Lara Beach and the sea turtles

Lara Beach and the sea turtles

Lara Beach is located in the Akamas nature reserve, a beautiful wilderness with an abundance of trees, shrubs and flowers, deep ravines, steep hillsides and gorgeous little beaches. It takes around 30 minutes from Paphos town to get there, and you should preferably have an SUV with good ground clearance, as roads in the Akamas are dirt roads with many potholes and traces of last winter's rains.

But, it is worth the trip and it is not hard to find Lara Beach. The beach is great with dark sand and here are two species of sea turtles coming in to lay their eggs in the sand – the "green turtle" (Chelonia mydas) and the "loggerhead turtle" (Caretta caretta). There were many of them in bygone times and the government does much to preserve and protect these animals. "Leatherback turtles" (Dermochelys coriacea) are also seen in the waters around the island, but so far this species has not been registered laying eggs..

Exploitation of turtles in the Mediterranean from the 1920s until about 1970 reduced the population dramatically. Tens of thousands of turtles, especially "green turtles" were sent from the north-eastern Mediterranean to Egypt where there was a significant market for these animals, but also to the European market where there was a large demand for turtle soup.

The increasing use of beaches through tourism is now threatening the population of turtles in the Mediterranean by making it harder to reach the traditional undisturbed places to lay eggs. Many turtles drown or are killed when they are caught in fishermen's nets. - The result is that turtles in general, and particularly "green turtles" is close to extinction in the Mediterranean. The population of nesting "green turtle" female turtles is estimated at about 500, and 3-5000 "loggerheads".

Both "green turtles" as well as "loggerhead turtles" is declared endangered by "the World Conservation Union". The green is, naturally, most at risk since there are so few of them. Most Mediterranean countries now have laws in place that protect turtles. Cyprus was probably the first country which established laws as early as 1971.

Turtles lay eggs with 2-5 year intervals. Loggerheads mostly from mid-May to mid-August, while the green begins and ends about two weeks later. Eggs are laid 3 times every other week. Loggerheads in Cyprus lay about 80 eggs each time, while the green lays on average 120 eggs. Loggerheads lay their eggs in chambers about 30-50 cm deep, while the green goes deeper, to about 50-80 cm.

Hatching occurs about seven weeks after the eggs are laid. The newborns have a perilous race for a minute or two down to the sea and relative safety.

Here is the link to an interesting article that the above article is derived from: http://www.aboutcyprus.org.cy/en/turtles-and-conservation-in-cyprus

Green sea turtle off Cape Greko