Egyptian lagoon important to Cyprus turtles

The variety of inexperienced turtles breeding in Cyprus has risen lately — however this bounce-back relies upon closely on an Egyptian lagoon the place many turtles feed, new analysis exhibits.

Inexperienced turtles, an endangered species, spend most of their lives foraging in a single space, however they return to the seashore the place they hatched to put eggs.

The brand new examine, by the College of Exeter and the North Cyprus Society for the Safety of Turtles (SPOT), tagged and tracked females laying eggs at key rookeries (breeding seashores) in Cyprus, and located 74% forage at Lake Bardawil in Egypt.

The examine discovered that nest numbers have nearly tripled because the early Nineties — however the dependence on a number of feeding websites, particularly Lake Bardawil, leaves turtle populations weak if circumstances there change.

“Since about 2010, our monitoring of turtles from Cyprus has proven a big enhance within the quantity foraging at Lake Bardawil,” stated Dr Robin Snape, of the Centre for Ecology and Conservation on Exeter’s Penryn Campus in Cornwall.

“On the similar time, the variety of grownup turtles foraging round Cyprus and Turkey has declined — presumably because of excessive bycatch (unintentional catch) of turtles in fisheries there.

“The general enhance in nest numbers seems to be pushed by safety of nesting websites in Cyprus and circumstances at Lake Bardawil.

“It is attainable that the lake will attain its capability, and at that time the inexperienced turtle inhabitants might cease rising.”

Lake Bardawil is a lagoon with a human-made opening that connects to the ocean, permitting marine life together with turtles to swim out and in.

It was created within the Fifties as a fishery, nevertheless it has grow to be a really perfect seagrass habitat for grownup inexperienced turtles, that are sometimes over a metre in size and weigh greater than 100kg.

The brand new examine used long-term satellite tv for pc tagging to trace 19 feminine turtles nesting at main rookeries on the Karpaz Peninsula, Cyprus.

Whereas many of the turtles went to Lake Bardawil, one migrated 1,500 miles (2,400km) to Djerba island, Tunisia — the longest distance but recorded for a Mediterranean inexperienced turtle.

Evaluating the oldest obtainable three-year nest depend averages (1993-1995) with nest counts undertaken as a part of this examine (2017-2019), common annual nest numbers elevated from 186 to 554.

“Given the significance of Lake Bardawil for inexperienced turtles within the Japanese Mediterranean, it is vital that the habitat there’s managed in a approach that protects turtles and helps the livelihoods of fishers,” stated Professor Annette Broderick, from the College of Exeter.

“Decreasing bycatch and defending habitats in different areas might additionally enhance inexperienced turtle numbers and cut back reliance on this single location.”

The examine was funded by the MAVA Basis and the Pure Surroundings Analysis Council.

The paper, printed within the journal International Ecology and Conservation, is entitled: “Mediterranean inexperienced turtle inhabitants restoration more and more depends upon Lake Bardawil, Egypt.”

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