaL-ilc
    8/28/2018 - 05:25 p.m.

    The birth rate of the turtles as well as their growth is slow and complicated, that's why the authorities must put a lot of emphasis on the conservation of these species and increase efforts to achieve their objectives.

  • Phoenix R-rud
    8/30/2018 - 11:49 a.m.

    TO begin,Cyprus turtles have started to die off.Cyprus has a reason to be concerned about the turtles.The turtles have been here longer than humans and they probably want them to be around for just one-million years or longer if the can.Plus,the little turtles only lay eggs every two centuries.Many animal species have gone extinct,so why not try to save this one

  • Beno-eic
    8/31/2018 - 12:10 p.m.

    Save the turtles!

  • Rileya-eic
    8/31/2018 - 02:38 p.m.

    I say let them come bake and lay there eggs and let them be safe for the can do the same as there famly

  • Summits-eic
    8/31/2018 - 02:39 p.m.

    I think that there should be a ranch with those turtles

  • MiaD-5
    9/05/2018 - 02:27 p.m.

    My opinion is that they did a good job trying to save the turtles and now they aren't endangered. Hadjihristophorou said,"Turtles have been around for 200 million years on Earth but have called the Mediterranean home only for about 10,000 years." The turtle nests on Cyprus Island went from 300 in 1978 to 1,100 nest just last year! So I'm really glad they put an effort into saving Loggerhead and Green turtles.

  • GerritV-
    9/05/2018 - 02:44 p.m.

    In my opinion Cyprus did a great thing for the turtles. One great thing was that they put restrictions in to save the turtles.The article was also great because it told the world the importance of saving the turtles. One great that the article states is ¨over time, Hadjichristophorou says the region has built up a conservationist culture¨ Those are the great things that Cyprus has done for it´s turtles.

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