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British Bases records 10-year high for Sea Turtle nests

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Environmental experts have confirmed this year saw the second-highest number of sea turtle nests recorded within the British Bases areas (SBAs) since 2009.

As the nesting season draws to a close, the SBA Administration Environmental Department said 282 nests were recorded “at all sandy beaches” within the Bases.

Alexia Perdiou, the Senior Environmental and Policy Officer for the SBAA, was understandably delighted with the latest numbers and explained why this nesting season had been such a success.

“The Environment Department of the Sovereign Base Areas Administration coordinates turtle conservation work, focusing on minimum intervention and following international best practices, mirroring the work undertaken in the rest of Cyprus.

“Once turtle nests are identified, they are demarcated with a protective aluminium cage, with a ring placed around the cage buried in the sand to prevent foxes and dogs from disturbing the nests.

“Hatchlings are then left on their own to emerge naturally from nests and make their way to the sea.”

The disturbance of nests by humans is punishable with up to €17,000 in fines or up to three years imprisonment, and it would seem this has proven to be a deterrent.

Perdiou pointed to the joint efforts of other conservationists on the island in protecting hatchlings.

“The work of the Environment Department would not have been so successful without the invaluable help from volunteers who walk nesting beaches daily to identify turtle tracks so that nests can be protected until they hatch.

“Volunteers comprise primarily British citizens living and working in the Bases but also citizens from elsewhere in Cyprus.

“The Department also works closely with the Non-Governmental Organisation Terra Cypria, which coordinates the volunteers who cover Lady’s Mile Beach.

“Volunteers also play an important role in identifying and reporting illegal and damaging activities like dog walking, interventions in the sand, driving on the beach and overnight camping.”

But despite the most successful nesting season in over a decade, Perdiou said there was no time to sit back and enjoy the success, saying the momentum should not be lost.

“No matter how much effort and resources competent authorities dedicate to the conservation of important species and their habitats, they are never enough unless they are embraced and complemented by citizens in the areas hosting these species.

“Only one in 1,000 turtles will make it to adulthood, and it is a priority species with a very strict protection status.

“Let us all try to safeguard a sustainable future for sea turtles, and most importantly, let us not engage in damaging activities like lighting fires, leaving rubbish behind, walking dogs, staying overnight and using lights on turtle nesting beaches.”