A study has found that the majority of Cyprus’ female green turtles prefer to forage at Lake Bardawil in Egypt.
Researchers have discovered that Lake Bardawil in Egypt is the preferred foraging spot for female turtles that lay eggs at key rookeries in Cyprus.
Situated at the northern coast of the Sinai Peninsula, Lake Bardawil is a large, shallow lagoon with an artificial opening that connects to the sea. Initially created as a fishery in the 1950s, it became an ideal seagrass habitat for adult green turtles.
In a study conducted by the University of Exeter and the North Cyprus Society for the Protection of Turtles (SPOT), as many as 74 percent of the 19 female turtles that were tracked had foraged there.
In fact, Robin Snape of the Centre for Ecology and Conservation on Exeter's Penryn Campus in Cornwall said that since about 2010, there had been an increase in the number of turtles foraging at Lake Bardawil.
“The overall increase in nest numbers appears to be driven by protection of nesting sites in Cyprus and conditions at Lake Bardawil,” he said. In contrast, there have been fewer adult turtles foraging around Cyprus and Turkey, possibly due to high incidences of bycatch of turtles at the fisheries there.
“It’s possible that the lake will reach its capacity, and at that point the green turtle population could stop increasing,” Dr Snape added.
“Given the importance of Lake Bardawil for green turtles in the Eastern Mediterranean, it’s vital that the habitat there is managed in a way that protects turtles and supports the livelihoods of fishers,” said Annette Broderick, a Professor of Marine Conservation at the University of Exeter.
She added that reducing bycatch and protecting habitats in other locations could increase the green turtle population and reduce the reliance on just one location [Lake Bardawil] as a foraging ground.