When we searched for sights and activities in Cyprus at home before our holiday, we came across the turtle project on the north coast.
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The Alagadi Sea Turtles Project in Northern Cyprus
Since Northern Cyprus’s beaches are one of the most important breeding areas for loggerhead turtles, a social project has been established here in the early 1990s, for which numerous volunteers come every year: the Society for the Protection of Turtles. The project is aimed at protecting turtles on the one hand and collecting data on the other. For this purpose, the nests, eggs and the number of hatched baby turtles are counted in order to finally get an overview of the population of turtles in the Mediterranean region.
We have already visited a turtle project in Indonesia on our trip around the world and have also seen turtles laying their eggs at night. We were also able to release small baby turtles back into the sea. Since it was already an incredibly impressive experience at that time, we really wanted to do it again here in Cyprus.
Here are some impressions of our great turtle experience in Sukamade (Indonesia) 🙂
You can register for a so-called Turtle Night Watch via the website of the Turtle Project in Cyprus. The places are rare (max. 17 per night), so we have already booked this three weeks in advance. The activity is basically free of charge, but a donation is required from each visitor, as the project can only be carried out in this way. Every year from the end of May to the beginning of August, the adult female turtles come from the sea to the beaches in the dark, dig pits into the sand on their own, lay their eggs in them and then disappear back into the vastness of the sea.
At 8.20 p.m. we should be at the information centre of the project, which is located in Alagadi. First, we watched a ten-minute film about the project, providing further information on the background and volunteers, most of whom come from UK universities.
The Turtle Night Watch
At nightfall we walked in the group to the beach (Alagadi Turtle Beach) 1 km away. By the way, the beach is closed to the public from 8 p.m. to 8 a.m. and is only accessible during this time if you go with a group – accompanied by volunteers as part of the project. As soon as we arrived at the beach, we had to make out all the light sources. From here, only the red light of the project staff was used, because the artificial light stresses the dropping turtle females and they would probably go back into the sea without laying their eggs.
In the goose march we walked right on the shore and settled down at one point with blankets and towels to endure here until the rangers give us the signal that a turtle has been spotted. In order not to overlook any of the turtles, the volunteers always alternate and walk along the whole bay. They don’t even necessarily look for turtles, but simply for the turtle tracks they leave in the sand as they move on the beach. Meanwhile, we had enough time to look at the beautiful clear starry sky that was above us. Even small shooting stars could be seen from time to time.
By now it was 1 o’clock at night and there was nothing to see from the turtles. What a pity. To cheer us up, a short time later a volunteer came with a bucket full of hatched baby turtles,which were to be released into the sea that night. The sight of the little ones was really sweet. But the really heartbreaking thing was the statement that only one turtle survives out of 1,000 eggs! We already knew this from the turtle project in Indonesia, but every time you hear it and the number melts on your tongue, it shakes you a little bit.
That night, unfortunately, we couldn’t see any falling turtles. At half past two o’clock at night we walked back to the info centre as a closed group. Even if it is up to 40 degrees in Cyprus during the day, it can even get quite fresh here on the beach at night. So having long things with you is an advantage here. Some of the volunteers stayed on the beach , as every night – because it could happen that a turtle comes out of the sea.
The Alagadi Turtle Beach
The next day we wanted to look at the beach again in daylight, because already the night before we saw the many white wire cages that the volunteers set up to protect the nests below from dogs or foxes. At the cages there are small signs and notepads on which the volunteers write down the different data. After about 50 to 60 days, the boys hatch and the project staff want to be prepared for this. The whole beach is littered with wire cages, in between there is always a towel or a parasol.
Video from Sea Turtles Night Watch
Here is a short video of the newly hatched baby turtles we were shown on the beach at night 🙂
All travelogues from CyprusThe island of Cyprus has about 1.1 million inhabitants and is the third largest island in the Mediterranean after Sicily and Sardinia. Since 1974 the island has been divided. However, it was clear to us from the very beginning that we would like to explore the entire island on our own - both Northern Cyprus and Southern Cyprus. In our articles we will give you detailed information about our hotels, the sights of the whole island (north and south), diving at the wreck Zenobia and turtle watching in Alagadi.
Cyprus: Travel Guide, Things to know & Tourist Attractions
Cyprus: Our rental car for Northern Cyprus & Southern Cyprus
Cyprus: Nikosia – Travel Guide & Things to do in the divided city
Northern Cyprus: Salamis Bay Conti Resort Hotel & Casino
Northern Cyprus: Tourist Attractions on the east coast of the island
Northern Cyprus: Kyrenia – The port city of Girne in Northern Cyprus
Northern Cyprus: The Alagadi Sea Turtle Project in Northern Cyprus
Southern Cyprus: Larnaca – Diving at the shipwreck Zenobia
Southern Cyprus: Tourist Attractions & Things to do in the south part of the island