The turtle protection and management programme in Cyprus is recognised as one of the best in Europe and was short-listed for a Natura Award.
Cyprus is nesting ground for the green turtle (Chelonia mydas) and the loggerhead turtle (Caretta caretta)
The Department of Fisheries and Marine Research (DFMR) has utilised the programme since its introduction in 1978 every summer with particular attention to Lara Beach, Paphos.
The programme aims to protect the turtles, eggs and hatchlings from natural predators such as foxes and human intervention.
It also seeks to protect their natural nesting grounds, monitoring their numbers and breeding activity in Cyprus and to raise public awareness in the protection of turtles and the marine environment in general.
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The turtles, their eggs and their nesting grounds at Lara – Toxeftra are protected by law since 1971.
Members of the public can contribute to the programme by informing the DFMR of turtle sightings, and nests and where possible to supply dates, times while the location of the nest is vitally important to ensure that it is adequately protected.
The last few years have seen an increase in nesting activities, especially by the loggerhead turtle in the Lara area and is accredited to the measures taken by the DFMR over the last 25 years.
Members of the public may visit the Lara – Toxeftra beaches but since they are protected areas it is prohibited to use umbrellas, beach beds, tents or campers on the beach.
Furthermore members of the public cannot camp on the beach overnight and must vacate the beach at least one hour before sunset.
Driving on the beach is strictly prohibited as is the use of boats in the area while fishing is only allowed with a fishing rod.
Littering and the lighting of fires on the beach are prohibited as is the gathering of crabs which are protected on all the island’s beaches.
Visitors to Lara are also requested to stay within the demarcated footpaths and to refrain form destroying flora on the sand dunes while any holes made on the beach should be filled in before leaving.
In the event of turtle or nest sightings, members of the public can contact the DFMR at 22807835/22807859 (Nicosia), 99489645 (Larnaca and Famagusta), 99725707 (ZYgi), 99486130 (Limassol) and 9948962 (Paphos) or by e-mail at [email protected] and [email protected]