Experience nature at its best...
Watch the baby turtles hatch, or a mother turtle heading up the beach in the middle of the night and burying her eggs in the sand on a beach in North Cyprus.
You will never forget the North Cyprus turtles...
Turtles in North Cyprus
Where and when to see North Cyprus turtles...
North Cyprus beaches - the perfect turtle paradise…
You can find two species of turtles which nest in the sand on the beaches of North Cyprus - the Loggerhead Turtle (Caretta caretta) and the Green Turtle (Chelonia mydas). Along with other islands of the Mediterranean and the coastline of Turkey, there are several turtle conservation sites which are continually monitored during the laying and hatching seasons. The Loggerhead Turtle and the Green Turtle both nest in the soft sands of Alagadi beach near Esentepe to the east of Kyrenia, as well as elsewhere on the Cyprus coast, including the long stretch of sand on the Golden beach in the Karpaz Peninsula and the Akamas Peninsula in the south.
Female turtles, also known as hen turtles, typically lay anywhere between 70 to 150 eggs in the nesting season between late March and early June. Once the mother turtle has nested, there are various conservation efforts to protect the eggs, such as cages to prevent dogs and humans from accidentally digging them up. The incubation period depends on the temperature, however hatchlings normally emerge around 50 to 60 days later, with the peak of the hatching period between July and August.
The tiny hatchlings are emerge from their eggs at night and make their dangerous journey to the sea. Typically a baby turtle is around 4cm long and weighs between 15 and 20g. Being born at night provides the baby turtles the greatest protection from predators such as seagulls, crabs, dogs and humans, but even so the infant mortality rate is extremely high, as even if they manage to make it to the sea they also provide a tasty snack for large fish.
Loggerhead turtles are thought to be one of the oldest species of turtle in the world and can weigh up to 450kg. They typically have a diet of jellyfish, squid, flying fish and molluscs as their powerful jaws allow them to crush the shells of clams, crabs and mussels. Interestingly, the Loggerheads appear to be totally immune to the toxins of the Portuguese Man of War.
If a Loggerhead turtle reaches maturity, they can live a long life in excesss of forty years up to around sixty-five years of age. Once the turtles reach adulthood, their only real formidable predators are sharks and boats such as fishing trawlers. Via a combination of her instincts, the moon, gravity and the sea, a female turtle will return to lay her eggs on or near the beach where she was hatched, even if she has migrated thousands of miles throughout the oceans of the world.
The Loggerhead is now an endangered species and are protected from hunting. They used to be killed for their shells, which were used to make combs, spectacle frames and fancy boxes.
The Green Sea Turtle is also known as the Black Turtle, is named not by the colour of its shell but from the green fat beneath its skin. Typically, their shells are actually olive to black coloured. The Green Turtle is an herbivorous creature, feeding 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 Green Turtles lay their eggs in a similar manner to the Loggerhead Turtles and other turtles of the world. Once they reach maturity, the Green Turtle can have a life span of around 80 years and grow to around 5 feet long, weighing around 70kg to 200kg on average.
Green Turtles used to be considered a delicacy, and they were killed for their flesh, as well as their eggs, which used to be stolen from their nests before the turtles were added to the endangered species list.
The Green Turtles do not have many predators; only humans and larger varieties of shark feed on them, however the biggest threat they face is the destruction of their habitats. The sandy beaches where these graceful creatures have laid their eggs for thousands of years are slowly being destroyed to make room for yet more hotels and housing estates, which is why the conservation areas such as the one on Alagadi Beach in North Cyprus are vital for the continuation of the species.
North Cyprus is a prime nesting ground for both the Loggerhead and Green Turtle, which is why in 1991 the Society for the Protection of Turtles (SPOT) was founded in North Cyprus. SPOT has a keen following and marine biology students from universities all over the world come to do their residencies at Alagadi beach. SPOT's main base is at Alagadi beach which is near Esentepe to the East of Kyrenia. Students and volunteers monitor the turtle eggs throughout the summer season to try to protect the eggs from predators. Alagadi beach is closed at night to the general public and you can only view the turtles by prior arrangement with SPOT. A sighting is not guaranteed as it depends on the weather and turtle numbers, but generally mid-June to mid-July is busiest.
If you would like to experience the once in a lifetime opportunity to watch the mother turtles nesting or the baby turtles hatching, then egg-laying, releases and hatching nights are arranged during the season at Alagadi Beach and sometimes at other beaches in North Cyprus such as Karşıyaka or Dipkarpaz. You will be surprised at how large these turtles are! Guests to the beach are asked to be very quiet so that they do not scare the turtles, so although children are allowed to come and see the turtles, they must be quiet and supervised at all times. Additionally, phones or cameras with flashes or lights are not allowed as these can disorientate the mother turtles, who go by the light of the moon to lay their eggs. Prepare for a night on the beach by packing a beach towel or blanket to lay on, wear warm clothes (as it can get chilly at night) and wear long trousers if possible. You should also wear trainers or good sandals as there can be uneven terrain. The walk is around 1km to the site and you can expect to be there from around 8pm until 5.30am if you would like to stay all night, however you can leave earlier via prior arrangements with the conservation volunteers.
Turtle watching is truly an absolutely unforgettable experience and should definitely be on your agenda of things to do in North Cyprus if you are visiting in the summer months. You must book early to avoid disappointment, as the turtle nights are extremely popular. We recommend booking online on the SPOT website before you travel to North Cyprus, particularly if you are in a group. Alternatively, you can visit in person whilst you are in Northern Cyprus at the Alagadi site office close to the beach, just follow the signs to the Turtle Conservation Project (AKA the Goat Shed). They are generally open from late May to late September between 9am and 8pm. SPOT also have a Facebook page where you can find all the latest turtle-related information.