Nineteen cages used to protect turtles’ nests from being disturbed on a Polis Chrysochous beach have been purposely and cruelly destroyed by people driving quad bikes.
Fisheries Department staff made the grim discovery while inspecting the Limni area beach. The officials have told reporters it appears the vandals drove over the cages again and again to ensure they were destroyed, likely also damaging the turtle eggs underneath too much for them to ever hatch.
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The 19 cages are amongst 70 set up in the vicinity, used by protected Caretta caretta turtles. Department personnel will be monitoring the scene over the coming days in the hope that some of the eggs will still be able to hatch. As well as the cages, the quad bikers also destroyed the labelling system used to help the authorities keep track of the turtle nests.
The law forbids any vehicles from being driven on any beach in Cyprus, including ones where there are no turtles’ nests.
The nests themselves, meanwhile, are protected by both national and European law.
The Caretta caretta, or loggerhead sea turtle measures around 90cm in length when fully grown, although larger specimens of up to 280 cm have been discovered.
The adult loggerhead sea turtle weighs approximately 135 kg, with the largest specimens weighing in at more than 450 kg.
They spend most of their life in saltwater and estuarine habitats, with females briefly coming ashore to lay eggs.
The loggerhead sea turtle has a low reproductive rate; females lay an average of four egg clutches and then become quiescent, producing no eggs for two to three years.
The Caretta caretta reaches sexual maturity within 17 to 33 years of being born and has a lifespan of between 47 and 67 years.