Before we tell you about SPOT, a little background may be in order: Tourists come to North Cyprus for the warm, soft sand beaches. Sea Turtles come to North Cyprus for the warm, soft sand beaches. 

There are two species that nest in Northern Cyprus and both are endangered. Just about 10% of the Loggerhead (Caretta caretta) and 30% of the Green turtles (Chelonia mydas) from around the Mediterranean nest here. There are only about 300 to 400 Green and around 2000 Loggerhead turtles in the entire Mediterranean Sea.

Both species nest in the soft sands of Alagadi beach near Esentepe, and several other areas along the Cyprus coast, including the long stretch of sand on the Golden beach in the Karpaz Peninsula and the Akamas Peninsula in the Republic of Cyprus. Female turtles, called hen turtles, lay between 70 to 150 eggs during nesting season, which runs between late March and early June.

Scientist say Loggerhead turtles are one of the oldest species of turtle in the world and can weigh up to one-thousand pounds. They typically have a diet of jellyfish, squid, flying fish and mollusks.

The Green Sea Turtle is named not because of the color of its shell but from the green fat beneath its skin. Typically, their shells are actually olive to black. The Green Turtle feeds in lagoons and shallows on various different species of sea grass. It is well known for its long migrations between their feeding grounds and the beaches upon which they hatched.

The Society for the Protection of Turtles (SPOT)

From the Invasion/Rescue through the late eighties, little was done to protect Sea Turtles nesting in North Cyprus, their nest were dug up by foxes and dogs. The SPOT website picks up the story: “In 1988 a preliminary field study found nesting of green and loggerhead turtles to be significant. SPOT contacted Glasgow University and in 1992 a volunteer expedition team made a thorough survey. On the basis of this expedition, Kutlay (local philanthropist Kutlay Keço) committed to provide volunteer accommodation in Alagadi which is still used 25 years on by the Marine Turtle Conservation Project (MTCP). MTCP continues as a collaboration between SPOT, University of Exeter’s Marine Turtle Research Group and the North Cyprus Department for Environmental Protection.”

The work by SPOT has been instrumental in preserving nesting sites along the coast. Annette Broderick from the University of Exeter has written that green turtle nest counts on North Cyprus have increased by 162% since 1993, and loggerheads by 46%.

During the hatching season, which is in August & September, visitors can come to witness the release of these young turtles into the sea. Just before the release, guest are allowed to handle the turtles. Visitors come from across the island to watch volunteers insure these hatchlings make it safely into the water.

The site is called Alagadi Turtle Beach and is located some distance out. You will need to allow plenty of time to arrive on schedule. SPOT normally has a small table set-up where small items are sold to help support the group. While the event is free and reservations are not required, you may want to take some Lira with you and leave a donation in the provided glass bowel.

Nesting season is June & July. It is possible to join the volunteers for an overnight visit. This requires advance reservations. You’ll spend the evening with collage students watching for turtles to come ashore.

Elsewhere around the North, each morning volunteers come out and search for nest from the night before. Cages are placed over these nest to protect the eggs from dogs and foxes. Each nest is marked and protected by law.