Mediterranean: better for turtles

Researchers from the University of Exeter (UK), the Turtle Conservation Society and the University of the Eastern Mediterranean shared excellent news in a trade journal Animal conservation : Head turtles and green turtles work much better than before in the north of the island of Cyprus.

Increase by over 40%

In the Mediterranean, turtle populations (Caretta caretta) and green turtles (Chelonia mydas) have historically declined due to commercial exploitation, accidental fishing interactions, coastal development and high predation of eggs and young“, recalls a new study. According to the Red List of the International Union for Conservation of Nature, tortoises remain globally vulnerable and green turtles are in danger of extinction. But a new study published on May 10, 2021 highlights a 162% increase in nest numbers between 1993 and 2019 for seconds and 46% for the first. The count was performed on 28 beaches in northern Cyprus. If these figures may seem satisfactory, researchers remain concerned about the controversy.

Forest-headed turtles continue to be threatened by bycatch

Head turtles, whose reproduction is stable, undoubtedly face higher mortality afterwards. “The recovery of this population is very encouraging, welcomes u Statement Dr. Lucy Omeyer, lead author of this study. However, different recovery rates suggest that quarrels face additional threats than those faced by green turtles.“The latter feed on seagrass, while Loggerheads are omnivores and sometimes swim in areas where fishing vessels are located. Because of this, they suffer more than others due to by-catches.”The successful recovery of green turtle populations is believed to be facilitated by their highly localized coastal areas for feeding and nesting, which are more easily and effectively protected from species species with less predictable habitat use.“, underlines the study.”Forest-headed sea turtles, on the other hand, usually have a complex pattern of movement during and outside the breeding season, which can make them particularly sensitive to human activities.“.

A turtle caught in a fishing net. Credit: Olkan Erguler

A better understanding of sea turtle trails could help improve conservation measures, especially in the Mediterranean where sea turtle mortality rates are among the highest in the world. Moreover, green turtles in the region also remain fragile: their population is only 3,400 adults with very limited feeding and breeding areas. Therefore, efforts to conserve these species are still needed.

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